Cobla & Habaneras

What is the cobla?

Sardana dancing in front of the CoblaThe cobla is the band which provides the highly unusual music for the dancing of Sardanas and the building of Castells. It consists of eleven players, and is made up of woodwind and brass, together with double bass.

The shrill oboe-like tenora long ago replaced the bagpipe as the leading instrument. The music is lyrical, somewhat repetitive, and fun; sounding like an odd mix of Bavarian Um-pah-pah and Middle Eastern music. The most celebrated cobla band, and the official band of the Generalitat, is La Principal from la Bisbal, but there are cobla groups all over, like the fantastic Cobla de Amsterdam in Holland, who often stay at our rural farmhouse villas when here on tour...

What are habaneras?

Habaneras are the typical sailor songs that Catalan émigrés brought back from the Caribbean colonies. Named after the Cuban capital, these lovely sea shanties are sung in 4 or 5 part harmony, accompanied by guitar, accordion, and bass. Somewhat reminiscent of "napolitanas," habanearas are usually listened to while sipping piping-hot ron cremat. The concoction contains rum, sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans, and sometimes a cinnamon stick. It will be brought out in an earthenware bowl and you have to set it alight, stirring occasionally (with care not to spill and get burned) until it is ready to drink. The most famous festival of habaneras is held on the beach of Calella de Palafrugell on the first Saturday of July. This event, dripping with nostalgia, is televised (in Catalonia).