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Basque songs and music

Like dancing, Basque singing is an intrinsic part of Basque culture yet these two aspects of Basque cultural identity are often relegated to the “folklore” list.

The tradition of Basque singing

In the Basque Country, every emotion can be expressed by singing and at any event, be it private or public (men’s, women’s and mixed choirs). Today’s Basque artists have adapted their music to current trends while maintaining the original sounds and distinctive features.

The repertoire of Basque songs covers many popular themes. The reputation of Basque choirs is seen at its best when interpreting solemn songs.

Basque choirs are widespread: there are around fifty choirs in the three northern provinces. Singing is so deeply rooted in Basque civilisation that during pelote matches even the scores are sung by an official singing scorer!

Bertsularisme” or the art of singing improvised poetry is taught to young people and they then take part in Basque Country championships.

Traditional musical instruments

The most typical Basque musical instruments are the “txalaparta” (thick planks of wood hit with wooden sticks by two musicians standing face to face), the “txistu” (a three-holed flute), the tambourine or “ttun-ttun” (a hide-covered tambourine).

In the Basque Country, any event will serve as a pretext to break into song. A Basque will express his emotions as well as the spirit and pride of the people in song.