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I have been blessed for the past weeks to have a student from Spain working and learning in my big cold workshop. I love working with people who want to learn and already have good skills.

Ana mentioned one day as I dropped a long 2×2 inch stick end first on to the concrete floor, that they have a musical instrument in the Basque region of Spain that made a sound just like the dropped stick. It is called the txalaparta; it consists of at least 2 planks place supported on trestles and is played by 2 people with 2 sticks each.

Having watched a lot of these videos I am impressed by the range of rhythm and sound that a couple of sticks of wood can produce. I once made a pair of clap sticks from yew and because they were shaped asymmetrically and had knots in I could get all sorts of different notes from them, depending on how and where I hit them.

From what I have managed to make out so far, the txalaparta developed from cider making. Apples were mashed in large wooden troughs with long sticks before being put into the apple press. I am sure that when mashing the mashers would sometimes bang their sticks in time with each other. As we all know work, and repetitive work is over quicker if we sing or beat out a rhythm together.

You tube video in Basque but well worth watching, sorry embedding has been disabled on youtube

To find out more have a look at the wikipedia entry on txalaparta.

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