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Music Releases (more headlines) 05-22-2006

Mistress Of The Hurdy Gurdy Barb Dwyer

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Email: barb@barbdwyer.com.au
Website: http://www.barbdwyer.com.au
Barb lives on the East Coast of Australia, close to Byron Bay, the eastern most part of the country. Barb is Canadian, but has lived in Australia for the past 11 years. Her love of the Hurdy Gurdy started while working in a weird record store in Vancouver in 1987. She fell in love with the sound of the instrument while listening to a record by “Musikas” (Hungarian band featuring Marta Sebastyen). She was then possessed by recurring dreams about the Hurdy Gurdy for the next 9 years. When she finally received her first instrument (a guitar shaped Boudet) the dreams mysteriously stopped.

Barb lived on a community with 200 other “alternative life-stylers” for 8 years in SE Queensland, where she first taught herself the Hurdy Gurdy. She practiced for 3 years straight, completely obsessed, without too much distraction other than the kangaroos, possums and snakes, which regularly came into her large army tent, where she lived. During this time she developed many of her own techniques and styles for playing the instrument. Her first lessons on the Hurdy Gurdy were with Nigel Eaton, after one year of playing. She then went on to study with Cliff Stapleton, Ricardo Delfino, Pierre Imbert, Valentin Clastrier and Matthias Loibner. These lessons spanned over several years and a lot of travelling to many countries. Barb now plays an alto instrument from Wolfgang Weichselbaumer.

At the time when Barb started playing (1997) there were less than 5 players that she was aware of in Australia. Now, there would be at least 30 players in the country, and she finds more of them all the time. Barb organised a Hurdy Gurdy Conference in Australia last year, which was a great success. There were 8 players present, nearly 1/3 of the Hurdy Gurdy players in the country! Michael Hannan, a famous local composer and Head of School in the Music Dept. of Southern Cross University, was commissioned to write a 4 part Hurdy Gurdy piece for the event. He used ideas of harmonisation from the Georgian tradition, and created a dark and beautiful minimalist work.

Current projects of Barb are many and varied. Her newly released 3rd CD "La Langue Sauvage", which comprises Romanian Gypsy, French Folk, new original classical, experimental, B-grade Horror movie soundtrack material, and originals with such flavours as Rajasthani Gypsy. Her new CD also contains a bonus track of Michael Hannan’s “Magnae Rotae” – the 4 part monster Hurdy Gurdy piece, commissioned by Barb.

Barb is currently working with a 4 piece band, called “Avant Garden". The line up is: Gurdy, Accordion, Vocals, Cello, Double Bass and drums. They will start touring folk festivals of Australia in late 2005/2006. At the moment, Barb is composing music influenced by 7 different cultures that she has travelled to. Some of the songs will be sung in the language of the countries of influence. For example, a piece about Germany will include an electronic soundscape a la “Kraftwerk” with Dada-esc vocals in German. The Hurdy Gurdy will be used in this piece like a synthesizer. A Pentatonic song about China, sung in Chinese. Maybe a circus waltz sung in French?

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