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).
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.
Here is a video of the trio performing local Asturian music:
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?
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:
To see more of my photos from Asturias, click on any of the images above or go to my online gallery.