Archive for the ‘song’ Category

Memoria da noite

December 7, 2018

I’ve known this song by Luar na Lubre for a few years now, but only last week discovered the Irish tune Carolan’s dream (aka Molly McAlpine, see dots here) by the blind harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), which very obviously inspired Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to heaven. Re-listening to Memoria da noite after obsessing about Carolan’s dream for a few days, I now hear the Irish tune in Memoria da noite as well (so we could play any or all of these three at Galician sessions!). Compare and contrast:

Here’s Carolan’s dream on a steel-stringed Irish harp:

a version with a modern concert harp:

and here’s Led Zeppelin live:

enjoy …



Sing with the Oxford Pandeireteiras

November 11, 2018

The Pandeireteiras are about to begin taking monthly classes with an experienced local singing tutor / community choir leader. This will be English speaking and without tambourines, so anybody who likes the Galician songs can join in. Classes are likely to be held in Botley on a Thursday evening. Contact me or any of the Pandeireteiras for further details.


photo from the February session – can’t believe I haven’t shared any of these on wordpress before (there is one on flickr though).


Najla Shami

June 15, 2018

Palestinian-Galician singer Najla Shami is going to give a concert at Queens College Oxford on Thursday 21.6., tickets available from Eventbrite, and here’s here latest video, a song based on a poem from Rosalia de Castro:


Mira-me Miguel

June 1, 2018

Looking into versions of Mira-me Miguel, one of the songs in our repertoire, I discovered this one which features simultaneous playing of two recorders, much as in the banner picture at the top of this blog. I should try this some time …   But everything else about this video is lovely too, from the viola da gamba to the Portuguese singing (we sing a Galician version but this is actually a Portuguese song, from Miranda do Douro).



Lúa de prata

May 12, 2018

So the annual day of Galician literature, Día das Letras Galegas is coming up on Thursday. It features a (safely deceased) writer each year, who wrote in Galician – they don’t have to be Galician by birth, and this year’s laureate, for instance, the poet and children’s writer Maria Victoria Moreno (1939-2005), only came to Galicia and to its language at age 22. She describes her relation with the language as a love story:

“Eu non son alófona porque o que practico, se é que escribo, podería definirse coma unha amorosa autofonía […]. A miña relación con Galicia e a miña opción pola súa lingua é simplemente unha historia de amor.” (source)

For this year’s Día das Letras Galegas the band Fuxan os Ventos has set music to one of Moreno’s poems, watch their video here. With their polyphonic arrangement, the band make it sound quite difficult, but it isn’t really. The tune only has 5 notes which are in G major and can be easily played eg on a tin whistle in D.  To demonstrate that it isn’t as hard as it seems, I’ve recorded my approximation of the tune here (also in G major, just an octave lower than Fuxan os Ventos play it).

There is a major cultural gathering in London on the Sunday (13th) ahead of the day, but not much going on around here on the day itself, so I’m hoping we can at least have a go at singing Moreno’s words (scroll down to find the poem below the image), even if it may not turn out quite as perfect as the Fuxan os Ventos version.







Neste amencer de pombas indecisas

conversarei coas fontes

onde beben pesares cristalinos

as sombras que se axitan pola noite.


Esa lúa de prata

atopou o tesouro

que eu perdera na auga.


No laio dos farois agonizantes

evocarei os nomes

que acenderon lucernas balbucintes

nas fragas mestas onde os medos dormen.


Esa lúa de prata

atopou o tesouro

que eu perdera na auga.


Neste tremor de chumbo e de diamante

serei luz que se esconde

no ardor aceso que xerou os días

ou na xerfa esfiañada en surtidores.


Esa lúa de prata

atopou o tesouro

que eu perdera na auga.


No rubor das estrelas acaladas

achegareime á morte,

sentirei o feitizo dos seus ollos,

eo seu bico na fronte.


(Maria Victoria Moreno. Do libro: Elexías de luz, editado por Edicións Xerais. 2006)

Aí vén o Maio

April 30, 2018

Tomorrow bright and early (6:30 am or so) the Oxford Pandeireteiras will be singing a traditional Galician May song, Aí vén o Maio, on the steps of the Clarendon Building in Broad Street, with the Whirly Band. Here’s one of my photos from last year’s event:



oh, and a few other people will be out and about as well, doing various folk-y things …


Agarrado de Vilar de Cabeiras

April 13, 2018

new song the pandeireteiras are currently working on.  I think it’s probably going to end up in A (starting F#) so once that is confirmed I can prepare some dots.


Verdegaio lilá

March 8, 2018

For International Women’s Day, here’s a reworked version of our old favourite O Verdegaio:


PS 10.3.: By now I’ve discovered many more versions / recordings, most under the title Verdegaio Lila and with a longer text, like eg this one, which includes lyrics on the youtube page:


Incidentally, we had a go at that during the Pandeireteiras meeting on the very day (which happened to coincide with International Womens Day).  It was a bit of a challenge to fit all the extra words but I think it worked very well in the end.


Anda Maruxiña

March 2, 2018

In quite a few Galician songs (eg Barciademera, Pasodobre de Sisamo) we find the name Maruxiña, which is, quite obviously, a second derivative of Maria: Maria – Maruxa – Maruxiña. However, I spotted the same word in a novel, where it was written in lower case, so I had to look up its other meaning. Turns out that maruxiña (lower case) is the ladybird (taxonomically, any beetle from the family Coccinellidae), which makes perfect sense if you think about it, as the English word ladybird also refers to the virgin Mary, as does the German Marienkäfer, and the Spanish mariquita.

Wikipedia in English says:” The name “ladybird” originated in Britain where the insects became known as “Our Lady’s bird” or the Lady beetle. Mary (Our Lady) was often depicted wearing a red cloak in early paintings, and the spots of the seven-spot ladybird (the most common in Europe) were said to symbolise her seven joys and seven sorrows”.

The German version has a slightly different story, it claims that medieval peasants thought the ladybirds, which were helpful to them, to be a magical present from the virgin Mary, thus named them after her. Oh, and the Dutch wikipedia traces it back to Germanic roots, apparently it was associated with the goddess Freya, which would explain that upon Christianisation some languages transferred it to Mary, and some to God, as in Dutch Lieveheersbeestjes and French bête à bon Dieu. The more widely used French word coccinelle, however, as well as the systematic name, derives from the conspicuous colour. Latin coccinus is crimson.

PSA: This has been the first instalment in a new series on Galician words. Watch this space.


Photo: wikipedia


Fisterra (signed version)

March 1, 2018

We had a lovely little session yesterday, in spite of the wintry weather conditions, thanks to all who braved the snow and came out.

I have struggled for a while to get a good video of our traditional closing anthem, Fisterra, the rendition of which tends to suffer from people packing up and leaving (if not physically then perhaps mentally). Here at least is a funny clip of last night’s closing ceremony, with explanatory signing added by Maria and Bea, maybe it helps the uninitiated to appreciate the beauty of the lyrics …


PS clip is short and sweet, as my camera also decided it had heard enough …