This article describes a software implementation dealing with the ancient Basque musical tradition of the txalaparta. The research is different from earlier studies of the txalaparta in that, by digitizing the instrument and its performance rules, we have had to formalize and make explicit conventions that hitherto have been tacit knowledge of improvisational practice. Analysis through software development is an unusual case of musicological analysis as it demands clarity and precision, and often requires multidisciplinary approaches to understand the studied subject. We have developed software in order to analyze and understand a practice that has received little musicological analysis. By expounding musical patterns and performers' behaviors that have hitherto been difficult to analyze, we reveal the social and cultural aspects of performance practice.
The txalaparta is a two-performer instrument and the software produces txalaparta rhythms and plays along with a human player, while learning and adapting to the player's style. The system helps novices to explore the rules of the txalaparta and more-experienced performers to approach the instrument from a new perspective. In this research we have applied a user-centered approach, where feedback from players using the digital txalaparta was collected. This feedback allowed us to approach the reflective vision of txalaparta players and their thoughts on the results of our research.