Documenting the curious world of the hurdy-gurdy.

Abel Garcia - flamenco hurdy-gurdy player

Christa Muths sent me this review of Spanish hurdy-gurdy player, Abel Garcia - probably the first hurdy-gurdy player to use it for playing flamenco!

The instrument and the music: the hurdy and flamenco have much in common, says Abel, who is the first hurdy gurdy player to play flamenco. Both, he says, the instrument and the music are of unknown origin and they share another characteristic: nomadism.  Just like flamenco, the hurdy is linked to gypsy music and its “migrating personality” is fused with pagan, religion, folk and traditional music of many countries. 

Abel’s ethnographic studies led him to investigate gypsy music which started in India and he followed its footprints across the Middle East, eastern and central Europe to the Iberian Peninsula and northern Maghreb. He studied the baglama in Istanbul under Devrim Aydin and Ergan Ogum and Efren Lopez in Spain and continued his musical range by studying Ottoman, Mevlevi, Turkish and also Greek music under Hristos Barbas and Stelios Petrakis.

Abel’s band Krama fuses Flamenco with sounds from Greece, Bulgaria and India.  Spyros Kaniaris is the composer of some of the music the band plays and he plays different instruments such as the Flamenco guitar, pontros lira and the Camance.  Playing the melody of these songs based on the fusion of Flamenco, Balcanic and Greek sounds forces the hurdy-gurdy player to find new ways to understand and play his instrument.

Abel Garcia also plays the hurdy in the “Compañia de Baile Flamenco Manuel Serena”, where the instrument mingles with the “cante” (vocals), the “toque” (guitar), the cajón flamenco and the dance developed by the company’s director, Manuel Serena.

Abel plays in other bands like ALM, a project with hurdy-gurdies, dolçainas and other string instruments like the lauto, the tar, the santur and the baglama.

Abel is a member of the group Afluencies which was rewarded with the Mediterranean Music Price at the Manresa Festival, and the Ovidi Montlor Price for the best folk album 2010.

Abel music ability covers a very wide range of styles, he collaborates with other Early Music projects like Ensemble Pelegrí (Early music of the three cultures), Longa Organa (oriental medieval music with electronic sound) and Short tale (rock band.)

Abel is also the musical producer of the soundtrack of some theatrical productions.  In 2010 he produced the music for the play Miss Julie, by August Strindberg. The hurdy-gurdy is the starting point of the musical composition.  Every single sound, melody, atmosphere and special effects come from the wheel and the keys of the hurdy-gurdy, thanks to the sound effects and the creative possibilities of the Loop Station.

Christa Muths 2010