The cobla (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkobːlə], plural cobles) is a traditional music ensemble of Catalonia, Spain and in Northern Catalonia in France. It is generally used to accompany the Sardana, a traditional Catalan folk dance, danced in a circle.

CoblaBaixLlobregat 9079
"Cobla Baix Llobregat" playing in front of the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona


The modern Cobla normally consists of 11 players with the following instruments:

  • One flabiol, a type of fipple flute played with the left hand while a tamborí, a small drum attached to the left arm of the player, is played with the other hand.
  • Four Catalan shawms – double-reed woodwinds
    • Two tibles – a tible is like an oboe, but with a louder sound
    • Two tenores – a tenora is a larger version of the tible
  • Five brass instruments
  • A string bass – originally and still often a three-string double bass

There are small variations to this instrumentation in contemporary coblas: for example there is sometimes a third trumpet player.

The playing formation has two rows. The front row has (as seen by the audience from left to right) the flabiolist (with pipe and drum), the second and first tibles, and the first and second tenores. The back row, often raised, has the second and first trumpets, the trombone, and the first and second fiscorns. The double bass player, often standing, is on the right of the band.


Céret - Fête de la sardane - Cobla de Llobregat
Cobla Principal de Llobregat playing in Céret (2013)

Originally, the cobla was a 3-piece band:

  • One person played the flabiol and drum
  • The second person played the tible
  • The third played bagpipes

The main instrument in the cobla, the tenora, was developed around 1850 by French-Catalan luthier Andreu Toron, in Perpignan/Perpinyà.

The modern 11-piece cobla was developed by the Catalan musician Josep Maria "Pep" Ventura. He wrote over 200 Sardana compositions. There is a small street named after him in Barcelona, as well as a subway stop, presumably because of this achievement.

See also

External links

Ademar Jordan

Ademar Jordan (fl. 1198–1212) was a knight and troubadour from Saint-Antonin in the Rouergue. He was possibly a vassal of Raimon Jordan.

Ademar apparently participated in the war against the Albigensian Crusade, for he was captured by Simon de Montfort on 6 May 1212 and is not heard from again. On the occasion of his capture he composed a sirventes in imitation of Bertran de Born, Si tot m'ai estat lonjamenz. His only other extant song is Pons, viscoms, lezir e sojor, a cobla esparsa or cobla de circonstance.

Ademar may also have participated in one of the Crusades (possibly the Fourth or the Reconquista).

Alba (poetry)

The alba (Old Occitan [ˈalba]; "sunrise") is a genre of Old Occitan lyric poetry. It describes the longing of lovers who, having passed a night together, must separate for fear of being discovered.

A common figure found in the alba is the guaita ("sentry" or "guard"), a friend who alerts the lovers when the hour has come to separate. The lovers often accuse the guaita of dozing, being inattentive or separating them too early. The lovers fear not just the lady's husband but also the lauzengiers, the jealous rival.

The following example, composed by an anonymous troubadour, describes the longing of a knight for his lady as they part company after a night of forbidden love. Though generally representative of the style, this particular verse uses an atypical strophic pattern.

Under the influence of the Occitan troubadours, the Minnesingers developed a similar genre, the Tagelied, in Germany, and in northern France the trouvères developed an equivalent aube genre. The alba itself was imported into the Galician-Portuguese trovadorismo movement, but only one example of it, by Nuno Fernandes Torneol, survives.

Canso (song)

The canso or canson or canzo (Old Occitan [kanˈsu]) was a song style used by the troubadours; it was, by far, the most common genre used, especially by early troubadours; only in the second half of the 13th century would its dominance be challenged by a growing number of poets writing coblas esparsas.

The canso became, in Old French, the grand chant and, in Italian, the canzone.

Catalan shawm

In music, a Catalan shawm is one of two varieties of shawm, an oboe-like woodwind musical instrument played in Catalonia in northeastern Spain.

Cobla esparsa

A cobla esparsa (Old Occitan [ˈkubla esˈpaɾsa] literally meaning "scattered stanza") in Old Occitan is the name used for a single-stanza poem in troubadour poetry. They constitute about 15% of the troubadour output, and they are the dominant form among late (after 1220) authors like Bertran Carbonel and Guillem de l'Olivier. The term cobla triada is used by modern scholars to indicate a cobla taken from a longer poem and let stand on its own, but its original medieval meaning was a cobla esparsa taken from a larger collection of such poems, since coblas esparsas were usually presented in large groupings.

