Sweet Nyckelharpa + Arch Guitar = Bardou.
April 9, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Bardou (note: sound on intro) is a Belgian band founded by Jim Kline and Mariusz Radwanski combining medieval, baroque, folk, celtic and sea chanty in a beautiful sound. While strolling down the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence this afternoon, I chanced upon these two musicians playing dulcet tones in a duet. As I drew closer, I saw the instruments were nothing I'd encountered before: a nyckelharpa and an arch guitar. The sound was quite appealing (.mpg video).
posted by darkstar (10 comments total)
More about arch guitar innovator Peter Blanchette and the history of the arch guitar here.
posted by darkstar at 2:08 PM on April 9, 2006

NB: Just to clarify, Kline was playing the "arch-harp guitar", with the harp add-on.
posted by darkstar at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2006

Poor lycos site in the last link is dead.
posted by luftmensch at 2:15 PM on April 9, 2006

This looks cool Darkstar, will give it a checkout when I get home from work.

On a side note - are you visiting Aix? A favourite town of mine. What I would not give to be there right now than at my reference desk helping high school kids try to 'understand' Hamlet.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 2:16 PM on April 9, 2006

If you're into weird stringed instruments you should check out the hurdy-gurdy or Drehleier; although the principle seems similar to a nyckelharpa in that the strings are shortened by pressing keys the sound is quite different. This instrument is featured prominently in Loreena McKennitt's The Mummer's Dance and can be heard clearly at the very beginning of that piece. Just thought I'd mention it since it's an authentic medieval instrument, and that might interest people who are into that kind of sound...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:24 PM on April 9, 2006

Strange, luftmensch, that link works for me.

Razzle, I live in Aix - just over four years now - though my permanent home (which I visit once a year in the Spring) is in Arizona. I agree, it's a great place. :)

Cool, Pontifex, before I saw the guys, when I heard their music, The Mummer's Dance was the first thing that went through my mind!
posted by darkstar at 3:41 PM on April 9, 2006

Speaking of hurdy-gurdies and authentic medieval sounds, groups like Corvus Corax, Cornix Maledictum, Schelmish, Varius Coloribus, and Wolfenmond play primarily medieval secular music ["Mittelaltermusik"], often constructing their own instruments. Songs are often from original medieval sources - favorites include Palästinalied and selections from the Codex Buranus. These often include hurdy-gurdies, shawms, citterns, bombardes, cornettos, the trummscheit/tromba marina, many sorts of drums, bagpipes, flutes, viols, and so on. I'm not sure whether nyckelharpa and archguitar are used by many of them, but it's quite possible that they are. Some bands, like In Extremo and Saltatio Mortis also play music that's a mixture of Mittelaltermusik and hard rock or metal. For some reason, this scene is primarily a German one - the Mediaeval Baebes do choral stuff, there are a few orchestral ensembles that dabble in medieval music, and there are, of course, ren-faire bands, but there's really nothing quite as popular and accessible as the German stuff.
posted by ubersturm at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2006 [3 favorites]

Two fascinating intstruments used to create the most mundane sound imaginable. I have rarely come across an instrument that looks as interesting and complicated as a nyckelharpa, but there is nothing to show for it in any of these songs.
posted by fire&wings at 4:51 PM on April 9, 2006

Rule number one ... take off shoes in the house!

Pretentious, white Hippies. Nothing worse.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:38 AM on April 10, 2006

fire&wings--are you saying that these particular bands are making boring music, or that the insturment itself, for all its complexity, is incapable of doing anything interesting? I'm just curious--I'd never seen or heard of these before, and am fascinated by the concept. Fascinated, I tell you. But it it turns out that a regular four-string fiddle is just as good, I'll be less impressed.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2006

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