String Instruments

Maniura (Harp)

maniuraAlthough there is no evidence of this instrument being used in recent times, early documents we have found show that it was most certainly used in earlier periods. Higinio Angles (1970) said that "Pierres de Carriere and Juanón de Ezpeleta, 'harp minstrels', met in 1407 at the Royal Court of Navarra...."

Padre Donostia's research (1952) shows that together with the guitar and the viola, there were also harps in the fourteenth-century Navarese court. The word maniura, the name in Euskera for this musical instrument, was discovered by Tristán de Aphezte in 1635 in a popular folk song dedicated to Joanes de Etcheberri (Padre Donostia, 1952).

Rabete (Violin/Fiddle)

arrabitaAs seen in the section on the rabete/rebec, it is clear that the word rabete or rabel is used to describe two different instruments (the rebec and the violin or fiddle). We will try here to base our study using only references made to the latter. Padre Donostia (1952) provides us with a few details on the subject: : A"Arrabit = double bass, rebec; arrabitari = violinist; arrabit-egile = luthier, one that makes stringed instruments; xirribita = violin, rebec; xirribitari = rebec player. The term 'soinu' (sound), is also called "soñu". The same word is used to refer to the ttunttun and "music" in general. 'Sunü', 'sonülari' = folk violinist." Further on we find information on the use of the fiddle at other times in history: "Pamplona, 1641. Y. Juan de Gorroz, rebec minstrel, and Guillén de Garroch, salterio, both Basques, making street music with violin and salterio, the violinist dancing. (Basques = French Navarre). / Lapurdi, 1819. L'orchestre... est composé pour l'ordinaire d'un violon ou d'une flûte à trois trous (chirola) (The orchestra generally includes a fiddle or a three-holed flute)."

On a list of musicians making an appearance at the Pamplona festivities in the eighteenth century were a number of fiddlers from Lapurdi, Alava, Baja Navarra, Gipuzkoa, Roncal, Baztan and other towns in Navarra (Ramos, 1990).

It is apparent that these instruments were very prominent throughout the Basque Country, either played solo, accompanied by the tambourine or on numerous occasions with the 'tamborín' and the 'salterio' (txirula/txistu and tamboril).

Zarrabete (hurdy-gurdy)

zarrabeteF. Baraibar Zumarraga offers the clearest definition of this instrument (from a lexicon of words used in Alava. Madrid, 1903): "Zarrabete - Blind man's organ, a musical instrument consisting of a rectangular box with strings. An iron crank turns a wheel located in the centre of the box, which strikes the strings. On one side are several keys which when pressed with the left hand, produce the different notes. / From the Basque word "charrabeta", or "rabel" (rebec) in the Larramendi, Aizkibel and Novia dictionaries, although "zarrabete" is quite different from the rabel, which is played with a bow."

Emilio Arriaga, in his 1896 book "Lexicón bilbaíno" (Bilbao Lexicon), states "from the Euskera word Txarrabeta - Type of rebec or handle-operated organ / Chinfonía.
This kind of mechanical fiddle has been used all over Europe since the Middle Ages. As far as Euskal Herria is concerned, documental evidence of the instrument has been seen up until the nineteenth century (Donostia, 1952; Ramos, 1990; Irigoien, 1994).






Buy Your Commemorative T-shirt Today!


Foku Musikala