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05 - Beira finezko danborra

(A Drum Made of Cut Glass) - 4´03

(Music: traditional from Murcia)
(Words: Xabi Paya)
(Arranged and produced by Joxan Goikoetxea)

[Eng] [Eus] [Es] [Fr] [It] [Cat]

Recording engineer:
Joxan Goikoetxea
Recorded at Aztarna Studio (Hernani, Gipuzkoa) throughout 2017

Mixing and Digital Mastering:
Mikel F.Krutzaga – Musikart Studio (Amezketa - Gipuzkoa)

Eñaut Agirre: Vocals
Alan Griffin:
sopranino & alto recorders, alto crumhorn
Joxan Goikoetxea: accordion, harpsichord, bells
Juanjo Otxandorena: bouzouki
Peter Maund: riqq

The Basque oral tradition is famous for its accomplished bertsolaris, or verse-improvisers, but the practice also exists in several other cultures. One performer that particularly impressed us was Tío Juan Rita of Murcia, Spain, who is still improvising sharp funny verses at the age of 105!

The present music and verse form are taken from the traditional Murcian trovos, as we have heard him sing them. We've also borrowed the instrumental break between verses, which seems designed to allow the troveros to catch their breath and gather their thoughts, and is always the same.

The words, by Xabi Paya, are new. His salute to Donostia-San Sebastian is tart and ironic, but not entirely without affection. These verses satirising the pretentiousness and pretensions of the city are so densely packed with double meanings that practically every line would need a substantial gloss. Unfortunately, we must forgo such detailed explanation here

It was Joxan who put Xabi up to composing these verses. As a foreigner living within spitting distance of San Sebastian, I wouldn't dare comment on them.











Easo ederra jarri
ispiluan aurrez aurre;
guztia da apaingarri,
baina oro ez da urre.

Zeluloide zein Michelin,
izarren hautsa bizigai,
ez da Tokio ez Berlin,
ez duelako izan nahi.

Parrilla bete bixigu,
olagarro egosia...
paga lezaketen hiru
damatxoen anbrosia.

Ez omen dauka bizirik
erakusten ez duenak,
perla eta orrazirik
ez du falta pobreenak.

Ez baditu abuztuak
ez ditu nahi Donostiak
artifizio izoztuak
eta suzko izozkiak.

Pintxo gozo zein gaziak
zulatzen dituzten zotzak;
hainbeste ditu geziak
Done Bastianen bihotzak.

Bi ezker, hiru eskubi,
ez da Fuenteovejuna,
ez da, baina badirudi
Madriltxiki euskalduna.

Uhin harroen gandorra
harrotzen duen maskorra,
beira finezko danborra,
horra, Donostia, horra.

San Sebastian, looking wonderful,
Looks into its looking-glass,
All decked out in finery,
But not all that glitters is gold.

Film Festival and Michelin,
Stardust creates life,
Because it doesn't wish to be.

The grill is laden with sea-bream,
And there's boiled octopus...
If they can afford it,
It's divine nectar for little ladies.

If you don't flaunt it
You're not alive,
And even the poorest here
Lack not for pearls and combs.

If there weren't an August
San Sebastian wouldn't yearn for
Either iced fireworks
Or fiery ice-cream.

As the toothpicks that pierce
The sweet and spicy tapas,
So many are the arrows
That pierce San Sebastian's heart.

Two to the left, three to the right,
But not all for one,
Nor is it, though it seems to be,
A little Basque-speaking Madrid.

The proud crest of the wave,
The shell that makes them proud,
A drum made of cut glass,
Here you have San Sebastian.

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While I was working on Sin adios (Adiorik gabe), one of the projects that formed part of Donostia-San Sebastian 2016, European Capital of Culture, I had the opportunity to learn something about the culture of Murcia, Spain, and its tradition of Trovos. I was captivated by this tune, which is one of the most popular used by the troveros, and wanted to try it out with lyrics in Basque.

Like other recently found treasures that we blow the dust off, I realised straight away that the tune lent itself to medieval-style arrangement and ornamentation. Juanjo and Peter did the rest.

My friend Eñaut Agirre, a bertsolari (verse-improviser) from Hernani, has a slightly hoarse voice that harks back to bertsolaris of old like Txirrita and Pello Errota, which seemed a natural fit for the Trovos style.

Another nod to the Murcian tradition is the use of handbells, which are especially associated with the singing of Christmas carols. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Vera family and to dedicate this song to them. Eskerrik asko, Marilo eta Alex.


The title of the song refers to a glass drum that Xabi Paya saw during a visit to the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Miami, which apparently was his source of inspiration that spurred him to compose these verses that I commissioned from him.

Decoy (2013, Glass & Metal) by Cornelia Parker.


All resemblance to reality is pure coincidence.


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