Gaita Asturia


Gaita Gallega


Gaita keyed chanter

Bagpipes of Portugal and Spain


The name "Gaita" can mean any of a variety of instruments from both Spain and Portugal and so requires qualifying with the specific type for it to indicate that it is in fact a Bagpipe. All have a loud, clear bright tone - good for both solo playing and with other instruments and are also considered one of the easiest bagpipes to keep in good playing order. To make learning easier a Practice Chanter is available similar to that used with the Gt. Highland Bagpipe however this has a conical bore and can be overblown. Originally the bag was of sheep or goat skin and nowadays sometimes of rubber especially in the Galician and Asturian instruments, often that of an lorry inner tube. This is fine for hot climates but in damper more northerly areas their is no escape for the moisture associated with a mouth blown pipe other than through the reeds which is not a good practice and a leather or Goretex bag is fitted to my instruments which overcomes this problem.

Gaita Asturias

The bagpipe of the Asturias region on the northern coast of Spain bordering Galicia on it's 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 pitch of the six finger keynote is usually b flat, b or c.

The turning is generally plainer than that of the Galician Gaita giving a more rugged look. The small reed gives a strong even tone helped by the tones holes that progressively increase in size with the expansion of the bore of the chanter. The chanter can be crossed fingered to give a reasonable chromatic scale.

Gaita Gallega

The bagpipe of Galicia, the region situated in the north west corner of Spain having it's southern border with Portugal and the eastern with Asturias. Like the Gaita Asturiana the Gaita Gallega most commonly consists of a chanter with bass drone however it is also quite usual for up to two further drones to be present, a tenor drone sounding one octave below the six finger keynote and a treble drone either in unison with the six finger note or more traditionally sounding in unison with the chanter's fifth. The tenor has a switch and the treble a plug to silence them when not required. It is available in a variety of pitches from high f down to low C (Grande Gaita !) with the most common being between g and d. Each pitch has it's own name, examples for the more common sizes are :- f - Gaita Augua, d - Gaita Grileira, c - Gaita Redonda, b flat & a - Gaita Tumbal and g - Gaita Baritona.

The rather misleading term "brilliante" when added to the name signifies that the instrument plays slightly sharp of concert pitch and does not indicate that the tone is any different to normal. The compass of the chanter is around an octave and a half and whilst I have seen a Gaita Gallega chanter with some keywork (see photograph) it is not normal practice.

Should keywork be felt to be essential to the instrument's intended use then I am quite happy to build one. An alternative would be the Xeremia (French Catalogne) which comes with a fully keyed chanter and has a similar sound.


Materials:

Box, Olive, Exotic or Fruitwood with mounts of bone or horn. A further option is inlaid pewter.