Galician’s lace making sounds

3 junio 2008

This article shows a small collection of sounds produced during the lace making process.


Project partially funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, General Directorate of Cultural Creation and dissemination of the Xunta of Galicia.

Galician’s lace making sounds

1.The lace making & the lace makers

As the lace museum says in its website[CAMAR-03], the lace maker job was one of the most common occupations among Death’s shore women in the beginnings of the XX’th century. The tradition on flax cultivation (the feedstock used on this area for the laces), added to the strategic location to export the laces by sea, made the lace making in this area very profitable.

Usaully, lace was made by women that were called «paliilerias» (lace makers in galician). «Palilleira», then, is a woman that is capable of making laces. A lace is a decorative fabric made of thin threads which is sewed using needles and sticks («palilleira» could be translated as «stick-user»). Threads are distributed on a pillow over which is placed a picture that is used as a pattern to get the final lace.

In order to get more info, you could check the english version of the Camariñan’s lace museun webpage[CAMAR-03].


Lance maker was a job that almost get lost. It is a manual and very tedious process. When the society on the area become more and more industrial and commercially extensive, manual lance making was not commercially profitable. It was abandoned until its almost disappearance. Today is preserved as a craft activity only. Given that the activity that produce it almost disappeared, the soundscapes also did. For that reason it’s reasonable to think on the sounds from this kind of lance making as endangered sounds, so that they’re suitable to be incorporated into fonotopias project.

3.REcording’s description

On a first shoot, you could clearly hear the sticks hitting one another and against the basis where the lance makers work. It’s a very characteristic sound that anyone is capable of recognize, once they heard it. It’s very significative. It has a very rhythmic character. The silences and the hitting of the sticks alternate apparently without pattern. They set the rythm of the lance makers work, and fill acoustically the room where the work is being done.

From an spectral point of view, we can clearly hear the highs coming from the sticks hitting between them. The bottom line is occupied by the strokes of the sticks on the basis of the lance work. Despite having a pillow covering its base, when the stiks hit the pillow, the sound produced is amplified by the wood of the base, that act as a kind of sounding board.

There’s a rich reverb on the enviroment. It’s natural. It was produced by the room where the recording was made. It was on a restored medieval castle. The walls on the room where lefted on stone, without any kind of painting or similar, so the sound is bounced and amplified by the stones on the walls. Furthermore, the room was very big, increasing the presence of this reverbed ambience sound. As expected, the reverb is very noticeable in the High frequencies of the spectrum.

We should also notice that the basis and the sticks are made on a kind of wood called «buxo»(boxwood). This kind of wood is very know by its musical properties. In fact, this wood is the most used for making quality wood instruments in Galicia: bagpipes, flutes, ocarinas… In the lance work tools no other kind of wood is used: Just boxwood. This made us think on some kind of connection between lace making and the soundscape made by the lance makers on a conscious way. (they actually want they workspace sound like that, if not why to use boxwood?)

In this second shoot, closer to the lance makers, basses from the sticks hitting the basis appear clearly. We can also perceive the harmonics created by the cloth of the pillow when the sticks fall over it, and how they rebound on the pillow every time the lance maker drops them. On the high frequencies, we keep on hearing the sticks hitting among them, accompanied by the mattress produced by the hands of the lance makers.

4.Future works

Sounds presented here are just a first approach to the soundscapes on the lance making process. A lot of work remains to be done. For example, recording the soundscapes in a more slightly and deep way, capturing as much sound nuances as possible. Things to keep in mind on doing this could be how each of the tools used on the lance making sound, rhythms generated by the lance makers as they work, possible musical transcriptions of their work and so on… Another aspect to consider in future works should be the social interaction sounds derived from the process of working on the lance. Lance workers usually work on groups and not alone, generating a lot of sound landscapes very different than when they do the job alone. Recording such work sessions will give us a perspective to compare the soundscapes when working alone. Another possibilities could be recording on different physical environments or use different types of technologies or recoding techniques to do the recordings. Specially interesting could be to do recording using the binaural technique, using the lace makers themselves as the recorders (that is , putting the mics on the head of the lace makers themselves).


To write this little paper a lot of help was needed. First, two members of Vimianzo’s lace makers assocition were the ones that did their jobs for us to record them. Second, this was recorded on the Vimianzo’s Castle, that is maintained by the council of Vimianzo. Third, the recordings were made on a craft show organized by Diputación of A Coruña. Thanks to all of them. All of the recordings were made on February 2008.

6.Referencias [CAMAR-03]Camariñas, «Camariñas lace museum web page», Council of Camariñas, Jun. 2003, [Accesed on July 2008]