hurdy-gurdy, musical instrument with three strings, caused to vibrate by a wooden wheel turned by a crank. Stopping was accomplished by keys that usually affected only one string that played the melody, the others acting as drones. Usually two players were required. First described in the 10th cent., it was widely used in the Middle Ages, and survived in the works of Vivaldi, Haydn, and Mozart.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.