Traditional Basque Instruments

As well as having a very unique language, the Basque people also have a few very unique instruments that make up their more traditional music and even play a role in more modern music. One of those instruments is the txistu. The txistu is a wood flute with three holes, two in the front of the flute and one in the back, and is typically played in the left hand while playing the danbolina in the right. The danbolina is a small drum that is held by the left elbow and played with the right hand. Click here to hear the txistu and danbolina.


Another traditional instrument is the alboka. The alboka is a double-tubed cane pipe with a reed on an end of each tube. A cow horn on both ends encloses the reeds. This instrument can be challenging to play since it requires circular breathing to create a continuous sound. In this case, it is somewhat similar to the bagpipes. Click here to hear the alboka.


Another traditional instrument is the dultzaina. The dultzaina is a double-reed wind instrument often made of metal but originally made of wood. The instrument has seven holes with six in the front and one in the back. It is most common to find two dultzaina players accompanied by a drum. Click here to hear the dultzaina.


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3 Responses to Traditional Basque Instruments

  1. cesndrs2 says:

    I don’t believe I had ever heard of or seen these instruments before! There seem to be so many cultural music events around campus, and I think it would be really neat if a local concert featured some of these unique instruments. I wonder if any are featured in the Basque national anthem. I am also curious to know how frequently young musicians train with these instruments, in comparison with more internationally known traditional orchestral instruments. Because the dultzaina, alboka, and txistu are traditional Basque instruments and most likely utilized in songs of folklore, I would love to hear how they could be incorporated into contemporary music as well.

  2. ldcummi2 says:

    Kaixo! I had never heard of any of these instruments, it´s very interesting how most of them seem to be in the wind family. I wonder if we have any Basque groups who have performed in Krannert with these instruments, or if we have any samples in the Music Building or one of the museums on campus.

  3. laleman2 says:

    I really like that you chose this topic! I did not know there were specific instruments in terms of ones that are from the Basque country. I would definitely try the alboka if I had the chance to try one of these instruments. I used to be in band for two years in grade school and have always liked music, so it would be a fun experience to see these instruments being played by people of the Basque Country!

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