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What Did Sting Play at the Oscar Awards?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Boplicity, Mar 1, 2004.


  1. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Last night at the Oscar awards show Sting accompanied the bluegrass singer Allison Krauss for the nominated song from "Cold Mountain", "You Are My Ain' True Love."

    During the song Sting played a stringed instrument I have never seen before. It looked like a fat-bellied mandolin, but he played it by winding the base of the instrument with his right hand. He didn't appear to fret the instrument at all.

    I found the unusual instrument as interesting as Allison Krauss's two million dollar diamond studded stilletto heeled shoes...maybe even more so. Anybody familiar with bluegrass music who can tell me what that windable instrument is?
     
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I was wondering that too! I totally missed the performance talking about it with my friends(and making jokes about how the motions were not unlike rubbing your stomach and patting your head :) )

    Either it was making long whirring noises, or it was buried in the mix, because I had a hard time figuring out exactly what it was supposed to be doing. I think I heard it a couple times, but over the laughter from various jokes it was hard to hear it.

    I was thinking it might be something like an organ/accordion in that by winding the crank he was oscillating air which...maybe vibrated strings(instead of blowing air through pipes)?

    There were what? 4 strings running lengthwise of the instrument? his left hand position changed a few times, I'd assume it was the 'fretting' or rather what you could call fretting, there did seem to be some holes or pusheries where the headstock would be.
     
  3. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    it's called a vielle a roue. I only know the french name.
    And as long as I know they only been made here in Quebec.
    A few years ago (might still be the same) only one guy in the world was still making them. He was located about 20 miles south of Montreal.

    Here's a link, in french...

    http://www.lessingessavants.com/reta/pages/inst_vielle_2.php
     
  4. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Many thanks, Yvon, for the quick reply to my question. I'm like Wrong Robot, I couldn't quite hear the sound the instrument was making. I wasn't sure if it was blending in with the other instruments or what was going on.

    How intersting that it is made only in Canada and maybe before long won't be made at all. It is sad to think many ownerful instruments may have already become extinct, just like so many animals and plants have.
     
  6. SciFiGuy

    SciFiGuy

    Dec 27, 2003
    Madison, IN
    I sent an email to my bother, who is an ethnomusicologist. He may know the english name. I think I've seen one before. From what Sting's looked like, the crank turned a wheel that was like a continuous bow on the strings, so they were in effect a violin drone. I'm assuming the left hand turned a knob that varied the tension on all 4 strings together so the pitch changed but stayed in tuned with each other.
     
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Wow, thanks Yvon, That is an even stranger looking thing than I thought :)

    very interesting...just gotta brush up on my (non existent) french :p
     
  8. SciFiGuy

    SciFiGuy

    Dec 27, 2003
    Madison, IN
    What I want to know, is what guitar was Elvis Costello playing? It had a pretty cool shape for an acoustic.
     
  9. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Isn't that called a "Hurdy gurdy" in English?

    brad cook
     
  10. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Look at the big brains on Brad! That's right, the metric system!

    (yes, it's a hurdy gurdy)

    Sting played the hell out of thing, did he not? Man, Sting is awesome.
     
  11. Bard2dbone

    Bard2dbone

    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Elvis was playig a REALLY old Gibson acoustic. I don't remember the model name right now. But a few years ago someone called Pawar Guitars re-used the shape for a solid body guitar. Actually pretty cool guitars based on the whole ONE of them I have ever seen in person.

    Okay I did a search and it looks like it was probably a 1920's or so Gibson Style 'O' If you do a search for that it should give you something that looks familiar.

    And Sci Fi Guy is pretty close on how the hurdy gurdy works. It has a wheel inside that rrubs the strings to sound them, sort of a continuous bow. That's what the crank on the end does. As for changing pitch, if you look at the pic you'll see a bunch of key/button thingies? Those are connected to pads that push down on the strings, fretting/leaving open some notes and dampening others. Think of it as a crank-driven autoharp and it may make more sense.
     
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    ha, well according to a google translate it's called "hurdy-gurdy and wheel" ;)
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    That's right - as in the song "Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan that was covered by Steve Hillage on his album "L".

    The Hurdy Gurdy is quite common in English Folk music and is well known over here!
     
  14. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Also, as covered by the Butthole Surfers on their album "Pioughd."

    brad cook
     
  15. SciFiGuy

    SciFiGuy

    Dec 27, 2003
    Madison, IN
    But my brother agrees...

    "The instrument is most commonly known as a "hurdy gurdy." It was most popular in the middle ages and renaissance in Europe. Typically, you don't TURN a knob to vary the pitch but you press down keys which stop the strings at the defined points to get a certain pitch (like you would with your fingers on a violin)."

    I get the keys in the one pictured above, but I think Sting's was open on top, because I could see a lot of string. And I don't remember any keys. So I still think he was turning the knob to adjust pitch. Which would give him a more eerie sliding sound than using keys. Like an 18th century Theremin.