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Me presento: Xurde Perez, Virginia

 
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XurdePerez



Joined: 16 Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Williamsburg, VA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:49 am    Post subject: Me presento: Xurde Perez, Virginia Reply with quote

Hello! I just discovered the site yesterday and registered immediately. I'm "Xurde", although my "real" name is Jordi (my father is from Barcelona even though he is also of Asturian descent) but I don't mind being called Jorge either. I live in Virginia, work as a computer programmer in the food service industry (sounds weird doesn't it? computer programmer... food service... but yes, and it's a living as they say!). I'm happily married with one daughter.

I think "gaita" was one of the first words I ever learned in Spanish, at least one of the first I can remember. Gaita and folk culture, along with my mom's cooking, are my special memories. Since I'm "1st Generation" (I was born in New York City), I still have "one foot in Spain and one foot in the U.S." (when I was 19 I learned that I was conceived in Spain, so that 1st Generation thing was cutting it real close...!) Folk music was what I loved the most about Spain, both Catalunya and Asturies. I like that I had both because as a child I didn't distinguish the two, and as an adult I embrace both as part of my Spanish heritage. In Puigcerda and Lleida, gralles and bagpipes fill the streets during some festival days, and you all know about Asturias. To me that is magic. My favorite musicians are Llan de Cubel, Susana Seivane, Carlos Nunez and Silly Wizard. The last one, along with the Chieftains and Boys of the Lough was music my father loved. My father didn't know a thing about Celtic culture, never even used that word. But both he and my mom absolutely loved Irish and Scottish and Asturian music (and American Country music from the 70s and 80s along with the classic Rancheras of Mexico, like Irma Villa and Jorge Negrete). Because at first I rejected a lot of my "Spanishness", I preferred it when my dad would play Silly Wizard records. When I was a teenager and started experiencing the folk festivals at a deeper level, I embraced my Asturian heritage whole-heartedly because it hit the strongest chord inside my heart. It's funny because in the U.S., even though I am a native, I always felt (and was treated) like a foreigner. In Barcelona, the same was true. I was either "el Americano" or I was "el Asturiano." And here's the funny part: only among my Asturian, Irish and Scottish friends (or American Irish/Scottish wannabees) did I ever feel like I wasn't an outsider. Without any research to back it up, my American family always felt American (my cousins/peers in age all adopted the English form of their Spanish names, and to return to my first paragraph, among my American family almost all of them call me George! It's only my non-relatives that call me Jordi, Jorge or Xurde. How weird is that? But clearly there is something about Asturian culture, more so than any other part of Spain I think, that gels with a Celtic-American culture. Or perhaps that is just my experience in life. I went to UMass Amherst, all my friends were rockers and celtic-music fans, whether they were Americans or Europeans, and that "folk culture" united us to this day, and I consider myself lucky.

Well, I'm happy to be part of this group. I play accordion, recorder, whistle and guitar, and as I settle down in my new home here in Virginia I hope to meet with other musicians who would enjoy jamming to Celtic tunes.
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Art
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, Xurde!

If you already play penny whistle and recorder, you're ready for the gaita Asturiana! Those instruments are excellent preparation for some of the the skills needed to play the gaita. Have you considered taking it up?

If you're interested, I can help you get going. The first step is to practice with a revamped recorder that fingers like a gaita. It also helps to have a gaita method book with recordings of the tunes. Those I can provide. I find the practice chanter/recorder helpful, but many people skip the recorder stage and go directly to practicing with the gaita and our member Carlos is one of the best gaita makers: www.gaitaasturiana.com

I don't know of any Asturian-Americans in the Williamsburg area, but there are several in the DC area, including at least one rocker. Who knows, maybe your message will bring another out of the dark!
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XurdePerez



Joined: 16 Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Williamsburg, VA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Gaitas Reply with quote

Art, you made Christmas in July for me! I actually found your website while searching for a gaita. We are going to Spain again in December and I have been weighing whether or not to buy one. Most of the repertoire I play on accordion, and the gaita was just something that attracted me not for any practical reasons, but purely spiritual ones. I even want to purchase a montera when I'm there, probably the ancient one with two tips, very "Robin Hood" and would be a blast at a gig.

