the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

Europe by country


with thanks to Gwilym for his research

The 3-holed pipe played in north-east part of Portugal, Miranda do Douro, is generally called the pastoral flute, (flauta pastoral, or ‘fraita’ in the Mirandes language). The tabor is a tamboril.  There is an unbroken tradition in N E Portugal. Located on the border with Spain and part of Spain for a while, it has been geographically isolated from the rest of Portugal; so traditional rural culture was preserved here for longer.  

The situations when the pipe and tabor can be seen today are firstly on religious occasions. There are specific tunes for going into mass, coming out of mass, processions for saints’ days and so on. Some villages have their own tunes which have persisted amongst folk musicians, despite official discouragement from the clerical authorities in the past.  Secondly, the music accompanies folk dancing. Thirdly, the music is played on social occasions, in bars and social gatherings. [source]

15th century Lisbon 16th century16th century manuscript
1517-15381517-38 April, from 'Book of Hours of Dom Manuel'
19001900 Manuol Einácio in the 20th century. 20th century player20th century Virgílio Augusto Cristal playing for dancing
20th century20th century 20th century20th century

1966 player1966 António Maria Cuco

With the border erased in the 1970’s as a result of the European Community, there now is much more coming and going between players in Spain and Portugal
Ângelo Arriba, 21st century
playing for folk dancing
2006 pipeand tabor workshop2006 workshop with teacher Santiago Bejar 2011 player2011 player


20142014 in a religious procession
band practise music workshop

The traditional musical line-up for most occasions follows a strict pattern of a trio consisting of either bagpipe or pipe and tabor, accompanied by a bass drum and a side drum. Since taborers did not play in groups together their pipes used to be in varied keys.  More recently the keys are being standardised

Some bands play traditional instruments at folk concerts .  player FrameFrame
tamboriltamboril GalandumGalandum's instruments

‘Portuguese entertainment music from the countryside,’
a movie by Michel Giacometti, produced in 1972:

This film shows different ways to relax together or to celebrate feasts. Musical instruments of the countryside accompany these events. ..... The pipe and tabor player, living along the border in Alentejo province, is also the musician for some feasts, as well as the band of the Beira province, called ‘Lavacoios,’ composed of men playing different kinds of drums and flutes. They perform in the streets in a procession.


Women occasionally play the pipe - Las Çaranda Cirigoça in 2014 women band

Sometimes the pipe is played with the string drum. alterpiece1515 alterpiece 'Adoration of the Shepherds' (detail)
string drumc. 1515 Lisbon, Portugal:
Assumption of the Virgin altarpiece
string drum    
"This work seeks to preserve, for future memory, two of the most expressive musical traditions of Miranda do Douro, through the life stories of the drummers and the Mirandese frita, a three-hole flute also known as pastoral flute: in Portuguese" book

report on a research trip by Judith Cohen

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