Hear the incredibly hypnotising sound of the zanfona, a strange medieval musical instrument

7 July 2021, 13:36 | Updated: 9 July 2021, 10:26

Hear the incredibly hypnotising sound of the zanfona, a strange medieval musical instrument
Hear the incredibly hypnotising sound of the zanfona, a strange medieval musical instrument. Picture: YouTube / Andrey Vinogradov

By Sian Moore

A mechanical string instrument from the Middle Ages that can still evoke goosebumps today...

With a few turns on a hurdy-gurdy’s hand crank, a rosined wheel sweeps against the instrument’s few strings.

The resulting noise? A steady and unwavering drone that sounds straight from the Middle Ages (and Game of Thrones, too).

Musician Andrey Vinogradov has mastered the medieval wheel fiddle – an instrument of choice during the Renaissance period – which he uses to play local folk melodies from all corners of the globe.

Listen to his beautiful, haunting rendition of a ‘Dark Medieval Ballad’ below...

Read more: Holy smokes, a hurdy-gurdy cranking heavy metal riffs sounds monumental

So, how does this marvellous stringed instrument actually work?

The crank we see Vinogradov turning back and forth works like a violin bow, by rubbing the strings of the instrument. Meanwhile, the musician simultaneously plays the keyboard that sits on the neck of the instrument with their other hand.

By pressing the keys, small wedges of wood, known as tangents, are pushed against one or two strings to change the pitch.

You might know the instrument by its French name, vielle à roue, or perhaps its other titles, the zanfona, draailier or ghironda.

Whenever we hear a hurdy-gurdy playing, we just want to *ahem*... crank it up.