Sobre la gaita



Gaitas in the Iberian Peninsula

Asturias, Cantabria y and areas of Northern León

The bagpipe of the Asturias region on the northern coast of Spain bordering Galicia on its western frontier. It most commonly consists of a chanter with a bass drone and occasionally a tenor drone which lies across the right forearm

The gaita asturiana is of longer size than the Galician gaita of the same key; that is to say, its pipes are of longer dimensions. The reed of the chanter (payuela) is of smaller size than the gallega reed. Compared to the gallega, the finger holes are distributed differently, making it easier to extend to the 4th of the second octave with a simple increase in air pressure on the bag (fuelle), a method known as requintar.

In the neighboring province of Cantabria the gaita asturiana is also called astur-cántabra or cántabra, though in construction it is identical.

Traditionally the gaita asturiana had only the two tubes: the chanter and the drone, the same as the gaita gallega. The traditional tuning of the chanter was in C4 (an octave above the piano's Middle C). Traditionally the C of the gaita was between concert C and C#, known as C brillante ("C brilliant"), though examples are also found in D (rare) and B (more frequent, used to accompany male "tonada" singers). Some times it was also possible to see tiny chanters tuned above D. The drone is tuned to the tonic of the chanter, but two octaves lower. However, in the modern day some makers add a tenor drone (ronquín) tuned one octave below the chanter, the same as the ronqueta of the gaita gallega.

Currently, the gaita asturiana is constructed in a wider array of keys and types, anywhere from A to as high as E. Also, refinement of the chanter construction has made it possible to play as high as the tonic in the third octave. Further, the ability to hit chromatic notes has increased, turning the chanter from a completely diatonic instrument to a nearly fully chromatic one. The addition of auxiliary holes has also increased. As a further sign of modernisation, keys have been added to some variants to extend range and chromatic ability.

Gaita astur-cántabra Gaita astur-cántabra