A Musical Journey Through Spain

by Jessica Kitt 

When I moved to Barcelona, my knowledge of Spanish music was as narrow as that of most expats travelling to Spain:  flamenco, castanets, and … flamenco? However, as my two-year journey throughout the country proved, there is a lot more to Spanish music than just flamenco. My first partial relief of ignorance came from a student I was teaching from the region of Asturias in the North of Spain. After about the first year of teaching British English classes in Spain, I developed a certain odd nostalgia for home and my Irish heritage.

Coming from quite a traditional background, with a family of musicians and Irish dancers, I was used to being surrounded by all things Irish. Frequently, I took to listening to my father and uncle’s traditional Irish band on my MP3 player before bed. One day, during a class with my Asturian student, I indulged in a discussion about Irish music and all the “exotic” instruments we had from uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) to bodhrans (hand held drums). During this discussion, my student informed me that the music of both Asturias and Galicia in the North is Spain was surprisingly similar to both Irish and Celtic music. I promptly downloaded some of this music and was shocked by how similar it was. 

Traditional Asturian drummers and pipers. Photo by austinevan via flickr ccl.

This similarity between Irish and Northern Spanish music was again proven to me when I travelled to the North of Spain to work on an organic farm for a month.

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Song for Phil Spector

by Judy D. Fox

While growing up, my parents traveled between Los Angeles and Nashville three and four times a year. Living in rented houses or apartments, the four of us kids weren’t allowed to have any toys or possessions that wouldn’t fit in the car. Our clothing and bedding would be tied up in sheets and placed in the back seat and trunk of our car. The oldest child, I would often climb up into the back window. There, I would listen to the hum of the engine, make up songs and watch the sky for UFO’s. These things helped take my mind away from the thoughts of emptiness.

notes on a wire

One Friday afternoon in late spring of ‘58 in Echo Park, California - at age seven - I was babysitting my younger brother and sister in my father’s sedan while my parents shopped. We were parked behind the Pioneer Market on Sunset Boulevard. As usual I sang songs to pass the time.

On the playground that school year I learned some clapping songs. (For example, a sailor went to sea, sea, sea, etc.) As I made up the lyrics, my mind was on the cute, blonde-haired boy who recently moved next door. Even though he hadn’t shown any interest in me, I had developed a big crush. So, as thoughts of him crept into my clapping rhythms, these words emerged:

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