On a list of things I most anticipated sitting down to cover on Colossal today, the hurdy gurdy probably wasn’t in the top thousand topics, but then I stumbled onto this video and had to share it. The piece is called Omen, written and performed by Guilhem Desq, who uses an electrified version of the hurdy gurdy along with sampling to create a surprisingly contemporary composition. The first two minutes are more traditional (?) sounding, but around the 2:00 mark things get amazing. If you’re unfamiliar with this obscure instrument, here’s a little background:
The hurdy gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges, typically made of wood—against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic stringed instruments, it has a sound board to make the vibration of the strings audible.
If you just can’t get enough hurdy gurdy, you can listen to more of Desq’s music on his YouTube channel, and there’s also a great TED talk by Caroline Philips, Hurdy Gurdy for Beginners. (via Colossal Submissions)