It's not every day you'll get the chance to hear a musician play a hurdy-gurdy (in French, vielle a roue, meaning "wheel fiddle"), a heavy instrument with a handle or crank, sometimes likened to a barrel organ but, technically, a bowed string instrument. The hurdy-gurdy, which produces its own unique sounds, particularly in combination with the human voice, figures in the folk music of Spain, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.
In this brief video, viellist Caroline Phillips, who performs Basque music with Mixel Ducau — together, they make up Bidaia — provides a bit of history about the instrument and then demonstrates both her own and the instrument's wondrous sounds.
To hear tracks from Bidaia's album Duo, go here.
Bidaia YouTube Channel
Hurdy-gurdy FAQs and References
Over the Water Hurdy-Gurdy Association, Seattle
Peter Pringle Performs Beowulf to the Accompaniment of the Hurdy-Gurdy