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Greek shepherd playing gaida
Other names Gajda, Gajde, Gayda
Classification Bagpipe

A gaida is a bagpipe from the Balkans and Southeast Europe. Southeastern European bagpipes known as gaida include: the Albanian gajde, Turkish gayda or tulum, Croatian and Serbian gajde, Bulgarian and Macedonian гайда/гајда (gajda) and Slovak gajdy.


  • Construction 1
    • Bag 1.1
    • Blow pipe 1.2
    • Reeds 1.3
    • Chanter 1.4
    • Drone 1.5
  • Players and makers 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


Macedonian gajda player
On this Bulgarian gajde, the chanter is the short gray pipe at the top, while the drone is the long three-section pipe.
Greek gaida player


Gajda bags are generally of sheep or goat hide. Different regions have different ways of treating the hide. The simplest methods involve just the use of salt, while more complex treatments involve milk, flour, and the removal of fur. In the Macedonian regions, the hide is normally turned inside out so that the fur is on the inside of the bag, as this helps with moisture buildup within the bag. The stocks into which the chanters and blowpipe and drone fit are called "glavini" (главини) in Bulgarian. These can be made out of cornel wood or animal horn.

Blow pipe

This is a short, conical wooden or bone tube in which the player blows to refill the bag. At the end of the blow pipe that is within the bag, there is a small check valve (return valve) of leather or felt that allows air into the bag via the blow pipe but not back out. In some more primitive gajda there is no flap, but the player blocks returning air with his tongue during breaths.


Each chanter is fitted with a reed made from reed (arundo donax), bamboo, or elder. In regional languages these are variously termed lemellas, Piska, or pisak.


The chanter (gaidunitza, gaidanitsa, gajdenica, gajdica, zurle) is the pipe on which the melody is played. Different gaida may have a conical bore (Bulgaria), or cylindrical bore (Macedonia and other regions). Popular woods include boxwood (shimshir) cornel wood, plum wood or other fruit wood. A distinctive feature of the gaida's chanter (which it shares with a number of other Eastern European bagpipes) is the "flea-hole" (also known as a mumbler or voicer, mramorka) which is covered by the index finger of the left hand. The flea-hole is smaller than the rest and usually consists of a small tube that is made out of metal or a chicken or duck feather. Uncovering the flea-hole raises any note played by a half step, and it is used in creating the musical ornamentation that gives Balkan music its unique character.

Some types of gaida can have double bored chanter, such as the Serbian three-voiced gajde. It has eight fingerholes: the top four are covered by the thumb and first three fingers of the left hand, then the four fingers of the right hand cover the remaining four holes.


The drone (ruchilo, ison, prdaljka, prdak, brčalo) is a long pipe which provides a constant harmony note, and thus has no finger-holes. It is generally a long, three-piece tube with a note much lower than that of the chanter.

Players and makers

See also

  • Kaba gaida, a large Bulgarian bagpipe of the Rhodope mountains
  • For other types of bagpipes with similar name, see gaita


  1. ^


  • Garaj, Bernard (1995). Gajdy a gajdošská tradícia na Slovensku. Bagpipe and Bagpipers´ Tradition in Slovakia. ASCO Ústav hudobnej vedy SAV Bratislava. 
  • Dzimrevski, Borivoje (1996). Gajdata vo Makedonija: Instrument-instrumentalist-muzika. Institut za folklor Marko Cepenkov.  
  • Rice, Timothy (1994). May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music. University of Chicago Press.  
  • Atanasov, Vergilij (2002). The Bulgarian GAIDA/BAGPIPE. Massachusetts: Gaida Studies.  
  • Širola, Božidar (1937). Sviraljke s udarnim jezičkom. Zagreb: JAZU. 
  • Leibman, Robert. Traditional Songs and Dances from the Soko Banja Area. LP: Selo Records. 
  • Levy, Mark (1985). The Bagpipe in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. University of California. 
  • Jakovljević, Rastko (2012). Marginality and Cultural Identities: Locating the Bagpipe Music of Serbia. PhD Thesis, Durham University. 
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