Gaida – Southern European bagpipes

A gaida is a bagpipe from Southeastern Europe. Southern European bagpipes known as gaida include: the Albanian: gajde, Aromanian: gaidã, Bulgarian: гайда (gayda), Greek: γκάιντα (gáida) or τσαμπούνα (tsaboúna), Macedonian: гајда (gajda), Serbo-Croatian: gajda/гајда, Turkish: gayda also tulum.

In the old notes of Suetonius, it is described that Emperor Nero played bagpipe called tibiae u tricu larice. In Ancient Rome, it was brought from Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks, however, had taken this instrument from the Hittites, ca. 1000 years BC.

Bagpipes are a kind of musical instrument such as aerophones, it uses reeds fed from a steady tank of air in a form of a bag one of its famous kind is the Bulgarian gaida. Bulgaria is one of those several places where the use of bagpipes never went down, the possible reason for this is probably since Bulgaria is a little isolated from the fast changing world during the 19th and 20th centuries. Gaida, or the Bulgarian bagpiper, has remained to be the national instrument in Bulgaria in the same way as Scotland’s great highland pipe, although both are common in their orchestral variety.


Although the gaida is considered to be Bulgaria’s national instrument, it is also used all over Europe. The instrument is composed of the subsequent parts:

  • The chanter or gaidunista is where the melody is played. It may be a conical bore such that of Bulgaria, or cylindrical bore of Macedonia and other regions. The most distinct facet of the gaida’s chanter which may be also present in other Eastern European bagpipes is the mumbler popularly known as the “flea hole” and also called as mrammorka which where the index finger of the left hand is covering. This mumbler is smaller compared with the others and most likely consisting a small metal tube or duck or chicken feather. The flea hole is commonly played to create musical ornamentation where the exceptional Balkan music came from. Various gaidas may have a double bored chanter, like that of the Serbian three-voiced gajde.
  • The drone or ruchilo (ruchilo, ison, prdaljka, prdak, brčalo) is responsible for providing a stable harmony note. It is a long pipe with no finger holes unlike the chanter. It is mostly long, with three-piece tube with a note, but much lower compared to that of a chanter.
  • The mouthpiece or duhalo is the blow pipe. It is a short wooden tapering in which the player blows to supply air in the bag. At the edge of this blow pipe is the leather check valve or return valve that is inside the bag. Through the blow pipe it allows the air inside the bag, but not back out.
  • Gaida’s bag, also known as meh, is usually made of sheep or goat hide. Hides are treated unlikely by different regions. The use of salt is considered to be the simplest way of treating it and the more difficult way is with the use of milk, flour, and of course the taking away of fur. In regions of Macedonia the hide is turned inside out so the fur will be on the inside of the bag.
Parts of the Gaida

Parts of the Gaida

Types of Gaidas in the Balkans include:

  • Kaba gaida – a large Bulgarian bagpipe of the Rhodope mountains which has a hexagonal and rounded drone. Often described as a deep-sounding gaida
  • Dzhura gaida – a bagpipe typically found in Bulgaria which has a straight conical drone. In contrast to the kaba gaida, this is a higher pitched instrument
  • Macedonian gaida – Played in the region of Macedonia, the bagpipe is structurally between a kaba and dzhura gaida and is described as a medium pitched gaida

Gaida’s tone possibilities are less great than those of the caval. There are two major classes that the players use in differing. Low or the caba and high or dhuza, diffused in the mountain regions are the former. Bulgaria is popular for the so-called Rhodopian gaida, which is used for the accompaniment of the fine lyrical Rhodopian gaidars. The most used gaida is with the main tone "sol" (dzhura). It is with a loud tone possibilities in comparison to the other kind of gaida.

 The caval which is mentioned earlier to be with of greater tune compared to gaida is one of the most diffused musical folk instruments used a lot by the Bulgarians from so long time ago still now. It is still in function in the whole Bulgaria and especially in Thrace and Dobrudja. The technical components of the all kinds of the kaval are literally alike. The only considered difference is the size of their pipes. There are some kavals with lengths of 50, 70, 75 and 80 centimeters. In consequence of it, the kavals are with different kind of highs. The kaval's volume of the tone is concerned with the tune.

"Vecherjay, Rado", performed by National Folklore Ensemble "Philip Kutev"

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