Archive for the ‘video’ Category

Cantigas de Santa Maria

December 13, 2019

In recent days I have been obsessing about the Cantigas de Santa Maria a bit, so here’s a copy of a blog post I made on my personal blog (I’m more likely to keep it up to date there than here, as I log on to blogspot every day):

The Cantigas de Santa Maria – 420 songs in mediaeval Galician (aka Galician-Portuguese) collected by Alfonso X. in the 13th century – are an important foundation of Galician culture, and one or two of them have been played (as instrumental tunes) at our Galician sessions as well. However, our harper who plays them from memory, had learned them without numbers or titles, so they were almost impossible to find.



I recently attended a seminar on the cantigas (the relevant paper is here), where I learned lots of things about their structures and storytelling. Also about the fundamentals – for instance, the images of musicians, like the ones above, appear only in one of the four known manuscripts. Two others include illustrations relating to the stories of miracles told in nine out of every ten cantigas.

The seminar inspired me to look at the mystery of our harper’s cantiga again and I discovered that the lovely database Cantigas de Santa Maria for singers has a forward arrow on the pages displaying the modern notation for each cantiga. Until now I had assumed that I had to access each one separately with several clicks each time, but in fact I can just flick through them. Which I did, and starting at number one, I found that the cantiga we play most often is actually number seven. Quick and easy – not sure if I’d have had the stamina to find it if it had been number 407.

So it’s called

Santa Maria amar devemos

and here is a lovely version with karaoke text lines, so you can sing along (and unlike some other versions I found, the melody sticks very close to the version we play):

In other CSM news, I just acquired a big book of solo pieces for alto recorder (Altblockflötensolobuch by Barbara Hintermeier and Birgit Baude, Schott 2014), and that also contains two of the cantigas, namely

No. 353 Quen a omagen da virgen (lyrics video here)
No. 166 Como Poden

I really like the 353 as a recorder piece, haven’t quite gotten my head round the 166 yet.

Our gaiteiro, David Carril says he can play No. 100, Santa Maria strela do dia, so I will learn that one as well. Stop press – here’s a video where you can read the manuscript while listening to the music.

In terms of recordings, there are lots of them on YouTube, obviously. This channel has so many, it may well be all of them, but they are in no particular order and mixed with videos of other early music, so it’s hard to tell. The ones I checked usually had the lyrics displayed in some form.

This video: Fiesta en el corte de Alfonso el Sabio combines recordings of some 14 cantigas by different artists with a large number of the musicians miniatures from the manuscript.

I have a CD by Ensemble Alcatraz, called Vision and Miracles (1988) which includes CSM 103, 333, 117, 34, and 42 along with an instrumental suite using several cantigas and some other medieval pieces.

The Dufay Collective has recorded a CD full of cantigas, which is called Miracles.

Estampie have recorded a few. No. 120 Quantos me creveren (the numbers ending in 0 are songs of praise as opposed to stories of miracles) is included in their “Best Of” CD (2007) and a few more are on their album Signum (2004) including Non e gran cousa (26), Non devemos (27) and Quen na virgen (this could be 186, 256, or possibly 59, 103, or 276 – I don’t have this CD).

La Capella Reial de Catalunya have recorded a dozen cantigas with Hesperion XX and Jordi Savall, available on CD as “Cantigas de Santa Maria – strela do dia”. I’m a bit confused as Amazon seems to think it dates from 2017, but since the millennium the ensemble has been known as Hesperion XXI, so I suspect it may be a re-release of a 1990s recording. Oh, and somebody posted it on Youtube in 2013.

How it all began

August 4, 2019

If anybody out there stumbled upon our session and experienced the Oxford Pandeireteiras in full swing they may well wonder how this all started. I just discovered (as nobody tells me anything) a documentary from ~2012 with the first generation of pandeireteiras here, but without them playing any music. The brand new traditional music course launched by the Galician Studies Centre in January 2012 gets a mention.

This is part of a series of one-hour documentaries on Galician migrants around the world (each featuring one city) that ran from 1.7.2010 (London) to 2.7.2015 (episode 91: San Francisco).  Made for an audience back home in Galicia, this is more about the culture of the host country of course, and how the migrants experience it, so in the Oxford episode you’ll hear UK pop music (I need to listen again to check if they played any actual Oxford bands) rather than Galician ones.


Update: I just discovered a YouTube playlist which includes all 91 episodes in chronological order. Episode 9 on Brussels is of interest for fans of Galician music as one of the interviewees is Nuria from IALMA (she’s up second, so about 10 mins in).

Events in July

July 5, 2019

Most importantly, our session will exceptionally happen _not_ on the last Wednesday, but on the 4th, due to impending summer holidays. I’ll do the official post later in the month, but wanted to flag this up here as an early warning.

Some exciting events coming up this month:

Sunday 7.7. Slow Session, earlier than usual at 2pm  Also: Cowley Road Carnival

Monday 8.7. French/Breton Session at the Port Mahon – also advertised on, so some dancing likely to happen.

Tuesday 9.7. Scandi Folk Workshop / concert with the Oxford Fiddle Group and the band Doggerland, at Headington Quarry Village Hall starting 8pm. The split between concert and workshop will be roughly 50:50.

