vielle

vielle

vielle, bowed string instrument used throughout Europe from the 13th cent. through the 15th cent. The vielle resembles the violin, of which it is a direct precursor, but it has a longer body and five strings, one of which was used as a drone. In the 15th cent. the word vielle referred to the hurdy-gurdy (vielle à rue).

Hurdy-gurdy played by a French lady of fashion, 18th century

Pear-shaped fiddle, the strings of which are sounded by the rim of a rosined wooden wheel turned by a handle. A row of keys is used to produce the melody by stopping one or two strings; the remaining strings sound a constant drone. A hurdy-gurdy-like instrument existed in Europe by the 12th century; it took its present shape in the 13th century. It has long been associated with street musicians, and it is still played as a folk instrument in Europe. The name is also often used for the barrel organ, in which a hand crank rotates a barrel inside the case, on which several tunes are encoded, causing a small pipe organ to play.

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The vielle is a European bowed stringed instrument used in the Medieval period, similar to a modern violin but with a somewhat longer and deeper body, five (rather than four) gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs. The instrument was also known as a fidel or a viuola, although the French name for the instrument, vielle, is generally used. It was one of the most popular instruments of the Medieval period, and was used by troubadours and jongleurs from the 13th through the 15th centuries.

Several modern groups of musicians have formed into bands to play early music (pre-Baroque), and they sometimes include vielles, or modern reproductions, in their ensembles, together with other instruments such as rebecs and saz.

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