File:Al son de la gaita.jpg

The gaita asturiana is a type of bagpipe native to the province of Asturias on the northern coast of Spain.

Differences from other Iberian gaitasEdit

  • The gaita asturiana is of larger size than the gaita gallega of the same key; that is to say, its pipes are of larger dimensions. The reed of the chanter (payuela) is of larger size than the gallega reed. Compared to the gallega, the finger holes are distributed differently, making it easier to extend to the 3rd of the second octave with a simple increase in air pressure on the bag (fuelle), a method known as requintar.
  • In the neighboring province of Cantabria the gaita asturiana is also called Astur-Cántabra or Cántabra, though in construction it is identical. Although the repertory and techniques of the two communities are distinct, they have many melodies in common.[1]


The first evidence for the existence of the gaita asturiana dates back to the 13th century, as a piper can be seen carved into the capital of the church of Santa María de Villaviciosa. Further evidence includes an illumination of a rabbit playing the gaita in the 14th century text Llibru la regla colorada. An early carving of a wild boar playing the pipes may be seen at the Cathedral of Oviedo.

History and evolutionEdit

File:Asturian pipe.jpg

Traditionally the gaita asturiana had only the two tubes: the chanter and the drone, the same as the gaita gallega. The traditional tuning of the chanter was in C4 (an octave above the piano's Middle C). Traditionally the C of the gaita was between concert C and C#, known as C brillante ("C brilliant"), though examples are also found in D and Bb, used to accompany singers. It was also not uncommon to see tiny chanters tuned above D. The drone is tuned to the tonic of the chanter, but two octaves lower. However, in the modern day some makers add a tenor drone (ronquín) tuned one octave below the chanter, the same as the ronqueta of the gaita gallega.

The gaita asturiana todayEdit

Currently, the gaita asturiana is constructed in a wider array of keys and types, anywhere from BTemplate:Music to as high as ETemplate:Music. Also, refinement of the chanter construction has made it possible to play as high as the tonic in the third octave. Further, the ability to hit chromatic notes has increased, turning the chanter from a completely diatonic instrument to a nearly fully chromatic one. The addition of auxiliary holes has also increased. As a further sign of modernisation, keys have been added to some variants to extend range and chromatic ability.

Famous gaiteros asturianosEdit

In the history of the gaita, there have been numerous notable players. It is necessary to begin with the legendary Gaiteru Llibardón, author of the first registered recording of the gaita. Throughout the 20th century there have been other famous gaiteros, such as José Remis Vega (capilla) and his son, a reference for today's gaita interpretations: José Remis Ovalle.


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