Little Galicia

Who'd have thought it? Oxford is home to a thriving Galician diaspora and they were out in force this week for the first of what I hope will be many music sessions at the James Street Tavern. Galicia is the north west peninsula of Spain, and, like their Atlantic cousins in Brittany and Cornwall, Galicians have a strong regional and musical identity. Their bagpiping tradition stems from the Middle Ages and is unbroken.

The session was organised by Mano Panforreteiro, a fine piper (gaitero) and musician - regular readers will have spotted him in the Whirly Band. When time allows we get together and play pipes in Mansfield College Chapel, a rare treat.

I stupidly forgot my camera but I did take some field recordings which I think capture the sun-baked atmosphere of the night. There was singing and dancing and someone even brought a plate of very potent sausage and even more potent cheese. That's how a session should be.

Foliada de Tenorio

Muinera Spanish Jig

Tune-spotters amongst you will notice that the last tune is Spanish Jig, introduced into the English session repertoire by the band Blowzabella. I'd always assumed that the tune was Galician but Mano had never heard it. He plays it now, however, and consequently it may very well find its way back to Iberia. As the old saying goes, love and music need no passports.


  1. Nice. I remember wandering village backstreets in Galicia and being surprised then bewitched by someone practicing bagpipes in their back garden. Just before I saw a cat run off with a lizard in its mouth and I found the still-writing lizard's tail on the cobbles. Lovely part of the world!

  2. "Still-writhing" that should be. If the tail was writing, well, I would have moved to Galicia already...

  3. I do love that Moorish influence in the music of the Iberian lands. There is a wealth of history in just those few dancing notes.

  4. Wasn't Alice in Wonderland encouraged to do a bit of reeling and writhing - or did I make that up?

  5. I think Spanish Jig is actually called Fleur de Bruyére and composed by Jean-Francois Dutertre ( It was one of those tunes Blowzabella liked and didn't know the name of so gave it a working title.

  6. The plot thickens! So a recently composed tune comes to England, gets renamed cos of the way it sounds, and heads to Spain. Sometimes I think they have a life of their own...



Featured post

Shroom: ten years on

I find it hard to believe but it's exactly ten years since my book Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom was published. Thou...

Popular Posts

Twitter Updates