Sometimes, two authors would write a cobla esparsa each, in a cobla exchange; this corresponds, in a shorter form, to the earlier tenso or partimen. Whether such exchanges should be regarded as a "genre" unto themselves, as a type of short tenso, or as coblas esparsas, one of which happens to be written in response to the other, is debated. The Cançoneret de Ripoll distinguishes between the cobles d'acuyndamens, which bonds of vassallage, love, or fidelity, and cobles de qüestions, which posed dilemmas. The acuyndamentum was a special bond of vassallage-fidelity in medieval Catalonia.

Companyia Elèctrica Dharma

Companyia Elèctrica Dharma is a Catalan band. Many of its members are brothers, from the district of Sants, in the city of Barcelona. They have performed in Europe, North and South America and Africa.

At music festivals including "Rock in Rio", Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) "Memphis In May" Memphis (USA) "Festival of Essakane" (Mali) "Awesome Africa Festival" and Durbane (South Africa). Their albums are distributed worldwide. The band's music is a fusion of Cobla, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Progressive music, and Symphonic rock.


A fiscorn (Catalan pronunciation: [fisˈkɔɾn]) is a musical instrument. It is in the brass family, a bass flugelhorn in the key of C.


The flabiol (Catalan pronunciation: [fləβiˈɔl]) is a Catalan woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes. It is one of the 12 instruments of the cobla. The flabiol measures about 25 centimeters in length and has five or six holes on its front face and three underneath.

Joan Lamote de Grignon

Joan Lamote de Grignon i Bocquet (Catalan pronunciation: [ʒuˈan ləˈmɔd də ɡɾiˈɲɔn]; 7 July 1872 – 11 March 1949), was a Spanish pianist, composer and orchestra director.

José María Ventura Casas

José María Ventura Casas (Catalan: Josep Maria Ventura i Casas, Alcalá la Real (Jaén), 1817 – Figueres (Catalonia), 1875), popularly known by Catalans as Pep Ventura, was a Spanish musician and composer who consolidated the long sardana and reformed the cobla, adding instruments to give it its current formation.

He is considered the father of the modern Sardana by the profound transformation that he printed to these compositions, based on giving it greater musical extension, in the inclusion of new instruments, especially the tenora (instrument creation of Andreu Turon) from 1849 and its arrangement in the cobla, which will imitate another musical formations of this type. His performance before the Queen Isabella II of Spain in the Monastery of Montserrat together with other artists of the Renaixença consecrated him as a figure in the Catalan cultural world.

Nino Visconti

Ugolino Visconti (died 1298), better known as Nino, was the Giudice of Gallura from 1275 or 1276 to his death. He was a son of Giovanni Visconti and nephew of Ugolino della Gherardesca. He was the first husband of Beatrice, daughter of Obizzo II d'Este. His symbol was a cock.

Nino succeeded his father in Gallura in 1275 or 1276 and spent most of his life alternating time in Pisa and Gallura. His chaplain, a friar named Gomita, was caught taking bribes to release prisoners and so Nino had him hanged. Gomita was placed in the eighth circle of Hell in the Inferno and Nino was commended for the act of justice and piety.

In 1288, he began to share power with his uncle in Pisa, but the two quarreled. The elder Ugolino tried to enlist the archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini to expel Nino from the city, but the archbishop instead exiled them both and appointed his own podestà and capitano del popolo. Then a Pisan army was sent to take control of Nino's giudicato. The betrayed giudice never set foot in his giudicato again.

Nino's daughter Joanna succeeded to the title of Gallura and married Rizzardo IV da Camino, Count of Ceneda and Lord of Treviso.

Nino was an important patron of literary culture. Dante Alighieri was a friend, and, in the eighth canto of his Purgatorio, to his mild surprise, meets Nino in the region of Purgatory outside St. Peter's gate, where the souls of those who neglected their spiritual welfare for the sake of their country are detained for a period equal to their earthly lifetimes before beginning their purgation. His widow remarried with Galeazzo de’ Visconti of Milan into the Milanese branch of the Visconti. Complaining his widow does not love him anymore, Nino asks Dante to remind Giovanna, his daughter, to pray for him. Nino then continues to berate the Milanese and his widow.

