Jota is a specialist in instruments of the Spanish medieval tradition.
He was born in Madrid in 1971. In 1987 he began his studies of singing, guitar,
music and harmony at the "Dionisio Aguado" Music School.
In 1996 he began his studies of hurdy-gurdy and specialized in this instrument
by attending several courses organized by the Iberian Hurdy-Gurdy Association,
given by the best hurdy-gurdy players in Europe. Among others: Valentin
Clastrier, Gilles Chabenat, Pascal Lefevre, Isabel Pignol, Ana Lise Foi, Patric
Boufard, Mathias Loibner, Ricardo Delfino, etc.
Since 1990 he has been studying historical and traditional percussion in a selftaught
way, reinforced by courses with: David Mayoral and Glen Velez, among
others. His specialties in this field are instruments such as: traditional
tambourines of the world, square tambourines, round tambourines, dabul,
dohola, tabales, nakires, tallira, among others.
Since 2001, he is being trained in the study of plucked string instruments and
specializes in medieval citole and lute.
Since 1998, he has been working as a multi-instrumentalist, in studio and live, in
groups of early music such as: Canto Figurado (Ars Nova), Coral Alfonso X el
Sabio (Medieval Spanish Music), Música Antigua de Eduardo Paniagua, Capella
de Ministrers (Early Music), Axivil (Early Music), Al Andaluz Project. (Music three
cultures in Al Andalus). Diatessaron Ensemble. (Baroque Music), Ensemble
Xácara. (Medieval Music and Renaissance), Ensemble L'Allegreza. (Pre-Baroque
It is worth mentioning his work in a project of research and reconstruction of
the instruments of the peninsular medieval tradition, which has more than 150
pieces and has resulted in the publication of a CD-book, including music and
information, called "Musical Instruments of the Spanish Medieval Tradition".
Since 2005 he has been composing, recording and producing music for
documentaries, short films and musicals in his own studio, "Pilgrim Records".
It was in 2004 when I began the task of documenting and reconstructing the
musical instruments represented in the Alphonsian works.
After 15 years of work, in 2019 we managed to complete the only one collection
integrated in the world of what we will call “Alphonsian Musical
Instrumentarium”, and that is nothing more than the faithful reconstruction, and
from a practical point of view, of the different musical instruments that I have
found in the illuminations and miniatures of the manuscripts made in the court
of Alfonso X the Wise; a total of 60 pieces.
In 2017, I created the Alphonsian Ensemble to offer something we presented as
an unprecedented “Alphonsian experience”. Music of the Alphonsian
manuscripts, with the instruments represented in them, something unpublished
and novel so far. Of course, many concerts on the Cantigas de Santa María have
already been done, but until that moment, nobody had done so with the musical
instruments of their own time and that they were caught in time, as in a
photograph, in the miniatures and illuminations of the same manuscripts.
In addition to the iconographic sources that have reached us and the few literary
entries and records of the time, another very important source when it comes to
reconstructing both the instruments and the repertoire is folklore and traditional
and root music. In the popular culture of the entire Mediterranean, there have
been clues for all this recovery, and as an organologist, musicologist
and medievalist, enriched by these traditions, I wanted to find the connections
that bind us to this past to show, without any doubt and with total confidence
and realism, a new proposal on this Marian repertoire of the thirteenth century,
linking historical rigor to tradition, to value this legacy of our intangible heritage,
which has been badly treated on some occasions.
For this task I have surrounded myself with an ensemble whose members have
not only had the necessary academic training to play the special instruments
they play, but they have also been in permanent contact with traditional
peninsular and Mediterranean music, as well as with contemporary music to us,
which has demanded from them a preparation for improvisation and an open
mind to mixing and musical understanding between cultures.
Alphonsian Musical Instrumentarium
The Alphonsian manuscripts, perfectly illuminated and miniatured, are a firstrate
iconographic reference to learn about the customs and way of life of their
time. It could not be otherwise, and given his great passion for music, many
musical instruments put in the hands of his musicians were also represented.
This visual information, for those of us dedicated to medieval instruments, is
fundamental and gives us a lot of information about the instruments and music
of the 13th century.
From this moment on all musical instruments and sound contraptions
represented in the Alphonsian manuscripts, we will call them "Alphonsian
instruments", and the collection of all instruments will be called "Alphonsian
This does not mean that they were instruments that the king played or that
were only played in his court or were invented, discovered or collected by him
or his subjects in his travels, no, none of this.
It is clear that they are only representations of instruments that were known at
the time. Some of them, of the classical tradition, some totally fashionable and
others, possibly, being developed and experimented at that precise moment, as
it will be showed in the organological study that I am preparing and that I will be
publishing shortly. But it seems practical and correct to use a name that brings
them all together, and I consider this to be appropriate.