The tarota is first cousin to the gralla; they share the same basic morphology, as well as the same historical and geographical origins. It could be said to be the middle link between the medieval chirimias used by minstrels and some of the modern instruments seen in cobla bands, such as the tible and the tenora (the older brother of the tible). The tarota is longer than the gralla and it has a register of four lower notes than a gralla without keys, reaching C2; and if the tarota has keys, which is also possible for the gralla, its register widens to reach A1. It is, therefore, the ideal instrument to play with the gralla and the sac de gemecs.

Although playing the tarota requires a specific technique, its organological similarity to other double-reed instruments means that its technical basis is very similar. This has encouraged an increase in the number of tarota players over the last few years here in Catalonia, which has led to its integration into both traditional and modern musical bands.

The tarota forms part of some of the most famous traditional music bands at a Catalan national level: the 3-instrument minstrel band (cobla de tres quartans), which consists of the tarota, the piccolo and the tambori -a small drum-, and the sac de gemecs; and the “half cobla” (mitja cobla), which is made up of the tarota and the sac de gemecs, or the tarota, the piccolo and the tambori.

These two formations typically livened up local festivals before the modern cobla band was created. Until recently it was difficult to hear the gralla and the tarota together in the same band because the gralla’s bond to the traditional way of tuning -415Hz- was incompatible with the tarota’s at 440Hz. This change is thanks to the innovation and commitment of creative and daring luthiers like Cesc Sans. The result is a stable formation with high and low registers of similar timbres and no tuning problems: a luxury for traditional music players and, therefore, for the country.

The tarota provides Els Berros de la Cort with the base melody needed to compensate for the high register of the rest of the wind instruments. This allows for quite a wide general register- A1 to the biniou’s G5-, which is also, therefore, very versatile. We play different tarota models made by the luthier Cesc Sans (