The Mallorcan xeremia (plural xeremies ) is a musical instrument from the family of bagpipes.

The xeremia consists of a bag made of leather or other material (now made ​​of modern synthetics ), called the sac ( "bag" ) or Sarró ( "bubble "). In the air is collected. It has three different openings: one at the Bufador ( " blowpipe " ), through which the exhaled air is blown, that fills the bag. A further when grall ( " chanter " ), the part which generates the melody notes. And finally one for the Bordons ( " drones "). Of which there are usually three: The first is called trompa or bordó, always at the root note, and the Fillols that can only be jewelry and even then not sound.

It has a distinctive, bright and penetrating sound that accompanies in Mallorca since ancient festivals and the turning points of life.

To play them, takes the xeremier ( the musician who plays the instrument ) the bag between the forearm and elbow, it pumped up with the help of bufadors and leaves by the Sarró suppressed, the air escape through the grall, with both the hands being played. From trompa comes the pedal note C3. In some Xeremías the drones sounding in G3 and C4.


The term xeremia or plural xeremies comes from the French. The Old French word chalemie developed into charemie. During the Aragonese - katalinschen rule Occitan had a strong influence, and the Occitan culture spread by minstrels and troubadours in the whole area of ​​the later Catalan countries from.

The name of the instrument can be used in the singular or plural depending on the site and has different forms. On the island of Ibiza, the xeremia exists exclusively without bag. See also: xeremia In the Balearic Islands are said xeremia, Xirimia, xeremies or Xirimíes, in Catalonia, however, Sac de gemecs.

Parts of the xeremia

The xeremías consist of the following parts:

  • The sac or Sarró ( "bag" or "bubble" ) is the memory of the grall that trompa and Bordone fed with air. The Sarró is held and pressed to let the air flow into the tubes which generate the different sounds between the forearm and elbow. The air flow must be constant and uniform. This process is the most difficult when you learn to play the instrument. Originally Sarró was made ​​from sheep 's or goat's leather, and synthetic materials currently used. To prepare it, you should take all the bellows of a small goat or a sheep of about 25 kg. It seals it by passing it turns, so that the skin comes inside, and cuts off, which is not useful. The front legs are the openings in which the brackets are attached to the Bufador (right) and the grall (left). At the neck opening comes the braguer, a wood piece that guides the air out of the bag for trompa and the Bordons. The Sarró is covered with a " Dress ", which according to the taste of the player in typical Majorcan linen or of a leather can be with external skin (usually goat).
  • The Bufador ( " blowpipe " ) is the part through which the air is blown into the sac or Sarró. It is made of wood and has at its lower end a valve so that no air escapes through him out of the bag.
  • The grall ( " chanter " ) is the part of the instrument that produces the melody. It is made ​​of wood and it has a conical shape with eight holes for the fingers of both hands. In grall the inxa or canyeta ( " reed "), which produces the sound is. It consists of two very thin tube sheets which are offset from the through-flowing air in vibration. It is made of tube that is cut in January on a full moon and you have to dry for at least two years. By opening or closing of the finger holes, the pitch changed. Seven of the holes are located on the front side, one at the rear. The fingers are held in the following locations: pinky, ring, middle and index fingers of the right hand cover the bottom openings. Ring, middle and index fingers of the left hand cover the remaining three holes and the thumb hole on the back. Through various finger combinations, the different pitches are produced.
  • The braguer is the part that connects the various drones with the bag and the Bordons guides the air to trompa and the. It is made from wood, its openings are so large that the air flow is sufficient to bring the Brumas ( " reeds ") of the drones to oscillate in diameter.
  • The Bordons have the task to create the lasting accompanying sounds " pedal tones " or "accompaniment bass ". They are built out of wood in gegenkonischer form and terminating in a pierced bell. The so-called traditional models of xeremies have only Schmuckbordune that do not sound. These are then called Fillols. The bruma produces the sounds of drones. It is manufactured from a tube sheet (now also of plastic ), which is vibrated by the flow of air to vibrate. By the Bordunrohr serves as a resonance chamber, the corresponding sound is produced. The pitch of the sound which is produced by the bruma, which forms the basis for the drone, depends on the length and the thickness of its tube sheet. All Brumas a xeremia must sound equally loud at the same air pressure. The final sound of the drone due to the different resonances and harmonics that occur when the air flows to the bell.
  • The trompa is the largest drone. It sounds in all instruments.
  • Grall and Bufador are secured by means of nous ( " nuts " ) of wood on the bag.

