Txistu handi or silbote

AnonymousXX century

Gordailua, the Gipuzkoa Heritage Collection Centre

Gordailua, the Gipuzkoa Heritage Collection Centre

The txistu handi or silbote is a three-holed variant on the typical flute (two at the front and one at the back) without keys. Because of its size, it is played with both hands. It was developed throughout the nineteenth century to accompany the txistu and add more deep-pitched sounds. A typical quarter consists of two txistus, a silbote and a timbrel.

The three-holed flute which is played with one hand, nearly always accompanied by a timbrel or other percussion instrument. It has been widely used from very ancient times throughout Europe and other regions of the world. the txistu has long been the most common instrument played in Basque fiestas, and the most geographically widespread. It even has an institutional function, being played at civic and religious ceremonies. Even today, all the large Basque towns have municipal bands of txistularis. The band in Donostia / San Sebastian has eight uniformed members.

This example, made in the 1960s was donated by Donostia / San Sebastian City Hall to the San Telmo Museum.


Beltran, Juan Mari. Soinutresnak euskal herri musikan. [Hernani] : Orain, 1996. 63-70

Inventory number: STM-027602-001

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  • Title: Txistu handi or silbote
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date: XX century
  • Physical Dimensions: 63,5x3,5x3,5 cm
  • Provenance: San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa)
  • Type: Music instrument
  • Medium: Wood, Metal