the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe


Catalonia (north-east Spain)

with thanks to all those Catalonian Taborers (flabiol players) who allowed me to link to their published images
21st century
map of Catalonia
flabiol without keys flabiol with keys

The pipe (flabiol); the player is a flabiolaire.  Three keys were added at the end of the 19th century to improve the range of sounds: Josep Plans came up
with a fourth key in the 1950s.

The drum is 'tambori'.

"...The flabiol and the drum are possibly the most successful elementary formation in Catalan music.
Due to its extensive presence in time, without interruption since the 13th century"

flabiol group
  flabiol group
1265 player1265 - 1299 manuscript
13th century
12681268 Bible
13251325 manuscript f25r
13251325 manuscript 61r
14th century14th century Tarragona Cathedral
15th century15th century
manuscript 18v
1430-501430-50 manuscript 15v
unknown date misericordunknown date misericord Museum -
Sant Joan de les Abadesses,, Catalonia, Spain

"Flutet with holes distributed over the body of the instrument. The tabor is held by a rope tied around the animal's left wrist, allowing it to have its right hand free to play with the wand.”

16th century16th century church door panel
tile17th century tile

18th century tile18th century tile

19081908 sculpture, Palace of Catalan Music, Barcelona possibkly 17th century1952 cobla band    
21st century copy21st century copy of cobla band
giants' procession
giants processionGiants' procession, woodcut

Barcelona carnival1870 Barcelona carnival

end 19th centuryend 19th century giants processionGiants' procession, photograph
with Giantsflabiolaire Tomás Bosch 2015 giants procession2015 giants procession
SolsonaSolsona, Catalonia  

Àngel Vallverdú has written a dissertation on the giants, in Spanish.

'The flabiol and the troupe of giants of the city of Barcelona.
A paradoxical continuity.' It contains more illustrations.

1934 poster1934 poster poster2010 poster 3 players21st century players
  mixed gender groupmixed gender group woman playerwoman player 20082008
20102010 at Santa Lúcia Fair, Arboc 2000 Teresa Mitjans and Carles Mas from Catalunya
playing the Flabiol and Bombo,
with Rafel Mitjans playing the Flabiol and Tambori.
Broad Camden, England, at Taborers Society Symposium
June 8th 2000
c Phil Day


2013 flabiol festival2013 flabiol festival
20th century painting21st century painting by Pollux -Paul Morris children at school21st century children at school [14 schools teach the fabiol in the classroom]
20182018 Vilanova de Sau 20192019 procession group of playersgroup
2019Isabelle Garcia paradeparade playersTeresa Mitjans and Rafel Mitjans
Carles taboring for dancersCarles Mas playing for dancing

20222021 Castellbisbal Giants

female playerfemale player nightnight    
cobla (band)

The band now consists of 11 players of mainly brass instruments including one pipe and tabor player.
The latter plays a small drum of about 10 to 12 cm diameter, of wood or metal, and sits in the first row
on the extreme right of the band. [video here] The cobla plays for the national dance, the sardana.
The music always starts with a solo from the flabiol player.

1780 1780
1780 cobla band in Roissillon, which is now part of France
playerflabiolaire cobla drumtambori  band20th century cobla band
early 20th centuryearly 20th century cobla 1910-20 band1910-1920 player 1927 player1927 player
1925 player1925 player mid 20th century playermid 20th century player poster1937 poster  
1946 player1946 player 1949 player1949 player 1960 player1960 player 1970 player1970 player 1983 player1983 player 1985 cobla player1985 player
1988 player1988 player

Cathedral Square21st century, playing in
Cathedral Square Barcelona

21st century21st century flabiol and tambori

2006 player2006 player
2009 close-up2009 player
2010 band2010 cobla band
cobla at bull-fighting arena2012 cobla at bull-fighting arena 2016 cobla player2016 player 2019 2019
cobla band 20222022 1970's players1970's group of players
cobla statuescobla statues at L'Escala, Costa Brava

close-up of handclose-up of hand of flabiol player

21st century cobla21st century Tamborí and Flabiol   


stick dances
playing for stick danceplaying for stick dance stick danceplaying for stick dance  
stone carvings
Ulldecona 14211421 Parish church of Sant Lluc d’Ulldecona 16th century16th century Old Royal Hospital
Xativa, Valencia
  palace of King Martin, Barcelona  
14th century stone carving 14th century Tarragona Cathedral
bagpipe with pipe and tabor
This tradition was dying out in Catalonia by the early 20th century but was brought back from Majorca and is now thriving again.
18961896 flabiol and bagpipe 19241924 playing for dancers 1931 sketch with bagpipe1931
drawing with bagpipesflabiol with violin and with bagpipes 19451945 Valencia
playerlogo used by
Adifolk Folklore Association
21st century21st century 21st century21st century Steve Rowley and Gillian Guest,
members of the Taborers Society in Vilanova
string drum
2013 Catalonia, Spain2013 Catalonia, Spain

Catalan music

"All the riots of the old regime had been led by a musician, often a flabiolaire or bagpiper, as if it were the
procession of authority and dance. The musician had an obvious social and, at the same time, emotional power,
so the church condemned them and wanted to control them, because it needed them. That is why the popular
musician who played the bagpipe or the flabiol was considered dangerous and spokesman for the devil at the party,
of lust, of excess. In witch trials, the devil always plays the flabiol - or the bagpipe of the wild shepherds.....
Many times the same musicians who play instruments conducted by the chapel master inside the church are rented
under the name of cobla for street functions,



top of page