Click on any phrase to play the video at that point.Close
Now, since this is TEDGlobal, who can tell me what this is called in French? I see you're all up on the history of hurdy-gurdy -- "vielle à roue." And in Spanish, "zanfona." And in Italian, "ghironda," okay? Hurdy-gurdy, or wheel fiddle.
So, these are the different kinds and shapes of the hurdy-gurdy. The hurdy-gurdy is the only musical instrument that uses a crank to turn a wheel to rub strings, like the bow of a violin, to produce music. It has three different kinds of strings. The first string is the drone string, which plays a continuous sound like the bagpipe. The second string is a melody string, which is played with a wooden keyboard tuned like a piano. And the third string is pretty innovative. It's also the only instrument that uses this kind of technique. It activates what's called the buzzing bridge, or the dog. When I turn the crank and I apply pressure, it makes a sound like a barking dog. So all of this is pretty innovative, if you consider that the hurdy-gurdy appeared about a thousand years ago and it took two people to play it; one to turn the crank, and another person -- yes -- to play the melody by physically pulling up large wooden pegs. Luckily, all of this changed a couple of centuries later. So, one person could actually play and almost -- this is pretty heavy -- carry the hurdy-gurdy.
The hurdy-gurdy has been used, historically, through the centuries in mostly dance music because of the uniqueness of the melody combined with the acoustic boombox here. And today, the hurdy-gurdy is used in all sorts of music -- traditional folk music, dance, contemporary and world music -- in the U.K., in France, in Spain and in Italy. And this kind of hurdy-gurdy takes anywhere from three to five years [to order and receive it]. It's made by specialized luthiers, also in Europe. And it's very difficult to tune.
You can share this video by copying this HTML to your clipboard and pasting into your blog or web page.
need to get the latest Flash player.
Got an idea, question, or debate inspired by this talk? Start a TED Conversation.
Caroline Phillips cranks out tunes on a seldom-heard folk instrument: the hurdy-gurdy, a.k.a. the wheel fiddle. A searching, Basque melody follows her fun lesson on its unique anatomy and 1,000-year history.
Caroline Phillips' rich, soprano voice conjures up the far-and-wide cultures of the world, especially the sound and language of the Basque Country. Full bio »