Andalucia – a sense of space

I’ve always loved the process of playing an instrument in a particular place and feeling the space with the sound. I guess its one of the reasons myself and Caractacus in our guise as EIRA/Snow like playing in the churches and other sacred spaces in Wales and the borders. There’s a certain ‘feel’. I sometimes practice in slaughterhouse arches in Monmouth which provides a completely unique perspective (its a disused abattoir with vaulted ceilings).

I really enjoy is going somewhere (special) and feeling what the place and space give me back and then try to respond. One of my favourite places is Cueva del Hundidero in the Sierra de Luz. The space is enormous, 30m high by 10m wide and the cave system extends for 4km although this is a matter for potholers as it requires swimming through 25 subterranean lakes.

Playing Gaita Gallega in Cueva del Hundidero. Will Cass in the distance; photo by Buddug Cass

Whenever I visit I always take an instrument with me and I can still remember the first time I went and played the Douduk.

Gaita Gallega

Last time I was there I took my only traditional Spanish Instrument, my Gaita Gallega. Its interesting with the drone as it masks the reverb to some extent giving a different sense of space with the melody notes. I always enjoy its limitations as its a basically an octave and a half and only a few accidentals and constant volume so lacks dynamics. There is always a note so phrasing is a different concept from anything else I play. Glissando and vibrato and false fingerings are about the only modulating effects available. I just love its tone.


Here’s a different video taken a couple of years earlier playing the Tarogato. The single voice really accentuates the reverberation quality. The reedy timbre and bizarre tuning coupled with the rich harmonic content of the Tarogato seems to complement the bird song – well it does for me!

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