Spanish regional music: Galicia

This fascinating region to the north west of Spain, with its cliffs and beautiful and – to me – mysterious coastline, sometimes forgotten by much of Spain ( except when its beaches and fish industry were ruined by oil spillage ) is home to a Celtic-derived culture and folk music. Ortigueira’s Festival del Mundo Celta is one of the more important of several local festivals which celebrate the area’s Celtic influence.

We know that there were Celtic settlers here in 600 B.C. There may be however more nostalgia than reality in claiming an ancient origin for the region’s music. Susana Seivane, a popluar gateria, says ‘I think (the Celtic moniker) is a label, to sell more. What we do is Galician music’.

Carlos Nunez might not agree. His book ‘A Immanade Das Estrelas(1996) has sold more than 100,000 copies since published in 1996. An artist much in demand and a virtuoso of the characteristic bagpipe (gaita), he has worked with The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor and also with Ry Cooder in the U.

S.A. and Cuba’s Vieja Triva Santiaguera. (Folk meets Pop yet again!).

Drum and pipe groups as well as the gaita are the most common accompaniment to Galician folk music – and at some time in this series we must gather together some of these distinctive instruments. The most traditional examples of popular folk music are believed to be chant-based songs of some antiquity. These ‘alalas’ may be closely related to Gregorian chanting, though some scholars apparently also suggest a Greek origin or Phoenician rowing songs. Whenever we look at Spanish music we meet history….

…as we shall find next time when we look at Aragon and Extramdura.