Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials: “Monzuno e Dintorni”
This year, Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials presented some of the most fun and engaging music at the Folklife Festival. But despite this band’s fresh sound, the cobla itself is relatively old, popularized in the nineteenth century. Comprised of eleven musicians and twelve instruments, a cobla features trumpets, trombones, a double bass, and a few instruments probably less recognizable to the American eye. These include the delightfully named flabiol (a type of flute), fiscorn (a baritone saxhorn), and Catalan schwam (similar to an oboe). The complete outfit traditionally accompanies the Sardanas, a delicate, systematic circle dance.
But Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials is not exactly a traditional band. In “Has Despertat el Dimoni” and “Monzuno e Dinorni,” they infuse jazz and other textures into the traditional cobla sound. The result is infectious music that excites Catalans and non-Catalans alike.
Aidan Keys is a senior at Howard University double majoring in English and Spanish. She is currently interning with the Catalonia program of the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.