Usually the xeremies are decorated according to the taste of the owner, at least with a " dress " in typical Majorcan linen that covered the bag with tassels and cords in different colors. As jewelry, but also to the wooden parts to protect virolles be used. These are metal rings, usually brass but sometimes of silver or other precious metals, which are located at the ends of the drone and playing pipes. It can be engraved with suns, moons and stars, whose exact meaning is not known. However, it is believed that they are religious in origin.

For the wooden parts of a timber is used, that the sound carries well, that's easy to work with and resistant to moisture. The most common almond, cherry, passion fruit, boxwood and ebony are used, but more recently, bubinga and cocobolo wood. The grall is usually made of passion fruit or almond wood. ( After Majorcan custom beaten the woods in February. In trees with evergreen leaf to new moon, in trees with leaves changing to full moon).

Range and mood

In principle, the range of the melody pipe comprises about one octave from B3 to C5, which can be blown up to the G5 also by the pressure in the bag is increased. Since the overblown notes sound forced, it can hardly be used. There are hardly any marks used with sign, except occasionally B and F sharp, sometimes sharp.

Mostly the xeremia is in C or in C sharp. That is, the grall and trompa are in C3 or CIS3, a drone in G3 and Gis3 and the other in C4 and CIS4.

A few years ago xeremies were tuned in C sharp. This unusual mood owed ​​to confusion when they started to revive the instrument again. In the 20th century xeremia was, like many other traditional instruments almost disappeared. During the 1970er/1980er years there was a strong movement to win the Majorcan identity and the Mallorcan traditions. This development, to gain the culture of individual peoples again was observed in all of Europe.

One of the major achievements of this movement was the revival of xeremia that was practically extinct. There was barely a dozen instruments. Therefore, the old instruments were measured. The last instrument that came from a truly authentic instrument maker, came from a time in which the instruments were still in D. In terms of the modern mood in 440 Hz, seemed the old Majorcan xeremies in Des cis or stand.

The instruments in C sharp today are in addition to those who are tuned in C, and more frequently in the classroom and of groups ( estols ) will be using. Currently, there are efforts to revive the mood in D (a very clear sound when playing outdoors, but not very stable in the intonation ) to maintain the mood in C ( musically versatile ) or the mood in B ( euphonious and in intonation rather stable).


To the origins, see the article bagpipe

The first clear proof of bagpipes on the Iberian Peninsula are from the Middle Ages. It is known that the Arabs were familiar with the instrument and played. ( Some people think that they would have taken over by the Goths, others think that they are of Celtic origin ). The first written evidence dates from the 9th century in an apocryphal letter of St. Hieronymus, which states (!):

" The chorus is a simple leather hose with two pipes made of brass. The player blows into the one and the chorus is the sound produced by the second from. "

The influence of the court of Aragon and Catalonia to the Balearic Islands and the intense cultural connections between the areas north and south of the Pyrenees, connected with the Catalan domination in Occitania, which was an outstanding cultural center, brought the figures of the troubadours and minstrels forth. In 1209 came a large number of troubadours and minstrels, who had fled from Occitania from the repression to which they were exposed by northern French rulers, who by Pope Innocent III. were affected. The bagpipes can be found especially in the places where there were contacts with the Aragonese - Catalan yard.

When James I of Aragon conquered "el Conqueridor " Mallorca and Ibiza and settled there in his Catalan vassals, this brought their bagpipe, the saco de gemecs from which the xeremia mallorquina derived.

A document from the archives of the Crown of Aragon mentioned in 1343 a certain " Joan Mascum, bagpipes player of the King of Majorca ," in the context of King James III. , And it is known that the minstrels of the Majorcan king in 1353, together with bagpipes players from Tortosa from the court of Peter IV "el Ceremonioso " attracted. Next there is news about that meeting of the minstrels took place from all countries, especially during Lent.

There are reports that indicate the existence of instruments from the kind of bagpipes around the year 1119 in Barcelona and 1258 in Valencia, where it is reported that mitliefen in St. Dionyisios "procession, two horn players, two drummers and a bagpipe ". From 1335 onwards there are many written references to the bagpipe. Since that time it spread and became popular. Shepherds and beggars, they began to use, even if the form was still very simple.

During the reign of Alfonso V of Aragon ( = IV of Catalonia ), known as " el Magnanimous " spread the instrument, together with other cultural achievements, in the territories of the kingdom in the Mediterranean. In Naples there is evidence that there were musicians who played xalamias for 1420.

