In the small, sleepy, Alaves village of Otazu you can occasionally hear the curiously mournful sound of the Alboka. The Alboka is a uniquely Basque instrument which sounds a little like a sharper version of the Scottish pipes.
In the shade of some chestnut trees you can find Osses’s Alboka workshop. Osses has dedicated the last twenty years to researching and making Albokas. He now gives classes and is without doubt responsible for the revival of interest in this instrument.
The Group “No Hay Prisa” (There’s no hurry) comprising Trikitixa (Squeeze box) Bodhran and five Albokaris
Osses’s work shop is immaculately tidy. The home of a craftsman and artist. He built it with the help of friends and neighbours. It’s one of those places where the good vibes of many a jam session seem to have infused the very walls.
The name Alboka comes from Arabic “al-bûq” (البوق) meaning simply, the trumpet. The instrument certainly dates from the twelfth century when the Iberian Peninsula was under Arab rule. Today similar instruments can be found in Tulun in Turkey and Chivoni in South Georgia.
The Alboka comprises a cows horn connected to twin pipes made of “granedillo” or “cocbolo” both extremely hard woods, harder even than ebony.
The handle is made of “yugo”
The twin pipes connect to the mouth piece which houses two aluminium tubes. These tubes are fitted with reeds prepared from a standard Clarinet reed.