Gaita Asturiana

Name: Gaita Asturiana.
Type: Bagpipe > Aerophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Country: Asturias, Spain.
Region: Iberian Peninsula & Western Europe.

Description: The gaita asturiana is a type of bagpipe native to the autonomous communities of Principality of Asturias and Cantabria on the northern coast of Spain.

History: 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.

Varieties & Differences: The gaita asturiana is of larger size than the Galician gaita of the same key; that is to say, its pipes are of longer dimensions. The reed of the chanter [payuela] is of smaller size than the gallega reed. Compared to the gallega, the finger holes are distributed differently, making it easier to extend to the 4th of the second octave with a simple increase in air pressure on the bag [fuelle], a method known as requintar. In the autonomous community of Cantabria this gaita is also called gaita astur-cántabra or gaita cántabra, though it is identical in construction.

Usage & Development: Currently, the gaita asturiana is constructed in a wider array of keys and types, anywhere from A to as high as Eb [E flat]. 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 modernization, keys have been added to some variants to extend range and chromatic ability.

Citations: