EU2019 Award

Traditional Music and Dance in Mallorca

Mallorca, which is the largest island in the Balearic Islands at 3,640 square kilometers, is part of a famous archipelago that also includes Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera and smaller islands such as Cabrera and Dragonera. This archipelago, which belongs to Spain, adorns the Mediterranean Sea off the east coast of the country. Geographically, Mallorca is located at a latitude of 39.710358 and a longitude of 2.995148, approximately 130 miles south of Barcelona and 150 miles east of Valencia. The island extends about 100 km in a west-east direction and 75 km in a north-south direction.

The formation of the Balearic Islands is dated to around 150 million years ago. Mallorca was originally connected to the Iberian Peninsula as an underwater island before taking on its current form. Mallorca is characterized by unusual fertility and green landscapes, which is not a given for a Mediterranean island. The island offers an impressive variety of natural landscapes, from the majestic mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana in the west to the picturesque agricultural plains in the fertile center. But Mallorca is best known for its golden beaches and crystal-clear, turquoise water, which make the island a sought-after travel destination in the summer months.

One of the oldest and most unusual musical traditions in Mallorca is the Cossiers dance. Limited to just 5 or 6 towns and villages, this dance dates back at least 600 years and, although performed by men (six, plus a ¨lady¨, usually also a man), is essentially female, with the exception of the devil tries to spoil everything but always loses. In Alaró, the first dance usually takes place in the church square, and then the group goes on a tour of the village, repeating the performance in different places, where they are harassed with food and drink, to the detriment of the dance!

Another spectacular Mallorcan tradition imported from Catalonia is the Correfoc, not so much a dance as a dance with massive drums, fireworks, dragons, devils and other creatures of the night – it’s very loud and a little dangerous!

Often seen in parades during the fiestas in Mallorca are the gigantes (giants) and capgrossos (big heads). The dances performed by the giants are, of course, rather stately affairs!

Traditional Mallorcan musical instruments can be as simple as mass drums or the combination of xeremies (bagpipes), flabiol (5-hole flute) and tamborí (small drum) seen below, or more complex with the addition of bandúrria (similar to a lute ), guitarrós (small guitars), violins, castanets and triangles. There is also a musical curiosity called the ximbomba, a type of grating drum, small versions of which are often sold to tourists.

It’s great to see how these cultural connections to Mallorca’s ancient traditions are maintained and even flourishing in the 21st century.