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"Cobla Baix Llobregat" playing in front of the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona

The cobla (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkoblə]), plural cobles, is a traditional music ensemble of Catalonia, the north-eastern region of Spain and in Northern Catalonia in France. It is generally used to accompany the Sardana, a traditional Catalan folk dance, danced in a circle.

Contents

Structure

The modern Cobla normally consists of 11 players:

  • One person plays the flabiol, a three-holed flute (notable for being the only three-holed flute in the world with eight holes) with the left hand while playing a small drum called a tamborí with the other hand. The tamborí is attached to the left arm of the player.
  • Four Catalan shawms (double-reed woodwinds)
    • Two Tibles (a tible is like an oboe, but larger and louder)
    • Two Tenores (a tenora is a larger version of the tible)
  • Five Brass
  • One String Bass (An orchestral double bass; though originally a three-string bass.)

There are, of course, small variations on this instrumentation in contemporary coblas. There is sometimes a third trumpet player. As with a jazz Big band, the woodwinds generally sit in front with the brass and bass behind.

History

Originally, the cobla was a 3-piece band:

  • One person played the flabiol and drum
  • The second person played the tible
  • The third played bagpipes

The main instrument in the cobla, the Tenora, was developed around 1850 by French-Catalan luthier Andreu Toron, in Perpignan/Perpinyà. The modern 11-piece cobla was developed by the Catalan musician Josep Maria "Pep" Ventura (1817-1875). He wrote over 200 Sardana compositions. There is a small street named after him in Barcelona, as well as a subway stop, presumably because of this achievement.

How it is used

The cobla is normally used to accompany the Sardana

In Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, in the summer time, one can often see cobla performances in open outdoor squares, with dozens of Catalonians mixed with tourists dancing the sardana, their purses and backpacks placed on the ground within the circle. Despite its small size, the cobla is powerful enough for the sound to fill an outdoor square and be heard beyond! Unusually, and to the delight of woodwind players, the tenores and tibles are the loudest instruments in the band.

In recent years, the cobla has also played concerts where there is no dancing. This mirrors a trend in other forms of folk music, such as the Music of Ireland.

See also

External links

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