The Basques are a unique group of people whose origins are somewhat surrounded in mystery. Many believe that they were prehistoric inhabitants of Europe and possibly the direct descendents of Cro-Magnon man; their language is unlike any other European language, and apparently the only Western European language that does not belong to the Indo-European family.
But they have another unique thing … the TXALAPARTA.
It consists of some wood planks placed on two stands covered with an insulating material. Wood freely vibrates when two people (txalpartaris) vertically hit them, each one with two wooden sticks.
The origin of the txalaparta is surrounded by myths. Some people place it in the prehistoric cave, imitating the galloping of horses, or used as a means of communication among Basque tribes.
It almost disappeared. In the 1960s few played it openly. The Zuaznabar brothers of Lasarte, then known as the last txalaparta players (as the Goikoetxea brothers), had to keep their instrument hidden away for fear of arrest by the Spanish Civil Guard; it was considered an overt sign of Basque identity, forbidden during the dictatorship.
Since then the txalaparta has undergone a renaissance, in part through the efforts of Oreka TX.
Oreka Tx had a dream that was to mark a turning point in the history of this unique instrument, a project in which the txalaparta would be a point of encounter, a means of communicating with others. They began travelling the world in 2004, using the txalaparta as their vehicle and home, meeting musicians and discovering the reality of far away peoples, from Mongolia to Sahara, from Lapland to India. During their travels, they compiled visual and audio materials with a clear goal in mind: to share this music, these sounds, these images, and these experiences. Their dream became a reality and the result was the astounding documentary, Nömadak Tx, which won multiple awards at international film festivals and is coming soon to theaters worldwide (the film was screened at WOMEX Film Programme 2007 at the section World Music Films on Tour), a CD distributed worldwide by Harmonia Mundi, a DVD, and a new touring show, Nömadak Tx Live :
Nömadak Tx Live takes the film’s concept to the next level. With the film projected onto a giant screen behind them, the Oreka Tx Band is joined on stage by the Saharawi and Mongolian singers featured in Nömadak Tx. The sound track evolves from the blending of live and film music, and performance pieces emanate from an impossibly-expanded ensemble, the nine people on stage combined with the multitude of musicians all over the world on screen, an extravagant multi-ethnic sound montage. The screen itself becomes a huge window onto the world, through which the audience is offered a particularly intimate glimpse into lives, music and landscapes across the globe.
This richness of the sound and variety of instruments provides the txalaparta with an unusual yet welcoming environment, allowing it to explore fresh, new directions. Experimentation and fusion are the tools of this new concept. The result is an exhilarating multi-media and multi-cultural experience with the txalaparta at its center, mythic symbol of Basque culture, driving the rhythm and tying it all together.
Harkaitz Martinez. de San Vicente (San Sebastian - Donostia, 1975) and Igor Otxoa (San Sebastian - Donostia, 1973) have played the txalaparta as Oreka Tx since 1997. That same year, they joined the band of noted Basque composer, musician, and master of the trikitixa (diatonic accordion) Kepa Junkera, a collaboration that garnered them a Latin Grammy®. They have shared the stage and/or recorded with a host of international stars, including Altan, Taraf de Haidouks, Pat Metheny, Alasdair Fraisier, Hendingarna, Dulce Pontes, Phil Cunningham, Oskorri, Hevia , María del Mar Bonet, Carlos Núñez, …
Oreka Tx's first album, Quercus Endorphina, was produced by Kepa Junkera and released by Elkarlanean in 2001. Tracks from this album were featured in the show “Txalaparta” by the celebrated Spanish dancer and choreographer Nacho Duato, presented by the National Spanish Dance Company in tours throughout the world.
In that year they formed their band (Oreka TX Band) and began to tour. They also saw these festivals around Europe, America, Africa and Japan as a launchpad to create an awareness of the txalaparta before embarking in 2004 on the project Nömadak Tx.