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canario timbrado


by Joaquín M. Sandua FOCDE-OMJ (COM) international judge

It's always a great satisfaction to find a new group of Timbrado breeders, but this feeling is even stronger if it's a non Spanish one, it seems that, after all, our race is in a steady, although somehow slow, international expansion. For us everything started quite a long time ago, at the end of the 40s, when in different areas of Spain small groups of fanciers would struggle to save what remained of the ancient Spanish song race "Canario del Pais" (Country's Canary), almost extinct during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). In Asturias we followed the steps of Mr. Antonio Drove Aza, international Roller judge and great fancier of Timbrado and Nightingale, who was our teacher for a long time. Mr. Drove's attempts to improve the song of his "canarios del pais" led him to cross them with wild canaries getting, with years of selection, birds (called "canarios de Vich" after the city in Catalonia where Mr. Drove lived) in which the main ! feature was their outstanding discontinuos tours (floreos). We rebuilt those birds, lost in that dreadful war, starting with the proper features needed for a good canary song: deep and wide chest, short neck, big and rounded head. Afterwards our aim was to remove the continuos (timbres) notes of our birds, so their best tours, floreos and clucks, could develop in all their beauty; at the same time our fight was against whatever harsh passage could be present in their repertoire, specially CHAUS and PIAUS that, easily, were transformed into the more musical but still imperfect MAU-MAU and DAU-DAU. And all this process was done without any teaching to the youngsters, working just with their genetic pool; we understood, then as now, that teaching just blurs the main goal, the genetic improvement of our race.

It wasn't easy, we were a small number of breeders and our task was said to be "utopian". Later in the 60s, when it was clear that our birds were a firm reality, those birds were accused of being "atypical", the result of crosses with foreign races (unknown at that time in Asturias) or to lack basic and hereditary Timbrado's tours (how could they be basic and hereditary and disappear so easily?). We didn't worry much about all that fuss and continued working with this concept of Timbrado, giving relevance to the real important issue, the quality, the difficulty of the tours and not so much to the amount of passages. The success of this policy is obvious: our canary is widespread in Spain, each year with more supporters and giving birds of outstanding quality.

Our Timbrado is a bird with a discontinuos song, which repertoire is mainly based in floreos, clucks and joint variations. Our birds don't have "timbres" (bells/rings) or have a very few of them, but we don't think that timbres or rolled variations should disappear from the standard because Timbrado is able to sing them, by themselves or forming joint variations. We don't want this continuos turns (timbres) in our birds but if someone thinks the opposite is free to promote them though we should know that as in Roller the discontinuos tours damage the perfect emission of the continuos (rolls), in our race happens the same: timbres and rolled variations (timbre profundo in FOE's standard) damage the emission of floreos, so a strain that wants the highest quality of discontinuos tours has to remove the continuos or reduce them to a minimum role.

In our work with wild canary we realized that we could find two song lines, watery and non watery and our birds inherited those features from their wild ancestors. We preserved and developed the watery line but always avoiding a change in our bird's syrinx that could direct them towards Malinois (Waterslager) features. Timbrado birds are able to perform watery tours, even some difficult and discontinuos slow water, but we must prevent an extreme specialization in these notes that move us away from Timbrado's standard ; same can be said about "timbres" and rolled variations in relation with Roller. From our point of view "floreos" are the distinctive feature of Timbrado, his most beautiful and difficult tours, and so should be the basis of his song. This was our starting point and we built our bird (and are still building, this is an endless process!!) like a musical instrument, avoiding any kind of harsh passages and with the principle of the! pure genetic song (non teaching method). Now you fanciers must judge


The word TIMBRE in Spanish has two different meanings. It's the English door bell and its sound ( and for us in Timbrado the tour that remind us his throb ) but it's too, as in English, a quality of the sound as are pitch and volume that allow us to distinguish a musical instrument, a voice or a race of canaries from others. In the 50s a group of judges and fanciers defended that the name of our race should be TIMBRADO because TIMBRES, as specific tours, would be the basis of his song. We thought that timbres could be or not present in Timbrado's repertoire but never like the foundation of their song and the name could be TIMBRADO but just because of his distinctive TIMBRE, as quality of voice, metallic, bright, harmonious. It seems that the pass of time gave us the reason.

