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The gaida (also spelled gajda) is a bagpipe from South Eastern Europe (the Balkans). It originates from the territory of present-day Bulgaria and was first used by Thracian tribes.[1] Variations of this instrument are found throughout the Balkans in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

Instrument partsEdit


The bag is the reservoir that supplies the pipes with air. It is an airtight sack made out of goat or sheep hide. When this bag is squeezed under the player's arm, air is forced through the reeds of the pipes, creating sound. Different regions have different ways of treating the hide. The simplest methods involve just the use of salt, while more complex treatments involve milk, flour, and the removal of fur. In the Macedonian regions, the hide is normally turned inside out so that the fur is on the inside of the bag, as this helps with moisture buildup within the bag. The stocks into which the chanters and blowpipe and drone fit are called "glavini" (главини) in Bulgarian. These can be made out of Cornel wood (дрян) or animal horn.

Blow pipeEdit

This is a short, conical wooden or bone tube in which the player blows to refill the bag. At the end of the blow pipe that is within the bag, there is a small check valve of leather or felt that allows air into the bag via the blow pipe but not back out.


These are the pipes that play the melody.

Reeds (lemellas, Piska)Edit

Each chanter is fitted with a reed made from reed (arundo donax), bamboo, or elder. The reed is fitted into the end of the chanter that goes into the bag. The reed itself is a round tube plugged at one end with cork, wax or the natural walls of the reed. The other end is open and a tongue is cut that vibrates when air is passed through. The end of the reed is wrapped in string (usually Hemp) to create an airtight seal when inserted into the chanter. The length of the reed that protrudes from the chanter determines the chanter's tuning, and can be adjusted by sliding it in or out. The wrapping is traditionally lubricated with suet, although the same cork grease used for clarinets also works well. If the reeds do not sound properly, the notch cut in the open end of the reed can be tightened by using a rubber band to squeeze the tube.

Melody chanter (gaidunitza, gaidanitsa, Zurle)Edit

This is a smaller tube (chanter) with a conical bore (in Bulgaria), cylindrical bore (in Macedonia and other regions), made from boxwood (shimshir) cornel wood, plum wood or other fruit wood. It has 8 holes in it: the top four are covered by the thumb and first three fingers of the left hand, then the four fingers of the right hand cover the remaining four holes. An important feature of the gaida's chanter (which it shares with a number of other Eastern European bagpipes) is the "flea-hole" (also known as a mumbler or voicer) which is covered by the index finger of the left hand. The flea-hole is smaller than the rest and usually consists of a small tube that is made out of metal or a chicken or duck feather. Uncovering the flea-hole raises any note played by a half step, and it is used in creating the musical ornamentation that gives Balkan music its unique character.

Drone (ruchilo, ison)Edit

This pipe is a long, three-piece tube. It has no fingerholes, unlike the melody chanter, since it only plays one note, a drone. This note is normally lower than those played by the melody chanter, as it is longer and its reed is twice as big.

Cleaning and preserving the gaidaEdit

Template:Unreferenced section It is an old tradition that when you have finished playing the gaida, a small (30ml) glass of homemade liquor (rakia) is poured into the bag. This works as an antiseptic within the skin to stop it from rotting. A typical well-looked-after gaida can last more than 30 years.

Gaida players and makersEdit

File:Macedonian gajda.jpg
File:Bag piper, Elbasan, Albania.jpg

Vasilios Hioureas

Related instrumentsEdit

The gaida has many cousins, some of which can be found here. Some of these related instruments are:

References and notesEdit

Template:Reflistast:Gaita bg:Гайда da:Sækkepibe de:Dudelsack es:Gaita eo:Sakŝalmo fr:Gaida gl:Gaita hr:Gajde it:Gaida he:חמת חלילים lb:Dudelsak mk:Гајда (македонска) nl:Doedelzak ja:バグパイプ pl:Dudy pt:Gaita-de-fole sl:Dude sr:Гајде fi:Säkkipilli sv:Säckpipa tr:Gayda wa:Pupsak

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