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Hurdy Gurdy! Hurdy Gurdy! Hurdy Gurdy!
August 19, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

When was the last time you listened to a hurdy gurdy? No, I mean really listened to a hurdy gurdy? No, I don't mean the The Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan. I mean a real hurdy gurdy. That is to say, an actual hurdy gurdy. Oh, and by the way, the French call it a Vielle à roue. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite (53 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some interesting hurdy gurdy players on MySpace Music (where, don't forget, knee-jerk MySpace haterz, you can always hear up to 4 songs by each artist, absolutely free!)...

Philip G. Martin
Grégory Jolivet
Andrey Vinogradov, whose wonderful playing is seen and heard in the first link of this FPP.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:58 AM on August 19, 2007


So that's what it was. I saw a guy playing something like this in a Paris metro and was so impressed I gave him a 2 euro coin (normally I'm cheap and give $0.50-$1 or scaled amount in local currency).
posted by Deathalicious at 8:02 AM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Huh... I'd seen the term before but never bothred to find out what a hurdy gurdy was. Nifty. Thanks, flapjax.
posted by sotonohito at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2007


I was trying to explain to my girlfriend what a hurdy gurdy is just last night. We wake up this morning, and there's this post.

This is why I love metafilter.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2007


Didn't sting play a hurdy gurdy at the Academy Awards a couple years ago?
posted by silby at 8:15 AM on August 19, 2007


Wow, check that second clip starting around 3:40 in. I'm embarrassed to say I never knew what a hurdy gurdy looked like until now. What an amazing little instrument. Thanks, flapjax.
posted by mediareport at 8:21 AM on August 19, 2007


You know who else played the hurdy gurdy?
posted by absalom at 8:22 AM on August 19, 2007


even though that translation actually uses "rote" instead.
posted by absalom at 8:22 AM on August 19, 2007


Absalom - Neville Coghill actually flags up his use of 'hurdy gurdy' in the introduction to his translation, explaining that, although it's not technically accurate, he sometimes had to make changes to fit the rhyme scheme. I believe he rhymed with something like 'for he was strong and he was sturdy' or something.
posted by RokkitNite at 8:35 AM on August 19, 2007


It has been my ambition for a while to own one of these things. Every so often I look at them on Lark in the Morning, but the cost is really prohibitive.

I've seen the Loibner and Kacalanos clips before, they're both great. I love how that can discern how the wrist movement creates that rhythmic pulse.
posted by palimpsest at 8:37 AM on August 19, 2007


Totally riveting, especially link #2 -- thanks, flapjax!
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:37 AM on August 19, 2007


Chris Funk of The Decemberists occasionally plays the hurdy-gurdy.
posted by jaronson at 8:39 AM on August 19, 2007


Hey flapjax ... this is a crazy coincidence seeing this post. Did you know that hurdy-gurdy maker Wolfgang Weichselbaumer was just in Tokyo, together with performer Matthias Loibner? My girlfriend does the simultaneous interpretation for Matthias' concerts whenever he comes to town. I think they'll be back next year too, so if you want to hear this stuff live, I can let you know then ...
posted by woodblock100 at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2007


"Flesh colored" seems to have gotten darker over the years...
posted by Tube at 8:41 AM on August 19, 2007


Wow, woodblock, I had no idea. And that Loibner, he's totally badass, I'd love to hear him live! So, yeah, by all means, give us a shout when he comes back through again!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2007


Want!
posted by strontiumdog at 8:57 AM on August 19, 2007


thanks for the link, flapjax. Wow.

and thanks palimpsest for the Lark link as well.
posted by strontiumdog at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2007


Paging hurdy gurdy girl to this thread.
posted by oaf at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure someone plays the hurdy-gurdy in Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and Arcade Fire.
posted by popcassady at 9:09 AM on August 19, 2007


Didn't sting play a hurdy gurdy at the Academy Awards a couple years ago?

"Play" is being far too generous. He only played the drone strings, which would be the equivalent of coming out with a guitar and only playing one note.
posted by malocchio at 9:12 AM on August 19, 2007


Nice post flapjax at midnite. I think the first song I heard that used a hurdy gurdy was The Mummers' Dance. At least that was the first song that I heard and knew what that sound was.
posted by Sailormom at 9:19 AM on August 19, 2007


from the second link it seems like Loibner is the Yngwie Malsteem of the Hurdy Gurdy...

maybe pop music needs more hurdy gurdy solos.
posted by geos at 9:21 AM on August 19, 2007


There's a hurdy-gurdy at about 00:51 in this clip of the Gaudriole. The 'chien' demonstrated in one of flapjax' posts can be heard on another of the songs (where there's a weird resonance).
posted by jet_silver at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2007


Want?
posted by MtDewd at 10:03 AM on August 19, 2007


I love to hear a tone drone on and on with 11 notes interacting with that tone. There's so much you can do with that.
posted by sluglicker at 10:16 AM on August 19, 2007


Any FPP with a link to Donovan is automatically awesome. Thanks flapjax!
posted by nonmerci at 10:36 AM on August 19, 2007


Alright you bitches, I'm gonna sing some songs of love.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2007


"Wheel Fiddle" - huh. Who knew?
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2007


And there's the Swedish hurdy gurdy band Hurdy Gurdy, and their album Protptyp.

