Sunday, January 26, 2014

Region: Music of Galicia, Spain

 Let's go on a musical treasure hunt.  For this post we're heading to Spain to sample some flavorful music traditions. Grab your headphones and get on a board.

Tucked in northwest Spain, the province Galicia hosts a variety of music traditions, including folkloric traditions that Galician musicians innovate then present to international audiences.  While I'm mostly familiar with the folkloric songs thanks generous Spanish labels that send this music to me, I also have Galician jazz ensemble recordings in my collection.

The region hosts several music festivals each year featuring an array of genres of music, from opera and early music to pop rock, jazz and folkloric. for details.  However, I'll focus on the folkloric and jazz recordings and artists for this post.

The Celtic region of Spain along with Asturias, Galicia is situated between Portugal to the south, Asturias to the north, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Leon on the other.  You can find historic information of this fascinating province at

The folk music has mostly Celtic strains with Galician bagpipes, frame drums, tambourines accordion, hurdy-gurdy, wind instruments, and various types of lutes.  Go to and World Music Central's instrument directory, (the Galician instruments will be mixed in with other regional instruments from the world).

You will also hear Portuguese, Moorish, and Andalusian influences in the folk music.  The singing style is robust, usually with vocal ensembles such as women playing the traditional frame drum and singing. 

Gallego is the language of the region along with Castilian Spanish.  You will most likely find other languages spoken and sung in this region and I've heard Portuguese lyrics on occasion.

Here are some other helpful sites and resources:

Labels for folkloric and jazz music:

Folmusica, and


In the US & Canada (for the artist Uxia) (look for the Alan Lomax collection)


Here is a 2013 video of Basque accordion player Kepa Junkera performing with Xabier Diaz and the women's vocal ensemble, Adufeiras De Salitre.  This song appears on the album, Galiza, released by Folmusica and BOA labels.

Here is an example of Galicia pipers.

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