Nino was also an acquaintance of several troubadours and at least two Occitan works are addressed to him. The two are anonymous coblas that appear towards the end of an Italian chansonnier of 1310. One cobla, Mand qe iur e non periur was addressed al iuge de Galur, that is, Nino, and has sometimes been ascribed to Paolo Lanfranchi da Pistoia. The cobla which appears immediately after it in the chansonnier is also addressed to Nino, but has not been assigned by any scholar to Paolo. Terramagnino da Pisa, a native of Pisa's peninsular territories, was frequently present in Gallura, where he probably spent most of his adult life. His Doctrina de Cort was addressed to Nino, at whose court it may have been written. Another Occitan poet with whom Nino had contact was Luchetto Gattilusio, who acquired interests in property in Sardinia and appeared in several documents pertaining to Nino's rule.


The partimen (Occitan: [paɾtiˈmen, paʀtiˈme]; Catalan: partiment [pəɾtiˈmen]; also known as partia or joc partit) or in French jeu parti (plural jeux partis) is a genre of Occitan and Old French lyric poetry composed between two troubadours, a subgenre of the tenso or cobla exchange in which one poet presents a dilemma in the form of a question and the two debate the answer, each taking up a different side. It was especially popular in poetic contests. See also Torneyamen.

The following is plagiarized verbatim from Hendrik van der Werf's entry, "Jeu-parti," in Grove Music Online. No citation to the author is given.

A debate or dialogue in the form of a poem. According to Guilhem Molinier, the author of Las leys d'amors, a 13th-century treatise on how to write poetry in the style of the troubadours, there is a clear difference between a partimen and a tenso: in a partimen the first speaker presents a problem with two possible solutions, leaving his opponent the choice of which solution to defend while taking it upon himself to defend the opposite side; thus, the participants each defend a theory not out of conviction but for the sake of discussion. The theorist admitted that the two terms were often used the wrong way.

Not only did the troubadours and trouvères not use the two terms as described, they also did not distinguish between the two genres. It is thus better to examine jeux-partis as they are grouped together in those troubadour and trouvère sources that present the poems by genre. A jeu-parti is a debate or discussion, usually between two authors who contribute alternate strophes. In some poems the debate is as described in Las leys d'amors. In others the discussion is in a question and answer form, or the first speaker presents his own opinion, immediately challenging his opponent to take a different point of view.

Jeux-partis deal with a variety of topics, but that of love, especially courtly love, occurs frequently. In most debates the opponents are addressed by name, many being well-known troubadours or trouvères; in other instances the poet introduces two apparently imaginary debaters, or initiates a debate between himself and an imaginary opponent. Each opponent usually contributes three stanzas and an envoi in which he appeals to someone to be his judge; in some poems the two participants appeal to the same person, but more often than not each participant chooses his own judge.

Some 200 Old French jeux-partis survive, about half of them with music. Their musical style is indistinguishable from that of trouvère songs in general; and since all of them are strophic, the music does not reflect the form of the debate.


The sardana (Catalan pronunciation: [səɾˈðanə]; plural sardanes) is a musical genre typical of Catalan culture and danced in circle following a set of steps. The dance was originally from the Empordà region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia from late 19th century to beginning of the 20th century after the modernisation done by Josep Maria Ventura i Casas.Men and women join together in a circle by holding hands and facing inwards to dance either the historical sardana curta (with an approximate duration of 5 minutes) or the present-day sardana llarga (with a duration of approximately 12-13 minutes). Other more unusual sardanes are the sardana de lluïment and the sardana revessa.The steps are meticulously counted as two- or three-step movements taken sideways within the circle. The direction of the steps is alternated. The hands stay on the hip or shoulder level depending on the step structure. The pattern of the choreography has jumping intervals changing with the music. Usually there is more than one circle with varying tempo and levels of dance knowledge.The participants are called sardinistes. Professional dancers organise themselves in colles sardinistes, colla meaning group or club. All colles are united under the Confederació Sardinista de Catalunya.Sardana is mainly danced during festivities and on weekends. Sardanas danced during a festival are termed aplecs. Brief public dances are known as ballades. The accompanying orchestra of 11 people, a cobla, includes 10 wind instruments and a bass. One person plays the flabiol (a flute) and the tamborí (a small hand drum). Since the 1980s female musicians are also allowed in the coblas.This dance stands out from others because it allows people to join a public dance circle at any time, for anyone of any age and background who is familiar with the sardana can drop their coat and bag in the centre of the circle and join in. It is emphasised by sardinistes as the specialty of Sardana.