What a cool post. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on August 19, 2007


Dammit. Prototyp.
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on August 19, 2007


well, maybe not a hurdy-gurdy, but an organ was playing in the street just now.
sometimes i feel like i'm living in another century.
(i actually have a cd of the damn things - organillos de chile - that i have to get up and skip whenever it appears on shuffle play. a friend of a friend went and recorded a pile of them for posterity so that little chilean children won't grow up without suffering the same things we have to).
posted by andrew cooke at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2007


Hey, I've seen Melissa Kacalanos play at the Union Square L station. I wanted to ask her what the instrument was called but couldn't get up the nerve.
posted by gubo at 11:56 AM on August 19, 2007


That second link reminds me...

"Our lives would be as shaky as, as... as a hurdy-gurdy man on the roof!"

Cool post, flapjax.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2007


On the avant-art side is Jim O'Rourke's Happy Days, fifty five minutes of fingerpicked guitar interleaving multiple tracks of hurdy gurdy wall-of-noise. Not in the same groove asthe performers named already, but I like it too.
posted by ardgedee at 12:14 PM on August 19, 2007


Gregory Jolivet, who flapjax at midnight mentioned, plays in a great band called Blowzabella.
posted by transient at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2007




Also on the avant-garde side is Keiji Haino's "21st Century Hard-y Guide-y Man," although he may also have done some hurdy gurdy while playing with Fushitsusha. The instrument also shows up (unsurprisingly) in Mittelaltermusik - stuff like Corvus Corax. Some modern folk-rock features the instrument as well, including the Swedish group Garmarna or the Finnish Hedningarna.

If I weren't already busy with electric fiddle, I'd be lusting after a hurdy gurdy myself...
posted by ubersturm at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2007


My ears are burning.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:38 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, I knew I had seen something like this here before...

The old thread is highly recommended for everyone looking for that type of music; German medieval revival bands like Schandmaul or Corvus Corax often use those instruments in their line-up.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:41 PM on August 19, 2007


[nice post!]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2007


Years ago, when I worked for Colonial Williamsburg, I would occasionally play a hurdy gurdy like this one.

They're not that hard to learn. As I recall, you could remove one of the drone strings (this one had 2), so that the drone was a single note, and not a chord, which gave a little more flexibility in the sound.

But, like a bagpipe, people either like the drone or they don't. I always thought it was fun.

Thanks for this great post.
posted by MythMaker at 12:56 PM on August 19, 2007


Man, those are some talented musicians!

The full-band (cello, drums as well as hurdy gurdy) version of "Mount Hekla" is also well worth listening to (the hurdy-gurdy only version is the 7th link in the post).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:09 PM on August 19, 2007


I have been planning to build a hurdy gurdy based on Dennis Havlena's page. (I've had difficulties obtaining all the necessary materials, though.)
Matmos used a hurdy gurdy on their album The Civil War, though I'm not sure about their other albums.
Also, add Wolgemut to the list of medieval revival bands.
posted by Stove at 1:19 PM on August 19, 2007


Sailormom - that Mummer's Dance video is something else. I always kinda liked the song, but the video is too Renn Fayre not to laugh just a little bit. Hilarious comments too: seems to be about half "that guy looks like the Burger King!" (true) and half debates about Wicca. Wow.

In other news, I want a hurdy gurdy really bad now.
posted by naoko at 2:17 PM on August 19, 2007


Well hey alright.
posted by OrangeDrink at 3:14 PM on August 19, 2007


Great post. I thought this was what was played on the soundtrack to "The Last Temptation of Christ", but it turns out it was the Arghul. Crazy.

It seems like a lot of cultures come up with drone intruments. Bagpipes, didgeridoos etc. That's probably worthy of an fpp by someone more knowledgeable than me on the subject.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:09 PM on August 19, 2007


That's probably worthy of an fpp by someone more knowledgeable than me on the subject.

In fact, lumpenprole, as you mention, there are so many drone-based musics around the world, and so many drone instruments, that rather than throwing them all into one FPP, I figured we should perhaps look at each separately. In fact, I was thinking of doing a didgeridoo post, maybe next!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:42 PM on August 19, 2007


Hey, great post flapjax! My wife and I got to see Beck perform "Nobody's Fault" with something very akin to the hurdy gurdy, and it was beautiful.

Didgeridoo? Yes, please!
posted by snsranch at 6:16 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was just playing with the Hurdy Gurdy VST Synthesizer yesterday.
posted by Foosnark at 6:57 AM on August 20, 2007


"The Soundbytes HurdyGurdy is a sample based VST synthesizer for the windows platform."

Awwww, maaaaan! You're killing me here.

I'd love to hear this in action: how 'bout posting something that uses this to MeFi Music, Foosnark?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 AM on August 20, 2007


The first time I saw one live was during that Page-Plant tour with (I think) Moroccan musicians.

And today with this post I had something similar to what happened to buriednexttoyou. I had only heard the Butthole Surfer's version of Hurdy Gurdy Man. Then one friend showed me Donovan's version and then I found this post. Brilliant. Another great one, flapjax.
posted by micayetoca at 9:08 AM on August 20, 2007


The last time I listened to a hurdy gurdy was when I saw Dead Can Dance play at the hollywood bowl. I had no idea what the instrument in the song it was in (can't remember which by name) was until I saw it live.
posted by flaterik at 12:15 PM on August 20, 2007


Great post. At the height of my weird intrument acquisition syndrome, I haunted unnamed online auction sites for hurdy-gurdys. I still kind of regret not getting one, even if in the clear, hard light of the 21st century I realize that was probably the wrong way to go about it.
posted by mwhybark at 7:09 PM on August 22, 2007


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