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The Celtic Music of Spain -- Galicia & Asturias

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(flag of Galicia) (flag of Asturias)

Updated: July 23, 2001

Although most folks think of Celtic music, in their mind they hear Irish or Scottish music. However, 'Celtic' music also is found in Galicia and Asturias in Spain, two regions in the northwest corner of Spain. These musical traditions are smaller, but increasingly vibrant and growing. These music traditions have different songs and different dances and rhythms. But there are connections as you will clearly hear. My knowledge of these traditions is poor indeed, and anyone who wants to help with this section of the website would be most appreciated!

Both regions are occupied by people of Celtic origin (not immigrants from Ireland or Scotland). The people speak their own language (closer to Portuguese than Spanish). The music has more in common with Brittany, Wales and Ireland than Spanish music from Castille or Andalusia. They have their own bagpipes, called the Gaita.

Galicia

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Milladoiro - As Fadas de Estraño Nome - "Celtic Music from Spain" (Green Linnet, 1997). This CD is magical, charming, haunting, exotic and refreshing. This is a live recording of a concert in Argentina. Strange Galician instruments abound: the gaita , harps, tamboril, darbouka, caiza, teclados. This ensemble of instruments creates a very different and highly varied sound with influences of Moorish, flamenco, and Irish flavors appearing. (Very highly recommended).

Milladoiro has a new album out - Auga de Maio (Green Linnet, 2000) This is a studio album. Milladoiro, is a seven piece group here with the same superb playing and arrangements. There are also a couple of excellent songs sung in Galician. The songs and tunes on this CD are an emotional roller-coaster ride from from sparkling tunes to moody songs. You will listen to this CD a lot! (Highly recommended)

Santiago album cover

The Chieftains - Santiago (RCA Victor, 1997) This album is a fairly wild musical journey from northern Spain following Galician emigrants to the New World and back to musical links with Ireland. A wonderful introduction to the Txalaparta, trikitixa, rabel, and the gaita, unique instruments of this part of the world. A nice introduction to this very different celtic music, but still with a strong Irish spin.

(Brotherhood of Stars) Carlos Núñez - Brotherhood of Stars (BMG 1997) Núñez may be the best known Galician musician because of his touring with The Chieftains. He has made several Bay Area appearances. A master of the gaita, the Galician bagpipes, Núñez also knows how to put together a great group of musicians to put on a fine show. Joined on some tracks by The Chieftains, Ry Cooder, and a host of excellent Galician singers and musicians, this album is a wonderful, varied, and exceptionally lively introduction to the music of Galicia. With excellent liner notes.
(Susana Seivane) Susana Seivane - Susana Seivane (Green Linnet, 2000). Seivane is a Galicean piper, whose youth belies the years she has put in mastering these (as the photo of her marching in a parade with her pipes when she was 3 indicates!). This is a fine, highly varied album of traditional tunes with a couple of songs thrown in by guest musicians. Green Linnet describes it as "vibrant, joyful, and full of surprises". I agree. A very refreshing and interesting album (Highly recommended)

Asturias

Located on the north coast of Spain, just east of Galicia, Asturias has its own musical tradition, with a focus on the Asturian gaita - the local bagpipe. Gijón, which is the largest town in Asturias (just bigger than the capital Oviedo), has an impressive bagpipe museum "museo de la gaita", containing dozens of examples of bagpipes from every corner of Europe and the middle east.

(un tiempu meyor) Llan de Cubel - Un tiempu meyor (Fono Astur, 1999). This 6 man group from Asturias, has toured the Bay Area several times, and I've seen them 3 times. But none of their live performances prepared me for how lovely this CD is. It is a mix of traditional Asturian tunes and gorgeous songs. I am particularly impressed by the lovely singing on this CD. Liner notes in English, Spanish and Asturian! (Highly recommended)
(Patrimoniu) Asturiana Mining Company - Patrimoniu (KRL Lochshore) I list this CD because it is one of the few Asturian CDs that is relatively easy to get (being on a Scottish label). The Asturian Mining Company's CD is more in the political folk song tradition, even including the Asturian version of "A Miner's Lifeguard", an American song made famous by Pete Seeger. I find this CD lacks the magic of Llan de Cubel's, but if you are hungry for Asturian music. Very good liner notes.

Asturian resources:

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