Saturday 13.7. Extinction Rebellion folk session in Cornmarket Street (outside Barclay’s Bank) 11-14h.

Wed 24.7. (NB exceptionally not the last Wed, but the 4th!) Galician Session Oxford, Port Mahon, 82 St. Clements St., OX4 1AW.  As the 24th is the last day of school and people tend to disappear for the summer, we’ll have the July session on the 4th Wednesday rather than the last.

Sat 27.7. I hear there may be a major Galician thing happening on that day in Hyde Park, London, details TBC.


Oh, and as a souvenir of last month’s amazing events, here is a video that our dancers made of the Midsummer Mazurka in Broad Street:





June 5, 2019

back in 2017, we played the tune of Despacito (that year’s global summer hit, after Justin Bieber partially anglicised the original Spanish version by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which had already been hugely successful in Latin America) at one of the Galician sessions in London, which was great fun. I am fairly sure I figured out then that the title would translate as Amodiño and I tried to find a Galician version but could only find one using the tune with a completely different topic, something about agriculture and the eucalyptus crisis.

Now I finally found a proper Amodiño when looking for something else entirely, and I really like this version by the utterly brilliant group De Vacas, we should try it one day. Essentially, they are keeping the sexual theme while subverting the machismo typical of reggaeton.



I’m still struggling to decrypt the lyrics, but here are a few bits and pieces that were quoted in Spanish press reports:


quero ulir o teu pescozo amodiño,

deixa que che diga cousas ao ouvido,

para lubricarnos e vaia suaviño.



quero espirte a bicos moi amodiño,

tocarno-las cachas só un pouquiño,

facelo seguro con preservativo.

sube sube ….

Quero cargar o teu pelo,

quero darche un bico,

acariñar as túas ingles,

os meus lugares favoritos.

favorito favorito neno

Déixame facerche as uñas, toda a manicura,

ir a clases de pintura, es da miña estatura,



May 30, 2019

This video was used in a lecture on Galician poetry recently, as an example of the “modern” things you can do with poetry – the audience looked slightly bewildered, and I was clearly the only one who knew the traditional song that’s been remixed here:


It’s A miña burriña – see a late night a cappella rendition filmed after one of our sessions here. (lyrics)

Update 10.6.2019: Catching up with the podcasts of Un Pais Mundial, I’ve just discovered that Baiuca (real name Alex Casanova) talks about his approach to music in the edition of April 16 (quite early on in the programme).

O baile de Noró

March 30, 2019

Another song from Xabier Diaz that the Pandeireteiras may be adding to their repertoire. I may just be slightly addicted to this video:



We have a complete transcription of the lyrics now if anybody wants them I can send a PDF.


February 28, 2019

An ancient video of the Oxford Pandeireteiras in full swing, singing Palmira at the session of February 2016. This song is normally done a cappella, just with tambourines (and possibly my cajon):


Looking for versions on youtube, most share only the chorus with ours, their verses have different text (sometimes starting with pasei pola tua porta, which we have as a different song) and different tune (eg: Leilia). And then there’s the group Faltriqueira who use our verses more or less but drop the chorus. The only recording that has the same structure as ours is by the group A quenlla.

Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre

January 28, 2019

A reminder that Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre are playing the Rich Mix at London this coming Wednesday 30th. (Because of that gig, we held our session a week earlier, so no session this Wednesday!) Xabier Díaz will also be hosting a tambourine workshop at the Centro Galego on Tuesday evening.


I’ve shared one of their videos before (Agarrado de Vilar de Cabeiras), as we’re also singing that song, so here’s a different one, of a song we’re not singing (yet):

Keep moving …

December 20, 2018

Ooops, update to the update, the James Street Tavern has closed and reopened under new management now, so don’t believe any events diaries that may still advertise sessions there. We still don’t know whether it will welcome sessions in the future. Lack of reply to messages suggests maybe not.

Meanwhile, we had our first Galician session at the Port Mahon yesterday, following on the heels of the French and Scandi sessions there, also exiled from the James Street Tavern. The space is lovely for playing and dancing. Only trouble is that it reflects and amplifies the sound very efficiently, so with two bagpipers playing a nice duet yesterday, we quickly reached the pain threshold of the bar staff and some customers …

Another caveat is that we still don’t have confirmation that we will be able to have sessions there in the new year. Watch this space.

The good news though is that with the move out of the JST, the three “continental” sessions appear to have acquired a few dedicated dancers who use the sessions for a miniature folk bal, aka bal minuscule. That website include videos from all three sessions we had this month, but for some reason the Galician one doesn’t show up on Firefox right now, so I’ll put it here as well:


Oh, and the January session is likely to be a week early again. This is because Xabier Diaz and the Adufeiras de Salitre are going to play at the Rich Mix in London on Wed 30th of January, and as we have pinched several songs from them (including Agarrado de Vilar de Cabeiras), it’s only fair we send a delegation to support the artists. I also hear there may be a workshop happening the day before the concert, details to be confirmed. So please keep the Wednesday 23rd of January free for the Galician session.






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 …

PS: Here’s Heart covering Stairway to heaven with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin in the audience. How scary is that …