The Ultimate Piping Challenge: Blowing the Asturian Bagpipe

Posted on April 27, 2011 by

During my recent trip to Asturias, I gave a shot at playing the bagpipes (you know me, I had to give everything a go). I don’t want to blow my own horn, but for a first-timer, I didn’t do too badly though my travel mates who were there might beg to differ! While I did make a fool out of myself, I really enjoyed the experience and found great pleasure amusing everyone including myself.

Prior to this experience, I had never seen a bagpipe in my life. The Asturian bagpipe traces its roots back to the Celtic culture. In certain parts of Northern Spain – namely Asturias, Galicia and Cantabria, some of the ancient Celtic influence has survived despite the long evolution of the local musical traditions.

At the Casa Juan Sidreria (cider house) in Cangas de Onis, we got the chance to watch a young trio play the traditional Asturian musical instruments: the gaita (bagpipe), banderetta (drum) and tambor (tamborine).

young Asturian bagpipe player

At 18 years old, this young gaitero (bagpipe-player) plays the instrument for his pure love of traditional music. With his band, they play in cider bars and at weddings.

Asturian lady playing the tamborine

Here is a video of the trio performing local Asturian music:

Asturian Bagpipe Trio

If you really have to see it, here’s a video of me trying to play the bagpipes. It looked harder than I’d imagined – playing the bagpipes involve a combination of stamina (for blowing) and strength (for squeezing the bag as you blow) – although I did manage to spurt out a note or two at the end of it.  Try not to laugh, will ya?

WildJunket learns to play the Asturian bagpipe

 

The bagpipe is played commonly throughout the region, not only in cider bars but also on the streets. Along the streets of Gijon, I found a performer who was more than happy to strut his stuff for my camera. Here’s a video of him on his gaita:

A street performer playing the bagpipes

To see more of my photos from Asturias, click on any of the images above or go to my online gallery.


This experience was made possible by Asturias Tourism Board and Turismo.as, but all opinions are my own. Read more about my travels in Asturias here.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

10 Responses to “The Ultimate Piping Challenge: Blowing the Asturian Bagpipe”

  1. Angela April 27, 2011 4:04 pm
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    Well done, I think you played really well! :P Very interesting post, I love how culture and traditions carry on from ancient times and still are performed.

    • Nellie April 29, 2011 4:02 am
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      Angela, you're too kind! Yes, that's what I love most about Asturias – they see the importance of preserving their traditions, even young people treasure their culture and traditions.

  2. Erica April 28, 2011 7:19 am
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    Awesome that you gave it a go!

  3. Laurel April 28, 2011 6:03 pm
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    I had no idea that bag pipes were played anywhere else besides Scotland. It looks hard, kudos to you for trying!

  4. Vis_Wanderer April 28, 2011 10:01 pm
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    You did better on those pipes than I would have lol

    • Nellie April 29, 2011 4:00 am
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      Aww you should give it a go!

  5. andres April 29, 2011 5:03 am
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    espero que te haya gustado mi tierra,ojala que muy pronto puedas volver a Asturias

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  8. Didiboydibodibodi October 14, 2013 8:56 am
    #

    Very nice blog, Just to let you know: when you said: "At the Casa Juan Sidreria (cider house) in Cangas de Onis, we got the chance to watch a young trio play the traditional Asturian musical instruments: the gaita (bagpipe), banderetta (drum) and tambor (tamborine)." it is not call banderettta, it is call Pandereta,