The gaita from Navarra is a double-reed aerophone.
Description of the instrument
The gaita is a conical tube aerophone with a double reed. As for its parts, it has a mouthpiece and tube with holes to give the notes, like the dulzainas. In addition, this other element composed of a chain + plate is also common among Navarrese gaita players. These musicians in many cases put a chain with a plate at one end that joins the tube (at the bottom) with the mouthpiece. Although today it is only aesthetic, we believe that it would be used before for two other reasons:
One, to protect the pita (mouthpiece). We must bear in mind that in the past the joint the neck and the tube was not as solid as it is today, and there was a great risk that the string would come off, fall to the ground and break. With the chain the pita is hung without falling to the ground.
The other reason, the plate that holds the pita-tudel. We believe that there was a time when this sheet would have the same function that such instruments give it today in other parts of the world, that is, of lip support and containment.
Way of playing
In general, the fingering, the emission of wind and other playing techniques are similar to those of the dulzaina.
Because it is needed to play its wide repertoire, by means of "nut" or half hole fingerings, the chromatic scale can be obtained. This is how they play in different keys and in major and minor modes.
It appears forming different types of groups: a gaita-dulzaina and a drum has been the most seen in many places and for many years. At present, the most common group is formed by two gaitas-dulzainas (playing with two voices) and a drum.
As we can see from ancient documents, the gaita-dulzaina has been used for a long time throughout the Basque Country. In these written documents it is not always clear which instrument is behind the "gaita"; if a dulzaina or a bagpipe. Therefore, here we will only use documentation that is clear and offers no possibility of doubt.
In the list of musicians who attended the Pamplona festivals in the 18th century, many dulzainas and gaitas appear (Ramos, 1990).
In Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia, with some exceptions, rural dulzaineros have performed far from academic and official music. In Álava and Navarra they have been mostly musicians with a school, who in many cases have also played some other band or orchestra instrument.
It is in the towns and cities of these areas where the sound of this instrument is heard offering the morning dianas of the festivities, guiding and cheering up the groups of giants and big heads, offering concerts and music for dance in the squares... It should be mentioned that it is used in many dances of ancient rituals or celebrations.
Navarrese gaiteros have been known for years outside their lands. In the urban areas of Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia, for example, despite having local "popular dulzaineros", those from Navarra (often those from Estella) were brought in for the great patron saint festivities.
The repertoire of these musicians is very varied and is linked to the styles of the time, such as the urban txistularis. It is seen that the pipers were quick to make their own the melodies and dances that came from outside and were in fashion. Thus, in addition to native music and rhythms, their repertoire is made up of sonatas, polkas, mazurcas, habaneras, rigodones, pasodobles, schotis, etc.
The highest technical level was reached in the 19th century, according to the scores of the gaitero of Estella Julián Romano (1831-1899). Today there are not many gaiteros-dulzaineros capable of playing these scores well.
Among those gaiteros-dulzaineros there were those who had extensive training in the School of Music and in addition to the gaita they played other instruments. As we have explained in the violin section, from the end of the 19th century to the 1950s, many Navarrese dulzaineros were violinists and when some attended the town festivals, they went in two ways; by day, two dulzaineros with the drum and at night, two violinists accompanied by a guitar, from bar to bar and in other closed places. Thus, among others, the pipers Moreno and Jesús Mondejar, who formed the group of pipers from Pamplona, played the violin, with the drummer Felipe Indurain, who played the guitar (Iruñeko Gaiteroak, 1993, p. 87).
At the beginning of the 20th century, the presence of this instrument and these musicians began to decline, and by the middle of the century there were very few gaiteros; almost no more than in Estella. In the sixties, the brothers Javier and Fernando Lacunza, from a Navarrese family and residents of Bilbao, began the recovery of the gaita. With what they learned and collected over many years about this instrument, they began to teach, promoting new groups and publishing the first study book in 1968. Later, here and there, new groups have been created. Some of them are good, solid and autonomous groups, playing, researching, looking for improvements, teaching ... These groups are the ones that are giving new impetus to the instrument.
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