Greek Gaida Player.jpg
Greek shepherd playing gaida
Other namesGajda, Gajde, Gayda
Classification Bagpipe

A gaida is a bagpipe from Southeastern Europe. Southern European bagpipes known as gaida include: the Albanian: gajde, Aromanian: gaidã, Bulgarian: гайда (gaida), Greek: γκάιντα (gáida) or τσαμπούνα (tsaboúna), Macedonian: гајда (gajda), Serbo-Croatian: gajda/гајда, Turkish: gayda also tulum.


On this Serbian gajde, the chanter is the short gray pipe at the top, while the drone is the long three-section pipe.
Bulgarian gaida player, a pre- 1945 photo. Central State Archive, Sofia
Macedonian gaida player


Gaida 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. 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

The blow pipe 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 return valve of leather or felt which allows air into the bag via the blow pipe but not back out. In some more primitive gaida 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. A more modern variant for the reed is a combination of a cotton phenolic (Hgw2082) material from which the body of the reed is made and a clarinet reed cut to size in order to fit the body. These type of reeds produce a louder sound and are not so sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. [1]


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, marmorka) 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 a double bored chanter, such as the Serbian three-voiced gajde. It has eight fingerholes: the top four are covered by the thumb and the 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.


Gaidas in the Balkans include, but are not limited to:[2]

  • Kaba gaida – a large Bulgarian bagpipe of the Rhodope mountains which has a hexagonal and rounded drone. Often described as a deep-sounding gaida
  • Dzhura gaida – a bagpipe typically found in Bulgaria which has a straight conical drone. In contrast to the kaba gaida, this is a higher pitched instrument
  • Macedonian gaida – Played in the region of Macedonia, the bagpipe is structurally between a kaba and dzhura gaida and is described as a medium pitched gaida

Players and makers

See also

  • For other types of bagpipes with similar name, see gaita


  1. ^ "gaida (bagpipe) in Greece : γκάιντα στην Ελλάδα : gaida (Dudelsack) in Griecheland : gaida Yunanistan'da". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  2. ^ За българската гайда,


  • 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. ISBN 978-9989642098.
  • Rice, Timothy (1994). May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226711225.
  • Atanasov, Vergilij (2002). The Bulgarian GAIDA/BAGPIPE. Massachusetts: Gaida Studies. ISBN 0-9724898-0-0.
  • 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.
  • The presence of the gaida in Greece [1]