World percussion: Basque Country

Today I'm talking about the two major percussion instruments from the Basque Country: the Txalaparta and the danbolin.

The Txalaparta 

The txalaparta (IPA: [tʃaˈlapaɾta] or [tʃalaˈpaɾta]) is a specialized Basque music device of wood or stone, similar to Romanian toacă. In Basque, zalaparta (with [s]) means "racket", while in the nearby areas of Navarre "txalaparta" has been attested as meaning the trot of the horse, a sense closely related to the sound of the instrument.

Music is made using the txalaparta by having one or more performers, known as txalapartariak, txalapartaris or jotzaileak produce differing rhythms, playing with wood knots and spots of the boards for different tones. Nowadays the boards have often been arranged to play notes and even melody along the lines of the score, which may on the one hand further widen for the txalapartaris the possibilities to sophisticate the music. On the other hand, some txalaparta players rule out this novelty as alien to the instrument, essentially rhythmical.

Both players perform consecutively by striking with the sticks on the boards. The performance is played by ear, except for the main lines of the playing, say rhythmic pattern (binary, ternary), main beat pattern (fours...) etc., which both txalapartaris may agree on in advance of the performance. In addition, they may use ready-made passages embedded in a specific part of the playing, notably at the beginning and the ending. It is worth mentioning in this category the Sagardo Deia, meaning the Cider Call, a popular set beginning for a traditional txalaparta performance that may differ slightly from some txalapartaris to others. A pre-established whole composition may be arranged as well, while that kind of playings are rare to be seen.
Much of the success of the performance relies on the collusion between both players, so the more they are acquainted with each other's ways, tricks and likings (the flaws too!) the smoother the performance will go and the easier will be for the txalapartaris to show their aptitudes and excel in their playing.

The danbolin

This kind of drum, called danbolin, usually accompanying the txistu. The txistu is an three-hole pipe that can be played with one hand, leaving the other one free to play usually the danbolin. As I could not find much more information for this instrument, I'll update this post in the future.

Stay tunned, more post coming soon.

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