Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Wonder: Doing the Hurdy-Gurdy

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



Laura said...

Fascinating, Maureen. I did not know the hurdy gurdy was a stringed instrument. I think Led Zeppelin used one of these in some songs, that's the extent of my familiarity.

Passion is so contagious. I love how you introduce me to passionate folks.

Louise Gallagher said...

It also has a sound of the bagpipes in it -- which is fascinating!

and her voice is fabulous.

Thank you once again for opening the doors to more wonder!

Joyce Wycoff said...

"hurdy gurdy" ... one of those things I thought I knew until Maureen came along and opened my eyes. I'll go forth into the world today with one light shined into one obscure of my inner landscape. What a beautiful voice she has ... thanks!