Dec 172018

Greis mad pier gali galan performed by Jorj Botuha

The fourth CERMAA analysis in the Breton series (and no. 43 in the VIAMAP series) features the melody “Greis mad pier gali galan” performed by Jorj Botuha on the 13th of September 2003 in Auray – France (Brittany). Botuha was interviewed and recorded by Amine Beyhom, and performed on three different bombards[1]. The particular bombard used for this song is tuned to a ≈ 448 hz: it was measured in situ, back in 2003 and with the help of an EM-50 “Oriental” (Roland) keyboard (below), as 445.4 hz.

The EM-50 “Oriental” (Roland) keyboard used by Amine Beyhom for pitch measuring and melodic contour modeling in Brittany in 2003 in the workshop of Jorj Botuha in Auray. To the left, on top of the keyboard, the notebook of the author with annotations and two double-reeds made by Botuha – Photo credit: Amine Beyhom

It is an original instrument in boxwood – dating back to (approx.) 1850 – from the region of Aradon (Gulf of the Morbihan) in Brittany. The original missing reed was replaced by one of the making of Botuha[2].

Original bombard in boxwood from approx. 1850 from the region of Aradon (Gulf of the Morbihan) in Brittany owned by Jorj Botuha in 2003 – Photo credit: Amine Beyhom

The scale and parts of the melody are analyzed in details in the article “Dossier : Mesures d’intervalles – Méthodologie et Pratique.” Revue Des Traditions Musicales Des Mondes Arabe et Méditerranéen 1, no. 1 (June 2007): 181–235. by Amine Beyhom (notably p. 211-215), and follow the approximate progression a 4 b 3 c+ 3 d 5 e+ 3 f#+ 4 g#+ 1 A (numbers correspond to intervals in multiples of the quarter-tone, + and – signs to alterations of one quarter tone with “#+” meaning that the degree of the scale is raised by 3 quarter-tones). This does not correspond, to our knowledge, to any other known scale.

The melody spans one octave to the most, with a stable tonic measured around 34 s_a (for 34 seconds of the analysis as shown on the graphic output below – to differentiate this time from video time in seconds or “s_v”) equivalent to 42 s_v.

Tonic was measured around 34 s_a (seconds of analysis), 42 s_v (seconds of video time)

The third and fifth to seventh (sub-tonic) degrees are clearly raised when compared to a Western minor scale on a, but the scale features a just fourth and a stable tonic.

The graphic (with Praat), video-Analysis and editing are by Amine Beyhom and feature an intensity curve (relative) in maroonish color.

The video-analysis was uploaded 17/12/2018 and is also available at

[1] The bombard is a conical-bore double-reed instrument with a powerful sound played by sonors for traditional dances in Brittany. It is usually played with the Breton bagpipe, the binioù, in the binioù khoz (“old bagpipe”) version. The melodic range of the binioù lies one octave above the range of the bombard. Most bombards are tuned to a ≈ 440 hz.

[2] The form and material of the reeds impact the resulting notes – and consequently the scale.

 Posted by at 11:07