The sac de gemecs is the bagpipe from Catalonia. It is known by many different names depending on the geographical location: criatura verda, mossa, buna, xeremia, ploranera, and others. Although for a good few years this instrument’s popularity was in decline, it is currently enjoying renewed status in traditional Catalan music.

The traditional type of sac de gemecs consists of a whole goat skin sewn together, with the holes for the hind legs sewn up, while the blowpipe, the chanter (tuned to C4) and a stock with three drones coming out of it (C3 – G3 – C4, respectively) are sewn into the other three orifices of the skin where the two front legs and the head were on the live animal. The position of the drones, which fall forward from the head orifice, could be reminiscent of when the Catalan-Aragonese crown was present in Italy: this design is not customary in the regions that surround Catalonia, but is, for example, in La Zampogna, in the north of the Italian peninsula.

In Els Berros de la Cort we use a type of sac de gemecs specifically designed to enhance the performance and is called “lateral drones”. With this sac the skin is cut and sewn in such a way as to position the chanter and the blowpipe pointing towards the hands and the mouth. Furthermore, the position of the drones, which are joined to the skin laterally, mean that the chanter can be held more easily and also make it more efficient and comfortable for the sound cuts.

The sound of the sac de gemecs is powerful, partly because the chanter uses a double-reed, but also because the drone base is very full and spectacular. The relationship of notes that the drones offer–two tonic notes (on the octave) and a fifth– is unusual in the world of the bagpipes. Els Berros de la Cort uses these defining characteristics to offer an exceptional sonority, fusing this sound with instruments like the hurdy-gurdy, the gralla and the tarota. The models we use are made by the Catalan luthier Cesc Sans (