The tambori (Catalan: tamborí [təmbuˈɾi]) is a percussion instrument of about 10 centimetres diameter, a small shallow cylinder formed of metal or wood with a drumhead of skin. Its usual function is to accompany the playing of the flabiol in a cobla band, beating the rhythm of the sardana, the traditional dance of Catalonia.

It is attached to the elbow of the left arm and struck with a little drumstick called a broqueta held by the right hand, while the flabiol can be played at the same time with the left hand.


A tenso (Old Occitan [tenˈsu, teⁿˈsu]) is a style of troubadour song. It takes the form of a debate in which each voice defends a position; common topics relate to love or ethics. Usually, the tenso is written by two different poets, but several examples exist in which one of the parties is imaginary, including God (Peire de Vic), the poet's horse (Gui de Cavalhon) or his cloak (Bertran Carbonel).

Closely related, and sometimes overlapping, genres include:

the partimen, in which more than two voices discuss a subject

the cobla esparsa or cobla exchange, a tenso of two stanzas only

the contenson, where the matter is eventually judged by a third party.

Tornada (Occitan literary term)

In Old Occitan literature, a tornada (Occitan: [tuɾˈnaðɔ, tuʀˈnadɔ], Catalan: [tuɾˈnaðə, toɾˈnaða]; "turned, twisted") refers to a final, shorter stanza (or cobla) that appears in lyric poetry and serves a variety of purposes within several poetic forms. The word tornada derives from the Old Occitan in which it is the feminine form of tornat, a past participle of the verb tornar ("to turn, return"). It is derived from the Latin verb tornare ("to turn in a lathe, round off").Originating in the Provence region of present-day France, Occitan literature spread through the tradition of the troubadours in the High Middle Ages. The tornada became a hallmark of the language's lyric poetry tradition which emerged c. 1000 in a region called Occitania that now comprises parts of modern-day France, Italy and Catalonia (northeastern Spain). Under the influence of the troubadours, related movements sprang up throughout medieval Europe: the Minnesang in Germany, trovadorismo in Galicia (northeastern Spain) and Portugal, and that of the trouvères in northern France. Because of this, the concept embodied in the tornada has been found in other Romance language literatures that can directly trace several of their techniques from the Occitan lyric tradition. The tornada appears in Old French literature as the envoi, in Galician-Portuguese literature as the finda, and in Italian literature as the congedo and commiato. The tornada has been used and developed by poets in the Renaissance such as Petrarch (1304–1374) and Dante Alighieri (c.1265–1321), and it continues to be invoked in the poetic forms that originated with the Occitan lyrical tradition that have survived into modernity.

By c. 1170 the Occitan lyric tradition had become a set of generic concepts developed by troubadours, poets who composed and performed their poetry; the majority of their poems can be categorised as cansos (love songs), sirventes (satires), and the cobla (individual stanzas). Since they are composed of a variable number of lines, an individual tornada can also be known as by more general poetic labels that apply to stanza length, according to where it is used; the tornada of a sestina, comprising three lines, is also known as a tercet. The tornada can also be modified by the poetic form it is found in; in the sestina (a poetic form that is derived from the troubadour tradition), the tornada should contain all of the six so-called "rhyme-words" that are repeated throughout the form (usually taking the pattern 2–5, 4–3, 6–1; the first rhyme-word of each pair can occur anywhere in the line, while the second iteration must end the line). However, as the form developed, the end-word order of the tornada ceased to be strictly enforced.

