BARRIKADA HAUSTIA (Zuberoako maskarada)

Musicians: Mixel Etxekopar (xirula) and Oihenart (tabala)

Gotein, 1999.

Barrikada haustia. Mixel Etxekopar (xirula) eta Oihenart (tabala). Gotein, 1999.

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0199)

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0200)

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0259)

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0260)

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0262)

Xirula (JMBA bilduma, 0506)

Lexarduart xirula eta ttun-ttuna jotzen. Atarratze, 1920. hamarkadan. (Arg. Txistu. Tratado de flauta vasca. P. Olazaran de Estella. 1970)


The xirula is a fipple flute, and thus an aerophone.

Description of the instrument

The xirula, like the txistu, is a fipple flute with three holes. It has the three holes at the bottom of the tube, two at the front and one at the back. It is shorter than the txistu and gives a higher pitch, three and a half tones higher (it is tuned approximately in C). This sharp tuning provides it with uniqueness and great vitality (many times two harmonics are heard in a note, at the same time) and its sound can be heard above other instruments from far away.

There are also differences in appearance and making with respect to the txistu. Xirula appears to have undergone little change or evolution. It is made with boxwood, all in one piece (except the plug of the mouthpiece). Many times, the upper and lower ends are reinforced with horn, since they are the parts most susceptible to being broken with a bump.

Way of playing

The xirulari plays the flute with one hand and with the other the ttunttun that he carries with his arm. Thus, a single musician can simultaneously give the melody of the music, the drone and the rhythm.

With natural fingering it provides a diatonic scale of almost two octaves.


Its use has been maintained until today in the Northeast of the Basque Country, mainly in the popular dances of Zuberoa. In Zuberoa there is no party or dance without xirula.

Today the differences txistu and xirula are very evident and well defined. Each one has its appearance, sound, and dimensions. But these differences (measure, aspect, tambourine-psaltery), as we see in ancient documents, were probably not so clear in present times.

Usually, the xirula has been played with the danburia (ttun-ttun-salterio), so that the same musician played both. The musician holds this string drum against their body with the same arm with which he plays the flute. Sometimes two flute players have played at the same time, each with their ttun-ttun. Beginning around the 1930s, the danburi was less and less used in Zuberoa, with the most common group being the xirula and the atabal. In recent times, its use in Zuberoa has been recovered again from the end of the 20th century.

As we have seen in the case of the txistu, the xirularis have been part of other popular groups along with other instruments, such as the violin or the diatonic accordion, for example.

These flute and psaltery musicians (such as xirula and danburia) were widespread in the Basque Country until the 19th century, but they experienced a great setback from the end of that same century. If we look at old documents, they appear in almost all of Navarra (in the 16th century to Tudela) and in all of Iparralde, from the coast to Zuberoa.

The work of Jesús Ramos (1990) is very important to know where and in what type of groups they have played. In this work, we see that among the musicians who attended the San Fermín festivities in Pamplona throughout the 18th century, these musicians appear from Iparralde (the majority) and Navarra, but also from Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa.

Starting in the 1970s, the xirula became part of traditional and folk music groups, and we can also see it within groups such as the "fanfarre-txaranga" with brass band instruments, throughout Euskal Herria.



BEDAXAGAR, Jean-Michel. (2018). Aitzina pika. Ozaze: Suazia.

BELTRAN ARGIÑENA, Juan Mari. (1996). Soinutresnak euskal herri musikan. Hernani: Orain.

DONOSTIA, Aita. (1952). Instrumentos Musicales Populares Vascos. Obras Completas del P. Donostia. (Tomo II, 257-309). Bilbo: Ed. La Gran Enciclopedia Vasca.

RAMOS, Jesus. (1990). Materiales para la elaboración de un censo de músicos populares de Euskal Herria, a partir de los instrumentistas llegados a Iruñea en el Siglo XVIII.Cuadernos de Etnología y Etnografía de Navarra (55. zk., 91-138). Iruñea: Institución Principe de Viana.


BEDAXAGAR, Jean Mixel. (1983). Xiberoa. Elkar. ELK-59.

(1995). BEDASAGAR. Fonti Musicali. Traditions du Monde. fmd 208.

BEDAXAGAR, Jean-Michel. (2018). Aitzina pika. Ozaze: Suazia.

BELTRAN ARGIÑENA, Juan Mari. (2017). Soinu-tresnak Euskal Herri Musikan. 1985-2010. Elkar-Soinuenea Fundazioa. KD DVD-E 968.

ETXEKOPAR, Mixel. (1988). Xiberoko dantza jauziak. Uhaitza.

(1992). Xiberoko dantza jauziak - 2. Euskal Dantzarien Biltzarra.


BELTRAN ARGIÑENA, Juan Mari. (2017). Soinu-tresnak Euskal Herri Musikan. 1985-2010. Elkar-Soinuenea Fundazioa. KD DVD-E 968.

LARRUKERT, Fernando. (1968). Ama lur / Tierra madre. Euskadiko Filmategia.

(1978). Euskal herri-musika. Euskadiko Filmategia.

Types of cookies

Analysis or measurement cookies

These are the cookies that allow us to track and analyze user behavior on our website in order to make improvements based on the analysis of usage data made by users of the service.

Cookies for sharing on social networks

We use some social media sharing add-ons, to allow you to share certain pages of our website on social networks. These add-ons set cookies so that you can correctly see how many times a page has been shared.