The first known example of bertsolaritza that we know today dates back to the 19th century. However, improvisational oral tradition goes back thousands of years. Bertsolaritza is the art of improvisational verse singing that is a part of Basque culture. A bertso is always sung without accompaniment and has metre, rhyme, and airs (somewhat equivalent to melody that is specific to bertsos). A bertsolari (singer) doesn’t need to have a good voice to be successful. Success is more dependent on the melody chosen and the manner in which the bertsolari sings. While the air and rhyme are allowed to change and vary, the metre chosen does not allow for any flexibility. By having a rhyme and strict metre, it is very challenging for a bersolari to say exactly what they wish to say. There are such things as bertsolaritza competitions. One of the most common mistakes made is the repetition of the same rhyming word within the same verse. Hear bertsolaritza here and here.
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