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Performance featuring trikitixa with tambourine accompaniment

Trikitixa (pronounced IPA: [tɾi'kitiʃa]) or eskusoinu ("hand sound") is a two-row Basque diatonic button accordion with right-hand rows keyed a fifth apart and twelve unisonoric bass buttons. The onomatopoeia trikitixa, apparently stemming from the sound emitted by the tambourine, originally referred to a traditional Basque ensemble, made up of the instrument which now bears the name as well as alboka, txistu and other instruments.

Trikitixa's first written evidence is attested late in the XIXth century, exactly in 1889, when diatonic accordion was used for music in a popular pilgrimage festivity of Urkiola (Biscay). In 1890, a trikitixa appears in a picture taken in Altsasu (Navarre), a railway junction.[1] Therefore some point to the instrument's import to the Basque Country from Italy through the port of Bilbao, while other sources suggest that this kind of diatonic accordion was brought in by Italian or French railway workers from the Alps. The diatonic button accordion itself was devised in Vienna in 1829,[2] expanding thereafter all over Europe.

The pair of diatonic button accordion along with tambourine gradually grew in popularity and was adopted to perform in local and popular festivities, where the young danced to its tunes (fandangos, arin-arin etc.), despite the Catholic church's resistance, who dubbed it "hell's bellows" on the grounds that its dance-inciting and lively music would lead Basque youths into temptation.

That playing pattern remained unchanged up to the 80s, when Kepa Junkera and Joseba Tapia started to develop unprecedented ways of playing trikitixa. While both authors came in for much criticism for their novelties and experimenting, they caught on and both styles, traditional and modern trikitixa, have found their way and consolidated their separate paths. Both performers remain nowadays key figures of trikitixa accordion. There have been influences of Tejano artists like Flaco Jiménez and other international players. Other renown players include Maixa Lizarribar, Alaitz Telletxea, Iker Goenaga or the Catalan Carles Belda.

Currently traditional style ensembles consist of a pair playing trikitixa (diatonic button accordion), tambourine and voice. Players typically use a highly-ornamented and swift style, along with staccato triplets.


  1. ^ "What is trikitixa?". Euskal Herriko Trikitixa Elkartea. Retrieved 2008-02-27.  
  2. ^ "Trikitixa, soinu diatonikoa". Euskal Herriko Trikitixa Elkartea. Retrieved 2008-02-27.   Site in Basque


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