The Gaita

Gaita pipes

The Galician gaita is a mouth-blown bagpipe with one, two or three drones.  It is usually in the key of C, which pitches it a tone higher than the Scottish great highland bagpipe.  The scale that the gaita naturally plays is simply the major (diatonic) scale, and the range is one octave plus one note below, and (on a good day) two notes above.  However, it is possible to play in several different keys on the Galician gaita.  The chanter (the part that plays the tune) has a conical bore, and this allows the player to use ‘cross fingering’ to play sharps and flats to modify the basic scale.  

The repertoire for the Galician gaita consists of mainly dance music, and features some kinds of tune normally associated with Spain, such the pasodoble and the jota. However there are styles of music that are unique to Galicia.   One the most iconic styles is the muiñeira, which is in jig time (6/8).  Another kind of music is the stately ‘alborada’, which is an extended piece that was traditionally played at sunrise on fiesta days.  Examples of these and other styles can be found on our tunes page

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