A Look To The Galician Music For Bagpipes 


The instruments 

The gaita galega is a bagpipe composed by a chanter, a bag and one, two or even three drums, according to their types.

The gaitas are usually tuned in C, B flat and D. There are other keys as B, A (for choruses) and, more recentely, in G, E and F.

The wood used for the gaita is mainly buxus, but granadillo, ebano and other hard woods are also used.

RAPARIGOS also play a wooden flute tuned in G, used in many parts of Galicia during the former two centuries.

The percusion  consist in wooden drums, a small and a big one, both with leather skin. Other instruments are also played in certain tunes, as pandeiro -square drum played with hands, pandeira, small drum with just one skin and metal rings, cunchas -seashells- and tarañolas, a kind of wooden made bones.


Galician traditional tunes

In Galicia, NW of Spain, there are a wide variety of tunes. Basically we find work songs, dance tunes and, specially during the two last centuries, author's music inspired on traditional tunes with a mor academic tratment.

As typical music for bagpipes, we have dances as muiñeiras (mill's tunes), 6/8 melodies with a lot of local variations. The xotas are 3/4 dances with variants as the fandango and the foliada, these last used also with corals. As an example of author's themes, the alboradas are a kind of song to the sunrise.

The traditional groups

Galicia is a coastal country situated in the NW of Spain, fairly isolated by mountains from the rest of Iberia, circumstances who favoured the preservation of its own language -a romanic one, the galego- and culture.

Even though with a clear romanesque influence, the strong galician traditions and music show a close relationship with other cultures as thel celtic one and the influence for centuries came from Europe's center through the Saint James Way.

In the galician traditional music quartets and quintets are the most tipical groups from the last XIX. These are composed of two or three pipes, a drum and a big drum, with a fairly good balance between melodie and percusion volumes.


Nowadays these groups are still an important part of the popular celebrations, so gaiteiros ask people from the early morning to join together. Actually both old and young people love to dance and sing with the pipe music.

The gaiteiros -broad meaning name that includes both gaita and percusion players- were the keepers of a trasure along centuries: the galician music.