Music of Catalonia


Catalonia (in Spain and France) has one of the oldest documented musical traditions in Europe, and has had a rich musical culture continuously for at least two thousand years.


Records from Roman times indicate that the city of Barcelona had an active musical life. Dances, masquerades and other musical performances were popular: apparently too much so, for they were specifically condemned by the Christian saint Paciano in the 4th century.

In the middle ages, Barcelona and the surrounding area was relatively prosperous, and music and art both were cultivated actively. Catalonia and adjacent areas were the home of the troubadors, the itinerant composer-musicians whose influence and aesthetic was decisive on the formation of late medieval secular music, and who traveled into Italy and northern France after the destruction of their culture by the Albigensian Crusade in the early 13th century.

Renaissance polyphony flourished in Catalonia, though the composers there never attained the fame of either the Spanish composers to the south and west or the French composers to the north. Juan Pujol wrote four books of polyphonic massesand motets for the patron saint of Barcelona, St. George.

Folk and popular music

Sardanes are popular dances, being especially widespread. There are two main types, the original sardana curta (short sardana) style and more modern sardana llarga (large sardana), which is more popular. Sardanas are danced in a circle dance. Other more strange sardanes are sardana de lluïment and sardana revessa.

The sarnada's music (música de cobla, in Catalan) that include the genuine instruments flabiol, and tamborí, tenora, tible and other used in more in more regions, is frequently played orchestrally without the dance.

Other popular music are the ball the bastons, galops, ball de gitanes and the music of gralla and tamborí used in cercaviles or by colles diableres.

In areas around the river Ebro, the jota is a popular dance.

Habaneres are very popular at parties since the end of the 19th century when Catalan people returned from the War of the Cuban Independence. For this reason, habaneres are popularly related to sailors.

In the last half century is known the rumba catalana genre has spread in Catalonia, played mostly by Gypsies, including popular performers like Peret and Gato Perez.






  • (cordofoni)

  • (aerofoni) flabiol - gralla - tenora, tible

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni) tamborí

  • (idiofoni)

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