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Types of Traditional Music From Asturies

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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 4:45 am    Post subject: Types of Traditional Music From Asturies Reply with quote

This article was translated from an article in Asturianu found here: http://www.geocities.com/titoasturies/estilos.html with additions and comments (probably by our member Ana C. Pinto, aka "Lula Jones").

I have added a few comments in brackets [ ] to clarify the translation.

Types of Traditional Music From Asturies

(alba means dawn)
These are gaita pieces similar to pasucais and marches, but were meant to wake up the neighbors on the morning of the Fiesta day. Then the musicians were given fresh milk and bread just out of the oven in the houses. Some well known pieces are: Alborada del Maquilo, Alborada del paxarín, Alborada d’Amandi

These are lullabies, songs to help babies sleep. The lyrics may be strange since the subject frequently is adulterous relationships, where the lullaby works as a warning to the lover waiting outside that the husband is still at the house. The most popular one is Agora non. Not all the lyrics are like that, though.

These are songs for voice only. This is one of the most important styles as far as complexity and variety goes. It seems it relates to the cante jondo of Andalusian Spain, although style and use are very different. Chiefly sung at cider breweries Sidrerías o Chigres (cider is the national drink in Asturias and Sidrerías and Chigres are traditional socializing centers). This type of song now receives much acknowledgement (In the 80´s singing at Sidrerías was estimated so uncool that was actually forbidden). It is sung by voice alone or accompanied by gaita (the pipers have to be really skilled to follow the inflexions of the singer). Famous Tonada singers such as El Presi used also guitars and piano as accompaniment. Famous examples of Tonada are the pieces Dime paxarín parleru, Coyí d’un artu una flor and Pastor que tas nel monte.

DANCES [In Asturianu the singular "Danza" becomes "Dances" in the plural form.]
(danzar means to dance)
There are some very ancient indeed dances, as El Pericote from the Llanes area, and the Corri-corri from Cabrales, and these are entirely different from others that still survive in Asturias since early historical times. The Corri-corri is thought to be a Celtic dance. They have ritual meaning. El Pericote is a prenuptial dance and Corri-corri has a magical or religious significance.

DANCES PRIMES [In Castilian, Danza prima literally means "original or first dance." Dances primes isn't awkward English; it's the spelling in Asturianu.]
These are also very ancient dances. The dancers form a great circle holding hands and the steps are very simple, one step forward the next backward, moving anti-clock wise, with great solemnity (much like traditional Breton dances). Many examples of Dances primes can be found, with different versions in different areas of Asturies: Danza Prima de Luarca, Danza Prima de Las Vieyas, as well as their influence in songs as: Como la Flor, ¿Onde vas por agua? or Santa Bárbara bendita.

Although this rhythm did not originate in Asturies, it became very popular and there are many examples there. People liked it because of the complexity of the steps, that increases in each turn. It was dance since the seventeenth century, and although in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula is sung with lyrics of four verses of eight sylabes, in Asturias usually one more is added. Well known surviving fandangos are El Fandango Puntiáu, ¡Ay Pachín!, N’Uvieu nun me caso, L’Aldeanu, el Ringo Rango and Rio Verde[/b].

FLOREOS [In Asturianu, the singular "floreu" becomes "floreos" in the plural.]
Floreos are not songs by themselves but an introductory scale that of free rhythm. It probably started off as a test of the gaita, to check out if all the notes of the chanter were properly tuned, spanning the floreu all the notes of the diatonic scale of the gaita. Later it became an embellishment for the songs (one is played frequently before and sometimes other of the same also after many songs) and also a show-off of the skill of the piper. It is also the signature of the gaiteru since each tends to make his or her own floreos.

The jota was popular through the Iberian Peninsule. In Asturias, in contact with local music forms it changed. It was named baille llixero (light dance), baille pesao (heavy dance) or bailles de pandeiru (tambourine dances). Very well known Jotes are the themes La Jota’l Centru, A mi megusta la gaita, with the first one happened the same as with the Saltones (see below) that are songs to which other songs were added, as is the case also with the La Jota da Rosa, La Xota Pumarega, La Xota L.leitariegos, La Xota Payares, Baile del Centro

This is one of the most characteristic genres of the repertoire for gaita and is also very popular also in the neighboring region of Galicia. In Asturies there are three varieties (in general), proceeding from the three main areas of Asturies: eastern, center and western (oriente, centru, occidente). The ones from the center and east are the most varied and developed. The fact that the digitation of Asturian and Galician gaita is different explains why some pieces that are played in both repertoires do sound different when executed in either instrument. There are very many Muñeiras: Muñeira Boal, Muñeira d’Ibias, Muñeira del Gaiteru Lliberdón, Muñeira del Centru, Muñeira de Bargañaz, Muliñeira d’Ancadeira

These are classical themes for gaita. They were played in fiesta days while strolling the streets of the village heading for the church or going to the pastures where the dance was to be held. Pasucáis del Xarrero, Pasucáis de Peruyes and Pasucáis d’Uvieu are the best known examples.

These dances are a lot more modern, from the nineteenth century, and some of them are so recent, indeed, that we even know their composers. Songs like A la mar fui por naranxes, N’el campu ñacen flores are also known out of Asturies, but others as Oigo sonar una gaita are purely from Asturies.

(saltar means to jump)
Salton is related to the very ancient dances of Asturies, although a lot faster. It is called so because the steps are very exaggerated and dancing it is very tiresome. It is a classic piece of gaita, as this instrument always plays for the dancers. It’s also known as Xiringüelu, A lo lixero or Saltiquera, because the piper jumps from one theme to the next, making the Saltón a piece marked by improvisation to which the piper adds up his own pieces or other songs. Thus themes such as Villaviciosa hermosa were finally incorporated in a Saltón. There are very many examples of Saltones and Xiringüelos.

(vaca means cow)
Again the name points to the origin of this type of song. They were sung by the vaqueiros d’alzada, in western Asturias, and there are a great variety of versions, with lyrics and verses that are frequently interchangeable. Well known examples are Vaqueira, Casa las fichas or Vaqueirina, vaqueirina as well as many others collected in the book by Torner (Martínez Torner, Eduardo, 1920 Cancionero Musical de la Lírica Popular Asturiana, recently reedited).

(girar, xirar means to spin)
This style had its origins in the fusion of two pre-existing forms: jotes and dances primes, and became the most popular and abundant of styles. The dance itself consists in spinning on one foot one complete circle then holding each other by the fingers to restart the dance. In the Cancionero (a book) Torner collected many examples of songs of this type. Other types of tune that belong in this group include Asturies, Patria Querida (which is the Asturies Anthem), Chalaneru, El Carmín de La Pola, El mio Xuan, Fuí al Cristu La romería de San Andrés, Una vez dixisti que si, Debaxu del molín

This type of dance is also very ancient and is dated back to the fifteenth century. Was used in dances for children as well as just being sung all together. The name relates to the word xerigonza which is how the Latin language spoken by monks was popularly known. A classic example of this genre is La Xiringosa or Geringosa.
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