Here on the blog, every so often we enjoy bringing you Basque songs and groups that in we’ve some way found interesting.

We did so when we brought you the Basque origin of two of the most important traditional Christmas carols in Great Britain.  We also brought you the Basque origin of the Jewish song that is considered the “unofficial hymn” of Israel. We’ve written a lot about Kalakan, a Basque group that has fascinated us since long before Madonna discovered them in Getaria (Guéthary) (not to be confused with Getaria in Gipuzkoa) via two extraordinary Basque pianists, the Labèque Sisters, and took the group on a world tour.  We’ve taken you on video tours of different parts of our land with music and dance as the perfect “excuse”.  We’ve recalled how Basque music and dance had a place of honor at the Court of Versailles.  We’ve brought you the story of Basque music recorded in the USA being stored at the Library of Congress.  And we’ve joined Irishman Brendan Donnelly and Basque musician Beñat Fuentes on their project in China.  And that’s just a taste of some of the articles we’ve collected under the heading “music“.

One more of those articles was about the Basque symphonic metal group Diabulus in Musica, which we spoke about in 2014 when they launched their new album, Argia.

And we’re bringing them back today to talk about them and their soloist, Zuberoa Aznárez, who has surprised us with a fact we didn’t know about: her work in the world of traditional Basque music.  She did so with her cover, for voice and Celtic harp, of “Lo Hadi Aingürüa”, a lullaby from Soule that is simply marvelous.  And we use that word because we can’t think of anything better: you simply have to listen to it.

The group has also been working on the symphonic metal aspect, launching a new album this year, featuring “Otoi” as the first single.  It must be borne in mind that the label is Austrian, and their main market is outside the Basque Country.  But to give you an idea, in the just over eight months since they launched their single, it’s gotten over 80,000 plays on YouTube.

It was so interesting that not only did we decide to share the single with our readers, but we also asked the protagonist of today’s story, Zuberoa Aznárez, to tell us the story of the songs and her work.

By the way, as our header photo, we chose a photo of hers in a place that is full of history, the Salinas de Añana in Araba.

The YouTube video has lyrics in Basque, English, and Spanish

Zuberoa Aznárez

Zuberoa Arnaez en Añana
Zuberoa Arnaez in Añana

 

My name is Zuberoa Aznárez.  I’m a singer and historian, so I’ve always felt a special weakness for older music in general.  Unfortunately, many of the songs of popular tradition have disappeared, but many others have been preserved thanks to the musicological work of Father Donostia, from Azkue.  Those are some beautiful songs, and many of them are not well known, so a while back I decided to record my favorites, little by little, on my own.  If all goes well, I hope to publish them together on a CD sometime next year.  For now, I’ve just published a beautiful lullaby from Soule as an intimate version with just Celtic harp and voice.

Soule is a traditional Basque territory I feel special fondness for (and not just because of my name and my second surname, Mauleón: twists of fate).  Plus, my father’s family is from the Roncal area, specifically from Garde, and the history of that valley is quite closely tied to that of Soule (the legend of the Virgin of Soule in Garde, the tribute of the three cows, the story of the enarak, the ones from Alpargata who walked to Maule…).  Even the now extinct Roncal Basque was quite similar to Soule’s.

Soule keeps its traditions very much alive, and they sing so much there, so beautiful melodies, like this lullaby, sung in a Basque that is equally beautiful, like the Basque from the Roncal area was, are preserved.  That’s why it has such special significance for me.

On the other hand, though my soloist projects are mainly focused on mixing folk music with classical, I have another project of symphonic metal, Diabulus in Musica, and we’ve published five albums internationally, four of them under the Austrian label Napalm Records.  Though we mostly sing in English and tour abroad, I’ve always added bits of Basque into the lyrics, in order to spread our culture out a bit more.

The first single from our latest album is entirely in Basque.  It’s titled “Otoi”, and it’s our own homage to our forebears and to Basque mythology.  The video was filmed at a beautiful 16th-century cottage in Igartubeiti.  I was surprised by how many people wrote to us after we released the single, as they had never heard of our language before, and they wanted to know more about it and our history”.

OTOI
Urtzi, zeruko argia, ekaitza sortzen duena
Arbasoen babeslea, une honetako ahaztua
Non zaude? Non gaude? Ahaztu egin gaituzte
Denborak dena irentsi du eta zimeldu gaitu
Bere atzaparretan atzemanak gaude, gure sustraiak non daude?
Amari, deitzen dizut ozenki
Indarra emaiozu herriari
Urtzi, Amariren semea
Niregana heldu zara
Bidea erakustera,
Itxaropena ekartzera
Non zaude? Non gaude? Ahaztu egin gaituzte
Denborak dena irentsi du eta zimeldu gaitu
Bere atzaparretan atzemanak gaude, gure sustraiak non daude?
Amari, deitzen dizut ozenki
Indarra emaiozu herriari
Amari, deitzen dizut ozenki
Indarra emaiozu herriari
Urtzi, heavenly light, the creator of storms
The protector of our forebears, now forgotten
Where are you?  Where are we?  We’ve been forgotten
Time has devoured everything and withered us away
We’re trapped in its claws; where are our roots?
Amari, I’m calling to you out loud.
Give the people strength
Urtzi, son of Amari
You came to me.
To show me the way, to bring me hope
Where are you?  Where are we?  We’ve been forgotten
Time has devoured everything and withered us away
We’re trapped in its claws; where are our roots?
Amari, I’m calling to you out loud.
Give the pe
ople strength
Amari, I’m calling to you out loud.
Give the pe
ople strength

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision