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The Asturian Hymn

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The official Anthem of Asturias, popularly elected in the 1890s, is a curious song. It’s unlike any “national” anthem I’ve ever heard. There’s nothing grand about it, and it seems more suited to a traditional dance than a national statement of identity. But, here, you be the judge:

Take away the bagpipes, and the tune sounds oddly familiar. Here’s the English language translation of the lyrics, courtesy Wikipedia:

Asturias, my beloved Fatherland,
My loved one Asturias,
Ah, lucky he who could be in Asturias
For all times!
I’ve got to climb up the tree
I’ve got to pick the flower
and give it to my brunette
so she may put it in her balcony
May she put it in her balcony
May she put it not
I’ve got to climb the tree
and the flower I’ve got to pick

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October 6, 2010 at 9:32 am Comment (1)

Fireworks for San Mateo

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Last night, Oviedo invited the pyrotechnic company to light up the Parque de Invierno with fireworks. The Valencian company also did the closing of the World Cup, and we are already well familiar with their incredible work from our time in Valencia.

San Mateo

It was a great night for fireworks, and the show didn’t disappoint. We found a spot on the side of a steep hill, and watched a display that seemed to go on forever. Something Valencians understand about fireworks, is that noise can be just as important as visuals, and the rhythmic, perfectly timed sounds were almost as impressive as the explosions themselves.

San Mateo is winding down! Today’s a holiday, and then it’s all over…

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September 21, 2010 at 11:19 am Comments (0)

The Gaita Asturiana

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Gaita Player

Until moving to Asturias, I shared the popular notion that bagpipes are from Scotland, and that the instrument’s presence necessarily indicates Scottish influence. That turns out to be completely wrong. Bagpipes have a long history in all Europe, from the Balkans to Scandinavia, and definitely in Northern Spain. There’s nothing uniquely Scottish about bagpipes; they weren’t even invented there.

Bagpipes are known in Spain as gaitas, and they’re the most popular traditional Asturian instrument. The Gaita Asturiana is different than other bagpipes, with just two pipes instead of four: the chanter, which is the melody pipe played by the fingers, and the drone, which rests on the shoulder. I impress you with my bagpipe knowledge, no?

Impromptu bagpipe concerts are a common occurrence in Oviedo, and we happened upon one during the first few days of our stay. The music was actually pleasant; usually, upon hearing the wheezy moans of a bagpipe, I clamp my ears and walk swiftly in the opposite direction, but this sound was tolerable. Almost enjoyable, in fact! Check out the video:

Want more bagpipe fun facts? I’m full of them:
*In German, the bagpipe is known as a dudelsack, pronounced “doodle-sack”. For real.
*The first evidence of the bagpipe in Asturias is a 13th century carving in a church in Villaciosa.
*The Scots used bagpipes to frighten off their enemies on the battlefield.

Well… alright, that’s all I got. Bagpipe knowledge exhausted.

Oviedo Tradition
Folklore Asturien
Banda De Gaitas
Gaitas Asturiana
Spanischer Dudelsack
Baile Asturiano
Oviedo Dude

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September 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm Comments (8)

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