||The Basque's developed rhythm by
using a tree trunk, a rock or any other object to create a
primitive sound and through this ritual the txalaparta came to
The txalaparta was not a musical
instrument like many thought, but was a communication device. It
was used between "caserios" to communicate various
events (i.e. funerals, festivities..).
The txalaparta is made up of a dried up
board (tablon or ohola), usually of alder, chestnut or wild cherry wood.
The plank is about 2 metres long and 20 cm wide varying in thickness
between 2 cms to 7 cms. The difference in thickness is due to the
irregularities or concavities that the plank may have, therefore the
The plank is supported on either side by 2
baskets (otarrak), placing dried corn leaves between the two for
The txalaparta is played by two
txalapartaris (jotzaileak) with two drumsticks (makilak) for each
player, made out of acacia, elm or ash wood. The drumsticks used for
percussion should be at least 50 cms in height by 4 cms in diameter. The
performers or jotzaileak face each other.
|Two types of beats:
- BIKOA: one of the jotzaieak
strikes 2 consecutive beats and lifts the drumsticks
simultaneously. Using "bikoa" as a beat and
leaving the same moment for pause between the two strikes
will formulate the rhythm of the composition.
- ERRENA: consists of placing one
or 2 beats between 2 "bikoas". If you can fit in 2
beats and 2 "bikoas", that is called "LAUKOA"
The txalapartaris do not always
play the same beat. In fact, while one is playing one rhythm the
other does the counterpoint (a beat played in combination with
another beat), then they change in order to end up with the
"Laukoak". Mixing these different rhythms and changing
the speed they can produce different callings.
The two different callings have been
classified as follows:
- The calling of cal (KARE DEIA). Used to
summon the neighbours to prepare cal used for plaster and domestic
- The calling to battle (GUDA DEIA). This
calling is well know thanks to the documents that were kept at the
Diputacion Foral de Alava, that dates back to Imperial Roman times.
The cited documents describe that when the
Romans worked there way into the mountains they could here the rhythmic
sound of wood pounding. Such sound was a calling to the other Basque's
to defend against the invaders.
From these two callings there are 3
- Funeral calling (ILETA DEIA)
- Cider calling (SAGARDO DEIA). Once the
cider was prepared, the calling went out to the neighbours inviting
them to sample.
The difference between the two is speed - very slow for the first
and fast for the second. Other than that the beat is the same.
- Festivity calling (JAI DEIA). It is
played a little slower than "sagardo deia". The one doing
the counterpoint starts improvising gradually, ending with the
The txalaparta today can be heard in
certain towns, played by talented musicians, using there imagination to
interpret the soul of the Basque roots.
Hear the sounds of txalaparta: