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A University Tuna is a musical group in Spain, Portugal, Central America or South America, made up of university students. It is also known as a Tuna or Tunas if it is in plural. A Tuno is a member of a University Tuna, or may also be called a Sopista, which is an ancient appellation of the tuno.



The origin of Tuna university music groups is underlined by the Goliards from the 10th to 13th century, and medieval troubadours and minstrels.[1] The name tuna comes from French roi de Thunes,[2] "king of Tunis", a title used by leaders of vagabonds.

In medieval poetry, from the 11th century, the Latin school songs created a special genre which characterized them. The students known as "Goliards" appeared all over Western Europe composing and interpreting songs, of which the subject matter did not fit in with the scale of values of the society of that time. The songs were typically devoted to wine and profane love, by defending the intellectual pre-eminence against the knights, using liturgical elements in an opposite sense to how they were normally employed.

From its origins to the present day, from and through of the Tunas have continued the cultivation of popular instruments such as the bandurria, lute, guitar and tambourine, instruments which are named in the Spanish book Libro del Buen Amor by Juan Ruiz (c. 1283 - c. 1350).[3]

For these occupations, they took their guitars and bandurrias and sang popular songs. The tunos or sopistas also showed abilities for music, and in courting ladies that they had been wooing to[4]. The sopistas were poor students that with their music, friendly personality and craftiness scoured the cheap eating-houses, convents, streets and squares for a dish of soup (in Spanish, sopa) from which they derived their name sopista, and for a few coins which help to finance their studies.[5]


The clothing of the Tuna is derived from that of Iberian students of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is called a grillo in Spanish (meaning "cricket") or "traje" in Portuguese (meaning "clothing", in a traditional sense) and consists of a cloak, doublet, beca, shirt, stockings, baggy trousers or gregüescos and shoes or boots.

  • The doublet is a tight-fitting jacket which is worn over a white shirt with big cuffs and collar, commonly finished at the corners.
  • The shirt is always white with a generous collar and
  • The pants are baggy trousers or gregüescos normally short and wide, fitted at the end of the leg.
  • The shoes and tights are garments which cover the foot and the legs to waist.
  • The beca is the band with a color identifying the university from which the wearer comes. It is worn on the breast and shoulder, over the doublet. The seal of the university is embroidered on the beca, which identifies the school, faculty or university of the Tuno. The Beca is a distinction received from the tuno's partners when they considered that the aspirant has reached a sufficient grade of experience.
  • One important garment of the tuno is the cloak which is long and loose, without sleeves, open in front and it is worn over the clothes. Over the cloak are displayed seals and shields of the cities and countries that the tuno collected from all over the world. Likewise multicolored ribbons and shreds are worn on the cloak in a sign of affection, expressing feelings or love. These can be presents from their sweethearts, mothers or friends.
Que cada cinta que adorna mi capa (Every ribbon that decorates my cloak)
Guarda un trocito de corazón. (saves a piece of heart.)
— "Tuna Compostelana", D. Martinez Pinto & M. Menéndez Vigo[6]

This applies to Spanish tunas. Portuguese tunas have more standard trajes: black trousers, jacket, cape and shoes, white shirt and black tie. Exceptions are the traje from the Universities of Algarve (blue instead of black and with a distinct hat, a nod to Henry the Navigator) and Minho (which is more like the Spanish tunas' clothing described above).

Musical instruments

As far as the music is concerned, there are two basic instruments. One is the guitar which comes with the tuno and his melody. The melody is created by voices and singing. Musical instruments like lute and bandurria are also used. (Portuguese tunas usually play instruments like mandolin instead of bandurria and lute). The other important instrument which characterized the student music was the tambourine.

Besides these basic instruments, the use of others instruments gives the tuno's music a very special richness. These elements were blended thanks to the different cultures and people where tunos perform. Among the distinguished instruments are the timple canario and charango. It uses, moreover, the Puerto Rican cuatro, accordion and double bass to increase the variety of sonority.

External links


Films and TUNA

Links of different Tunas in the world


  1. ^ "Historia de la Tuna" a tribute to the Tuna, Retrieved on 2007-06-23 (in Spanish)
  2. ^ Tuno in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  3. ^ "Libro del Buen Amor" Juan Ruiz (c. 1283 - c. 1350), Retrieved on 2007-06-23 (in spanish)
  4. ^ "Tuna" Tuna - Wikipedia in Spanish, Retrieved on 2007-06-23 (in spanish)
  5. ^ "Historia de la Tuna" Tuna History, Retrieved on 2007-06-23 (in Spanish)
  6. ^ "Tuna Compostelana" D. Martinez Pinto, M. Menéndez Vigo, Retrieved on 2007-06-23 (in spanish)


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