Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Leioa [Biscay], Spain.
Region: Western Europe & Iberian Peninsula.
Description: The txistu [Basque pronunciation in IPA: ˈtʃis̺tu] it is a duct flute that became a symbol for the Basque folk revival.
Etymology: The name may stem from the general Basque word ziztu “to whistle” with palatalization of the z [cf zalaparta > txalaparta]. This three-hole pipe can be played with one hand, leaving the other one free to play a percussion instrument.
History: Evidence of the txistu first mentioned as such goes back to 1864. Although it was used earlier it was not easy to establish when it first began. The txistu being the result of an evolution of the upright flutes widespread as early as the Late Middle Ages, when minstrels scattered all over the Iberian Peninsula brought in instruments that locals, noblemen first and common people later took on and developed.
At the beginning, txistu players [txistularis] were named in romance written records after the tabor [pipe and tabor were played together]: tamborer, tamborino, tambolín, tamborín, tamboril, músico tamboril, tamborilero, tamboriltero. However, when named after the flute, they are called in Spanish pífano, silbato, silbo, silbo vizcaíno or chilibistero.
The three-hole flute was played by people in much of Spain and Western Europe. Recordings of the Basque names came later; txilibitu, txirula, txirola, txürula, txulula, txilibitulari, txilibistari. Whilst some instrument fell into decay, from the Renaissance on the three-hole flute raised in its profile increasingly took on the length as we not it today [42 cm] in Basque Country.
In contrast, the [t]xirula, the version that prevailed on the eastern Basque Country Soule, Labourd and Navarre remained shorter in size. At that point, three-hole flutes were made of wood despite some instances of flutes made in bone.
The oldest txistu melodies were in Mixolydian mode in G. It is the same as the seventh mode in Gregorian chanting. More recently composed songs are still in G major, but in either F natural or F# sharp or more rarely in C. There are exceptions, however, in major F melodies with natural B.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: The Txistu and the Txistularis article in Spanish from Wayback Machine [site] ;