Type: Aerophones > Reeds > Bagpipes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Country: Many, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece.
Region: Balkans & South Eastern Europe.
Description: A gaida [in Albanian; Gajdë in Greek: γκάιντα pronounced ‘nkainta ; in Serbian гајде gajde ; in North Macedonian гайда ; in Bulgarian гайда gaida ] is a bagpipe from the Balkans and Southeast Europe. Southeastern European bagpipes. The name of this instrument is widely dispersed through out the balkans and south Eastern Europe . The Gaida is also found in Neighbouring Greece [in Greek: γκάιντα], Albania, Serbia and Croatia. In Aromanian it’s spelt as gaidã. It is also called Gadjdy in Slovak.
Construction: Gaida bags are generally of sheep or goat hide. 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. 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 or animal horn. The main blowpipe is a short conical wooden or bone tube in which the player fills the bag with air. At the end of the blowpipe that is with in the bag. There is a small return valve of leather or felt which allows the air into the bag via the blow pipe but not back out.
The Reed: Each chanter is fitted with a reed made from reed [arundo donax] bamboo or elder. In regional languages these are variously termed lamellas, Piska, or pisak. A more modern variant for the reed is a combination of a phenolic cotton [HGW2082] material from which the body of the reed is made and a clarinet reed cut to size in order to fit the body. These type of reeds produce a louder sound and are not so sensitive to humidity and temperature changes.
The chanters: The chanter [gaidunitza, gaidanitsa, gajdenica, gajdica, zurle] is the pipe on which the melody is played. Different gaida may have a conical bore [Bulgaria] or cylindrical bore [Macedonia and other regions]. Popular woods include boxwood [boxus. L or shimshir] cornel wood [Cornus mas L.], plum wood [Prunus L.] or other fruit wood. A distinctive 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, marmorka 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.
Some types of gaida can have a double bored chanter, such as the Serbian three-voiced gajde. It has eight finger-holes: the top four are covered by the thumb and the first three fingers of the left hand, then the four fingers of the right hand cover the remaining four holes.
Citations: Bibliography: Dzimrevski, Borivoje 1996 Gajdata vo Makedonija: Instrument-instrumentalist-muzika, Institut za folklor Marko Cepenkov. ISBN 978-9989642098 ; Timothy Rice 1994 May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music, University of Chicago Press ISBN 978-0226711225 ; Atanasov, Vergilij 2002 The Bulgarian Gaida / Bagpipes, Massachusetts: Gaida Studies ISBN 0-9724898-0-0 ; Širola, Božidar 1937 Sviraljke s udarnim jezičkom. Zagreb: JAZU ; Robert, Leibman, Traditional Songs and Dances from the Soko Banja Area. LP: Selo Records. Mark Levy 1985 The Bagpipe in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, University of California ; Rastko Jakovljević 2012 Marginality and Cultural Identities: Locating the Bagpipe Music of Serbia. PhD Thesis, Durham University – The presence of the gaida in Greece ; Websites: