To play the alboka air has to be blown out non-stop, similar to the bagpipes or xirolarru. However the alboka has no bag to store up air, instead using a system of turning the air around, that is, taking air in and blowing air out at the same time. To learn this technique a straw or slender cane is placed in a glass of water. The idea is to blow into one end of the straw, continuously creating bubbles in the water. Another exercise consists in covering the small horn with a "txapela" or Basque beret and blowing air into the horn forcing it through the txapela filter.
Playing the Alboka
requires circular breathing to sustain a tune
similar to a bagpipe. Whereas the bagpiper
blows air into a bag then presses the bag to
make the tune, the alboka player has to turn
his/her mouth into that bag.
The name of the instrument appears to be derived from the Arabic "al-bûq" (البوق) (literally "the trumpet" or "the horn"). The instrument was originally native to Asia and may have been brought into Iberia by the Arab conquest. It was evidently already established in Spain by the time of the 13th-century "Poema de Alexandre," in which it is mentioned by name, and there are apparent representations of the instrument in surviving medieval sculptural church decorations.
was an instrument that was once widely played
but that in recent years began to disappear
until a recent re-emergence of interest.
In many instances it was being replaced by the
diatonic accordion. The repertoire
of fandangos, jotas, arin-arin
porrue and marches. This instrument is associated with the tambourine and
verses. The tambourine helps to mark the rhythm in dances, and most of
the tunes have a special part for verse singing.