August 17, 2008
I’m fascinated by the early regional music of Spain. The variety of songs and musical styles found in one country, even a country with many autonomous communities, is quite amazing. I’ve previously posted music from País Vasco (Basque Country), Asturias, and of course, the most well known folk music of Spain, flamenco from Andalucía. And while the music from all of these regions can be captivating, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Spain. There’s cobla music from Catalonia, the jota from Aragon, fiddle music from Mallorca, dulzaina music from Valencia, unbelievable unaccompanied shouts from the mountainous region of Cantabria, not to mention the distinct music of Navarro, Extremadura, the Canary Islands…on and on. We’re lucky it was captured on 78s, though finding much beyond hot selling flamenco records of the 40s can be a dogged struggle. It’s music that, unless we lived in these regions in the first three decades of the 20th century, you and I were not meant to hear.
Today: the wonderful sounds of the gaita galega, the bagpipe of Galicia in northwest Spain. Faustino Santalices (1877-1960) was a legendary master of both the zanfona (the hurdy gurdy in Spain) as well as the gaita, though his recorded output was quite limited. Here he is joined by Modesto Sanchéz in a gaita duet stemming from 1929. They are accompanied by the tambor (snare drum) and bombo (bass drum). It seems from the description that Santalices and Sanchéz were both performing in Galicia’s Coral de Ruada at the time (also known as the Coro de Ruada). Coral de Ruada’s historical recordings have been released on a relatively hard-to-find issue by the Ouvirmos label here – they are well worth checking out, though I can’t vouch for the CD quality. They still exist today, too!
A different take of this song, from the same 1929 sessions (originally released on the Regal label), was released on a Santalices CD several years ago on the Boa label, titled Gravacions Historicas De Zanfona 1927-1949. Boa claimed it was the definitive collection of Santalices’ work, though thanks to Félix Castro and Tony Klein, who contributed comments and compared my version and Boa’s (see the comments section), we know this track is either a new discovery, or one that was simply unknown at the time of the CD’s production, and therefore left out. What made matters more confusing, was that the record label was in fact a botch, and the song titles were mislabeled on either side. Either way, I hope it is new to you.
Issue Number: 291004
Matrix Number: WK 1398 (A8685A)