Now I'm going to check out www.gaitaasturiana.com and perhaps make a purchase sooner. If I remember my uncle's lessons, the difference between the recorder and the gaita fingering is that the gaita is simpler. All fingers, lowest note, every finger removed (from bottom up) is the next diatonic note up. Is this correct? I don't know how the accidentals work though. I think I really want to do this. I've actually played flamenco at La Tienda in Williamsburg, but want the opportunity to play material from northern Spain on an authentic gaita. Now... how to do run this by my esposa and fija? Ha! Smile
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Art
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are fairly cheap tourist monteras in a few shops. Those are usually black.

If you want a good montera made of authentic material and lined, you should place an order now. There are seamstresses who make them. I can give you the name and contact info of a good one. Many modern, good monteras are made with black cloth because that's sharp looking, but the ones our grandfathers used to wear were more likely a brown color. The good seamstresses can make those, but you'll never seen those in a tourist shop. A good montera will last several life times! Fathers used to pass their clothes to their sons in their wills.

If you're visiting Asturias, then you can pick up your gaita from Carlos when you visit. That's a little easier and cheaper than shipping it and Carlos is fun to talk to. Also, paying for it is also cheaper and easier because you don't have to do an international bank transfer. Most of the gaita makers have a waiting list, but with a little luck you should be able to get one by December.

The fingering is closed on the Asturian gaita, so it's more complicated than the whistle, but you learn it quickly. The upper hand is open (you lift all fingers of that hand below the note you're playing) and the lower hand is closed (you only lift one finger at a time). the advantage in having the lower hand closed is that you can create some very striking percussive sounds that break up the droning nature of the sound of any bagpipe.

Here's a fingering chart showing all the accidentals, too. It'll play a full scale, although I rarely use most of the accidentals.

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XurdePerez



Joined: 16 Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Williamsburg, VA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:57 pm    Post subject: Gracias! Reply with quote

Art, thank you for the chart! What did you mean by modifying a recorder? A wooden recorder right? Cover or drill holes?

For the mantera, I tried emailing :

http://www.asturshop.com/asturshop/infoprod.asp?idproducto=1474

but my emails get rejected. This website interested me because they have a BEAUTIFUL montera, as you said, in brown like I remember, and with two tips. I would love to purchase this one or one like it.

Thanks for your replies.
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Art
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4471
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a very good example of a good montera. The woman I use as seamstress can make one like that. Friends have used Asturshop, but I can never get them to answer my emails, either.

Can you write in Spanish? I could give you Mayte's email.

For several years, I've been developing a practice chanter for the Asturian gaita. Carlos gave me some quick ideas on how to do it by enlarging holes and drilling a couple of new ones, but the sound was only an approximation. I suspect that the unpleasant notes don't matter to an Asturian because they'd recommend that you practice on the real gaita. For an American, though, the level of the sound of a gaita (the noise level) is high enough that it's very helpful to be able to learn the tunes on a practice chanter. Your neighbors and family will thank you.

At any rate, I'm almost done my experimentation on optimizing the recorder. I never imagined that it would take this long! The practice chanter uses a plastic German recorder as the base. To get the fingering to produce pleasant sounds, I've had to move some of the holes and change the sizes of others, so it's a matter of filling and redrilling. The difference between the original version and my current model is incredible.
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Indalecio Fernandez



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 167
Location: San Martín de Podes, Gozón, Asturias

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hola Xurde. Mira esta página web, es de una tienda en Gijón: http://www.vezosycostumes.com/homecast.htm
Calle Alvaro de Albornoz, nº 13, Gijón, teléfono 985 35 75 80, Asturias.
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XurdePerez



Joined: 16 Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Williamsburg, VA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

Gracias por el enlace. Les enviare un email porque la montera es algo que me interesa segurisimo. Yo quiero probar las gaitas y lo hare cuando vaya a espana.
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XurdePerez



Joined: 16 Jul 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Williamsburg, VA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:46 am    Post subject: Mayte's email Reply with quote

Hola Art,
Si que escribo en castellano bastante bien, porque es mi lengua materna y paterna. Pero como estudie en ingles e hice todos mis estudios aqui en EEUU, tengo mejor vocabulario en ingles.

Please send me Mayte's email. I am too new to email you via this forum and give you my private info but you probably can email privately to me, so I'll wait for your email.

Thank you again.

-Xurde
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