The hurdy gurdy is an instrument used from the 10th to the 18th century, was a mechanical fiddle activated by a rosined wheel (house within the body) turned by the hand crank. A series of rods were turned to stop the strings simultaneously, producing either unisons of paralel organum depending on the tuning. The earliest depictions (12th century) of the hurdy gurdy show an instrument 1.5-1.8 m (5-6 ft) long and played by two seated men. In the 13th century the invention of a smaller, higher pitched instrument made on player operation possible.
Its more facile key mechanism, pressed upward from iceland to Russia, its social position by the 17th century had descended from the lofty an instrument for blind beggars. In the 18th century it became a fad of the French court and was made in guitar and lute shapes, it has been designed variously as organizzata. Haydn and Mozart, among others, wrote for the instrument.
The hurdy gurdy, a nearly obsolete stringed instrument, its shape like a large, broad necked violin and is played on the lap. When the hurdy-gurdy is played, the strings are vibrated through the friction of a rotating wheel with a handle. A small keyboard is used for stopping the strings.