1st International Bagpipe Conference - Susana Moreno - Bagpipes Playing in Contemporary Portugal: Some Key Processes within a Vibrant Musical Practice Wed, 2013-03-27 20:53


Bagpipes Playing in Contemporary Portugal: Some Key Processes within a Vibrant Musical Practice

Susana Moreno Fern?ndez
University of Valladolid (Spain)

Bagpipes playing is documented in Portugal since the early XIX century (L?pez-Rodrigues 2010: 558). Some Spanish influence, mainly from the bordering region of Galicia, can be traced in local practices, and musical instruments, because of particular historical processes and phenomena like migration and cross-border dynamics. Throughout most of the XX century, one or two bagpipers and a variable number of drummers provided the entertainment for a number of feasts and celebrations in several rural areas of Northern and Central Portuguese regions, as well as in cities like the capital of the country. The ?Centro Galego de Lisboa? (Regional House of Galicia in Lisbon) promoted the playing of Galician traditional music, singing and dancing since 1908. But during the last decade, the vitality of this musical tradition went through an unprecedented increase, quickly disseminated over new rural and urban areas of the country while many young practitioners and followers gained a sense of belonging to the ?universe? of bagpiping traditions at a global scale (Moreno Fern?ndez: forthcoming).

Drawing on ethnomusicological research carried out in Portugal between 2007 and 2010 to study bagpipes playing in the Northeastern region of Tr?s-os-Montes as well as in the Metropolitan area of Lisbon, in this paper I will discuss several issues that provide a better understanding of the practice of this musical instrument in Portugal within the XXI century.

First, I will discuss the general context as well as some collective and individual actions that contributed to the revival (Ronstrom 1989 & 1996) of bagpiping in Portugal since the 1990s, inspired by ideals of ?musical cosmopolitanism? (as understood by Stokes 2007). I will specially concentrate on the
activities of the Portuguese Bagpipes Society, founded in Lisbon in 1999.

Second, I will explore the local repercussions of international musical and sociocultural movements like the celtic music revival (Stokes & Bohlman 2003), where bagpipes stands out as a prominent musical instrument.

Third, I will analyze some changes introduced in the musical formations, the instruments, the playing techniques, the repertoires and the performance practices to respond to the necessities, aspirations and wishes of contemporary musicians, instrument makers, and followers in Portugal, who participate in new national and transnational performance networks, asume their possition within the international bagpipes community and interact with practicioners from other countries in different ways.