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The traditional music of Galicia

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One of the biggest cultural differences between Galicia and any other place in Spain is in its musical tradition.

It has long been thought that Galician music owes its roots to the ancient Celtic history of the region which has survived the subsequent centuries of Roman and Germanic influence. The sound of the bagpipes here is pretty similar to those of Irish and Scottish pipers, but with a slightly higher pitched, more up-tempo pace.

Galician music is about as distant as it is possible to be from the flamenco music more usually associated with Spain. In fact, other Spaniards can be quite rude about Galician bagpipes - gaita can be heard being used as a byword for something that is annoying or disagreeable.

However, it is a source of great pride for most Galicians. Traditional music is extensively played throughout the region during festivals and celebrations, featuring Celtic bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and other popular instruments dating back to the middle ages. At fiesta time the band is will be supplemented by dancers and fireworks to create quite an atmosphere.

Usually a Galician Folk bands comprises two pipers (gaiteiros), two drummers, one tenor and a bass. The gaiteiro in a band must achieve a pose that is consistent with the other band members, inspired by the disciplined image of a military unit. Therefore, any individual movements are considered inappropriate. All movements should be well coordinated to produce a harmonious unity - an early version of a well drilled boy-band.

During festivals bands also perform parades known as 'andala alborada' (to walk the dawn) generally early in the morning, which requires a special technique as well.

If you want to see and hear these instruments, then a festival or public performance is the best option. This year the Ortigueira Festival, one of the world's reference points for folk music and probably the most best attended (about 100,000 people), takes place in Galicia between July 16th and 19th.

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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