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

1 December 2020, 17:31 | Updated: 1 December 2020, 17:32

Michalina Malisz plays the hurdy-gurdy
Michalina Malisz plays the hurdy-gurdy. Picture: YouTube / Michalina Malisz

By Kyle Macdonald

Horns up for the hurdy-gurdy. The quirky Renaissance instrument proves it’s a match for heavy metal band, System of the Down.

What happens when you combine a popular, boxy, Renaissance string instrument, with some epic guitar riffs from today's heaviest metal?

You're about to find out.

Polish hurdy-gurdyist Michalina Malisz is doing great things on YouTube, with the turning cogs of her musical mind discovering new repertoire for the instrument. Michalina says she loves blending the sound of the hurdy-gurdy with her favourite genres: metal, Celtic and cinematic music.

Armed with thundering backing tracks, Michalina cranks the monumental riffs of Metallica, Slipknot and Armenian-American metal band, System of a Down. And all of it sounds epic.

Read more: People are unearthing spicy Renaissance manuscript doodles >

We know you came here for some face-melting hurdy-gurdy heavy metal, so here it is:

5 System of a Down riffs on hurdy gurdy

The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that dates back to Medieval times. Its sound is produced by a hand-cranked, rosined wheel that turns, rubbing against strings. Strings can then be depressed to change the pitch. The hurdy-gurdy also has other strings that act as drones to underpin the moving notes, in a style similar to bagpipes.

It's an instrument with a rich history across millennia and throughout classical and folk genres.

And let's also take a moment to celebrate the glory of these classical-heavy metal comings-together. They are genres that have much in common, as violinist Rachel Barton Pine eloquently explains, and spectacularly demonstrates.