In the 19th century a number of changes put the instrument through which gradually made ​​it into the as we know it today. The development of other musical instruments displaced the bagpipe, as the range is not more than an octave was. Since it was difficult to modernize them, they remained a simple, little sophisticated instrument. While there was a decrease in the other Catalan regions, he was on the Balearic Islands due to its isolated location and the very peasant society not as pronounced, and the instrument was preserved in the local culture.

Television, which emerged in the mid-20th century and the popular culture influence, served in mediating the official, Franco's view of culture, which resulted in a limited view of the different cultures ( the gaita was considered galizianisch, as aragonesich dance, the flamenco Andalusian ... ). This made the perception of one's own culture. Even the special dynamics, with the other entertainment, such as cinema widespread, had a significant influence on many groups disappeared from xeremiers, which have become increasingly during the 20th century. Died in 1965 one of the last xeremiers, Francesc Pasqual, known as el Tonos.

The general custom to give the instrument at the death of the owner of one hand to the next, let the construction of the instrument to fall sharply. Also, the sale of the old xeremies as souvenir for tourists was a cause of the crisis that was going through the Mallorcan bagpipe ..

The xeremia, closely related to the sac de gemecs, received in the deep layers of the traditional culture of the Balearic Islands, and at the end of the 20th century, they learned their rescue and re- distribution, which was operated from some folklore and cultural groups.

A distinction is made in terms of the shape of the xeremia two periods. From the 12th to the 16th century there were instruments with or without trompa side by side. Since the 16th century the instrument took the form which it has today, with drones, which hang on the bag. The direct connection of the bagpipe with the sac de gemecs is still reflected in the only difference being that in the sac de gemecs all sound drones while xeremies two can only serve as ornaments in the.

The cobla

The xeremia was usually played in a group called Cobla de tres quartans ( "Three quarters Chapel "). This occupation is also commonly Ses xeremies ( " The Xeremien " ) called. Nowadays a reduced occupation is common to ( Majorcan also colla ) includes the media copla only the xeremia ( bagpipe ) and the flabiol (one-hand flute) with the tamboril ( hand drum ).

Depending on the composition coblas following are distinguished:

It consists of a bagpipe, a one-hand flute and hand drum. This occupation is very popular in the Balearic Islands and Catalonia. The xeremia and flabiol (plus tamboril ) sound together with the same volume and without an instrument, the other covers.

It consists of a bagpipe, a Tarota ( shawm ), a Flabiol and a Tamboret ( hand drum ) played by three musicians. Flabiol and tamboril are played by the same musician. Hence the name is " three-quarters ". It has a medieval origin and dates back to the groups of minstrels.

In the 18th century the coblas de Ministrils ( " Stadtpfeifer chapels " ) formed from hand flute, hand drum, shawm and bagpipe. They played a very important role in the various festivals and events that have been committed in the villages. The Cobla was musically well-coordinated. The drum was responsible for the rhythm and the long notes, the bagpipe played the melody and the harmonies. The hand flute doubling the melody and gave the tones brilliance, while the shawm approached the role of the second melody ( sounding an octave lower than xeremia and flabiol ).


According to the long history of the instrument is the repertoire of xeremia very rich, and increases even when it is considered in connection with the colla.

There are two clearly distinct periods. A first, in which the musical tradition was clear. Each duo of xeremiers used his own repertoire to include no new pieces. They prevented even that other duo could take over their own pieces, which meant that they did not collas played in front of others, to prevent someone could copy their songs. This period has meant that there are different musical styles between groups from different villages. In the second period the music was distributed and is the same learned.

There have been handed down from the period shortly after the conquest of the islands by the King of Aragon, as the danzas de los cossiers in Montuïri, Algaida, Manacor and Pollença, or Cavallets that are danced in Felanitx, Pollença and Arta. The same applies to the dances to Sant Joan Pelós (including Sant Joan Pelut ) of the Moratons, the Indis and the ball de Cintes, the latter being now virtually disappeared. Together with these pieces and others are played, for example jotas y Boleros, as Pasodobles, rumbas, waltzes, etc.


With the concept of xeremia there are a number of popular sayings. Some of them relate to the serenity of the instrument, others on its shape or its sound. There are, for example, the following phrases:

  • Content com Unes xeremies, " Cheerful as a bagpipe ."
  • Plorar com Unes xeremies, " wines, such as a bagpipe ."
  • Dits, dits, que no vent en falta " finger, finger, may you always have the wind ".
  • Riure - se'n of Sant i ses xeremies " laugh about the Saints and the bagpipe ."
  • Mes que inflat Unes xeremies, " Pompous as a bagpipe ."