Tornadas can serve a number of purposes within poems; they often contain useful information about the poem's composition—often able to identify the location and date of the poem's composition, and the identity of members of the troubadour's circle—and several tornadas serve as dedications to a friend or patron of the poet. An additional purpose of the tornada is to focus and reflect on the theme of the poem, commenting on the surrounding material within the poem, and to act as a concluding stanza for the poem. However, the device can sometimes be used to create new narrative material. For instance, in Marcabru's pastorela “L’autrier jost’una sebissa” (trans. "The other day along a hedgerow"), the narrator is attracted to a shepherdess for her feisty wit and professes that "country-men want country-women / in places where all wisdom's lacking." The shepherdess' reply in the tornada: "and some will gawk before a painting / while others wait to see real manna." serves to "[create] some tension with the enigma she seems to introduce suddenly at the end."In the original Occitan model, the tornada was a stanza that metrically replicated the second half (sirima) of the preceding strophe (a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying length). Since the poems of the troubadours were very often accompanied by music, the music of the tornada would have indicated the end of the poem to an audience. Comparatively, the Sicilian tornada was larger, forming the entire last strophe of the song or ballad being performed (canzone), and varied little in terms of its theme—typically a personification of the poem, with a request for it to deliver instructions from the poet. The Dolce Stil Novo, a thirteenth-century literary movement in Italian Renaissance poetry, deployed the stanza form in their ballata and sonnets. The movement's principal figures—Dante and Cavalcanti—extended the use of the tornada throughout an entire poem, as opposed to being used as a concluding stanza. In his poem "Sonetto, se Meuccio t’è mostrato", Dante personifies the poem as a "little messenger boy":

As the form developed, the purpose of the tornada evolved from a purely stylistic device to include emotional aspects; Levin summarises that "[the tornada] developed in the Italian lyric from a simple concluding formula to a sophisticated projection of the poet's message through the medium of a human character." Whereas tornadas had primarily been an extension of the poet's voice, the innovation of the Dolce Stil Novo movement was to provide them with an autonomous human voice, often in the form of a unique character.

Trobar leu

The trobar leu (Occitan pronunciation: [tɾuˈβa ˈlɛw]), or light style of poetry, was the most popular style used by the troubadours. Its accessibility gave it a wide audience.

Xavier Pagès i Corella

Xavier Pagès i Corella (born 28 July 1971 in Sant Pere de Ribes) is a Catalan-Spanish composer and conductor.

He studied at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu and the ca:Conservatori Superior Municipal de Música de Barcelona, where he graduated in piano with Margarita Serrat and Montserrat Almirall, composition with Salvador Pueyo and conducting with Albert Argudo. In 1994 he won the ca:Concurs Josep Mirabent i Magrans for young musicians, with which he studied conducting and composition with Diego Masson, László Heltay and Lou Harrison at the Dartington International Summer School. In 2000 he was admitted in the Konservatorium Wien, where he studied conducting with Reinhard Schwarz and Georg Mark.

As a composer he won the Oare String Orchestra International Music for Strings Composing Competition (United Kingdom, 2004) with the work Path of Seconds for string orchestra and the 17th Ciutat de Tarragona International Award for Musical Composition (Spain, 2010) with the work Echoes for piano and orchestra. As a conductor he has been invited to conduct orchestras such as the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada (Spain), Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes (Mexico), the Orquesta Filarmónica de Mendoza (Argentina), and the Orchestre de Catalogne (France). Between 2004 and 2009 he was conductor of the ca:Cobla Sant Jordi - Ciutat de Barcelona, with which he had recorded for radio stations such as ca:Catalunya Música and the Radio Nacional de España, and labels such as Harmonia Mundi. In 2005 he was selected as assistant conductor of ca:Salvador Mas i Conde and ca:Manel Valdivieso in the ca:Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya. In 2007 he records part of the soundtrack of Sa majesté Minor by Jean-Jacques Annaud, with music by the Academy Award-nominated composer, Javier Navarrete.


The xeremia (Catalan pronunciation: [ʃəɾəˈmi.ə], plural xeremies) is a type of bagpipe native to the island of Majorca (Mallorca). It consists of a bag made of skin (or modern synthetic materials), known as a sac or sarró which retains the air, a blowpipe (bufador), a melody pipe or chanter (grall), and several, generally three, drones (bordons). The primary drone (roncó) sounds a tonic note, but the other drones are sometimes simply false drones for ornamentation.The xeremia has a distinctively bright and piercing sound, which has traditionally accompanied festivals and other activities in the islands throughout history.

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