The researcher



An instrument very different from the other bagpipes of France.


An historical territory

Historically this bagpipe was mainly played in the region of the Landes, and also in the south of the Gironde, and in the east of the Lot and Garonne.

If we had to refer to an identified territory, it would be the Landes of Gascony.

Today, as for all the instruments, the boha is played well beyond this historical area. For example we can count the bohaires in Spain, in Italy and the United Kingdom.

The many names for the same instrumentHistorically in the Gascony language this bagpipe has three different names : the boha, (bouhe), the bohaussac (bouhaussac) or the chalamina (tchalemmine). Source : : « Chants populaires de la Grande-lande », Édition établie et présentée parJacques Boisgontier et Lothaire Mabru. Oeuvres complètes, tomes III & IV, Confluences/Parc naturel régional des landes de Gascogne, 1995 -1997.

In French, the name came late. To begin with the ethnomusicologist called it the bagpipe from the Landes, and then in the 1980s they added – the bagpipe from the Landes of Gascony. Both these names were used at the same time.

Fundamental features. What exactly is a boha?
The boha is an instrument that is completely atypical of bagpipes in France. The differences lie mainly with three features:
1 The first are the two parallel playing pipes, which are on the same wood, le pihet, whereas generally each bore is on a specific piece of wood.
2 The second lies in the single reed of the melody pipe, which gives it its particular sound. Other bagpipes work on the oboe principle , and have double reeds.
3 lastly, the third feature is its accompanying pipe the contre which lets you play two notes and gives the musician the possibility to create rhythms and polyphonies

You can hear the tone of these bagpipes by listening to musical extract, which can be found on Youube : La boha de Jean Lestage

The probable fruit of an evolution
The organological complexity of this bagpipe leads you to think that this instrument, like for many instruments, is certainly the result of a slow evolution. It is unlikely that someone woke up one day with the idea of inventing a bagpipe, and that he bore two tunnels on the same piece of wood, adding a brunider at the end.

It is far more likely that after many, many years and with the imagination of musicians, a second pipe was added to the first one; then after that an extension was added to the end, in order to satisfy the need of the musician.

What is definite, is that the instruments at the end of the nineteenth century or from the beginning of the twentieth century, that we have found, or which have been observed, could be slightly different: 6 or 7 playing holes, reeds made of cane, or with lead supports, a brunider drilled with a hole. Source : MABRU Lothaire. « La cornemuse des landes de Gascogne », Belin-Beliet : Centre Lapios/Cahiers du Bazadais, éd. Les Amis du Bazadais, 1986.

The decline and revival of the boha
From the beginning of the twentieth century many converging causes led to the progressive decline and then to the disappearance of the boha : the appearance of more modern instruments, new styles, new dances…

A constantly evolving tradition

The revival of the boha took place in the 70s, keys played were close to C and Bb

For more than 20 years, from 1970 to the middle of the 90s, the instrument makers crafted the identical bagpipes to those that had been found. Many aspects of these bohas corresponded to features close to those from musicians of the olden days. Mainly a loud powerful sound which was necessary to be heard by the dancers, at a time when loudspeakers did not exist. But for us, young musicians at that time, we found this powerful sound a disadvantage, an obstacle to our new way of playing. For other musicians too, who were playing next to us, it was difficult for a violin or a hurdy-gurdy to be heard, while those bohas were playing.

In the 80s most of the accordionist decided to change tuning from C/F to G/C, and the tonality of the bagpipes followed. By lowering a quarter and lowering the pitch, the sound became softer and the tone was tremendously modified. It became better adapted to today’s playing, and further from the original way.

In the middle of the 1980s, through the impetus of Alain Cadeillan the organology of the boha developed. This genius tinkerer, by a clever system of stoppers, succeeded in widening the possibilities of the instrument by opening new playing holes. And then he also put in perfected the possibility of tuning the brunider in minor mode and the bag drone.

In the beginning of the 90s this type of organology began to spread, and today most bohaires are played with a pihet with 8 playing holes.

To discover more about the boha :



Making the instrument : Cozian
The range is wide, from the ancient boha with 5 holes to instruments with alternative holes and extra drones.



Let yourself be carried away to Gascony and discover the Boha and all its cousins in France, Europe or North Africa.
Guided by Yan Cozian, through his enthusiastic and poetic descriptions about the instruments from the Grande Lande or dancing from Gascony, you will get the flavour of traditional music. Music that is constantly developing like the artists who are keeping it alive.

These conferences can take various forms, and are suitable for children as well as adults. Speak to us about creating a personalized “à la carte”


Les actes du colloque ont été publiés, sont disponibles et peuvent être commandés au Centre départemental du Patrimoine – abbaye d’Arthous – Tél. :
Merci encore au Conseil Général des Landes d’avoir perçu l’importance qu’il y avait à réunir toutes ces personnalités qui ont marqué le renouveau de notre cornemuse.
Ces journées de travail nous ont permis de comprendre, d’analyser tout un pan de l’histoire de notre patrimoine musical landais.
Vous trouverez ci-joint en fichiers téléchargeables une partie des interventions de Yan.
Bonne lecture !- Jeanty Benquet analyse du jeu d’un musicien routinier Par Yan COZIAN : Download

– L’Évolution organologique de l’instrument : Download

– La démarche d’un musicen : Download

– Transmettre et enseigner la cornemuse landaise : Download