In Japan, they have the haikus. In hip-hop culture, they have their flamboyant rap battles… And the Basque people, we have our bertsos.
These are poetic improvised compositions that only have one verse, with consonant rhymes in the even verses that are sung in Basque! Although presented like these it may sound easy, you have to keep in mind that the bertsolaris only have a few seconds to think, to make up a bertso once the conductor of the contest has given them the theme and the metric they must use.
It gets more complicated, as there are several tests. There are not only single recitals, but also by pairs, groupal ones with short bertsos, with different roles… But let’s not just stay on the surface, a bertso is not only an improvised poem, it is a speech that is sung, rhyming and measuring. Pure rhetoric.
To be honest, “bertsolarism” is an amazing art, both because of its fluidity and the quickness it demands as for its ability to bring together tradition and the modern times.