As the standard days, TIMBRE like particular note is the tour with continuous emission rate which sound remind us the metallic throb of a mechanic door bell, so formed by the consonant R and the Spanish vowel I equivalent to the English long E ( rreerreerree ). However there's a school of thinking in Timbrado that considers "timbres" not just this continuous metallic one but, as well, the semicontinuous sounds formed by the English long E and consonants like B, L, T, D... which sound is similar to that traditional door bell. The standard recognizes two of them like independent notes, TIMBRE DE AGUA (watery bell) or NOTA BATIDA in FOE's standard and CASCABEL (jingle bell) and in my point of view, both must be considered like specific semicontinuous "timbres".
TIMBRE DE AGUA ( watery bell ) or TIMBRE BATIDO ( beating bell) as it's known too, is formed by the co! nsonants B, L and the vowel long E and is sung in a semicontinuous rate ( bleebleeblee ). As specific note that must remind the beating of water it needs that precise composition and, so, if the L is missing the outcome ( beebeebee ) can't be considered watery bell.
Something similar happen with CASCABEL ( jingle bell ) that needs the specific composition "leenleenleen". If the N at the end is not present, the sound is quite different ( leeleelee ) and can't be described as jingle bell because it's not like the produced by the musical instrument.
However there are some judges that consider the tour "beebeebee" timbre de agua (watery bell) and "leeleelee" cascabel (jingle bell). I think that this is a great mistake as it's, as well, to include notes like "deedeedee" or "teeteetee" in floreos, as some do. All these tours, from my point of view and other judges and fanciers are just timbres sung in a semicontinuous emission rate


ROLLING VARIATIONS ( variaciones rodadas in FOCDE's standard or timbre profundo=deep door bell in FOE's ) are the tours that remind us the sound made by a compact ball rolling over a rough, ridged surface. These notes share with the continuous door bell the same features except the vowels that participate in their composition. In the continuous door bell the only possible vowel is the Spanish "I" ( rrirrirri ) or English long "E" ( rreerreerree) while in rolled variations are "O" and "U" ( with the English sounds rrohrrohrroh / rroorroorroo ).

Rarely we will find the vowel "A" ( rrarrarra ) shaping a sound in which the "r" is stronger than the "a", scratchy, hoarse and throaty. It's so an amusical sound that must be severely punished. More common is the sound with the sort English "E" ( rrehrrehrreh ) not as bad as the previous but neither good, often scratchy and, from my point of view, always nasal or twanging. This is the, time ago called, TIMBRE INTERMEDIO (intermediate door bell), now excluded (with great reason) from FOCDE'S standard because is an amusical sound. Let's remember that there's no musical instrument with this vowel sound that just a broken one can produce like, for instance, a cracked bell ringing. I'm musicologist ( translator's note: and conductor of orchestra and choir ) and can state that there's no perfect sound formed by the vowel "eh" by itself.

So we just have left the continuos tours with the vowel sounds "oh" and "oo" ( Spanish "o" and "u"). These tours are basic in Waterslager and, specially, Roller, races that have achieved the greatest perfection in their performance thanks to their modified syrinx, evolved towards this goal. With Timbrado's syrinx we'll never be able to reach the same quality in these notes. As I've explained other times the problem is that these continuous tours prevent the full development of the semicontinuous and discontinuous in which Timbrado can reach really outstanding levels. So I recommend the removal of the continuous tours in their single form ( sounds rreerreerree / rrohrrohrroh / rroorroorroo ), although they should remain in the standard as can be part of interesting cojoined variations.

CLUCKS (cloqueos)

As I've explained previously when in the begining of the develop of Timbrado was neccesary to choose names for the different notes that this bird performs, was thought that the best was to relate those tours with the sounds made by different musical instruments, animals or objects. Following this principle CLUCKS will be the notes similar to the cry of a broody hen, with the composition "clohc-clohc-clohc" as the most perfect but with some other possibilities ( "tlohc-tlohc"/ "clooc-clooc"/ "cloh-cloh"... ). In the primitive standards of Timbrado were included in this note tours without any similarity whatsoever with the clucks of a hen like, for instance, "bee-bee", "looee-looee" or "lohoo-lohoo". This is a serious technical mistake that has been corrected in FOCDE's modern codes but is still present in FOE's.

CASTANET shares with clucks the same composition except the vowel that must be always "A". We can find to forms, the less valuable "cla-cla-cla" and the most perfect (and rare) "clac-clac-clac"; both notes, but specially the second, remind us the sound of wooden castanets. In quite a lot of "classic" Timbrado lines was very common (and still is in some) the, so called, castanets in "CH" with sounds "cha-cha" or "chac-chac". From my point of view (and FOCDE's standard) these and the even worse "chas-chas" must be severely punished as they are harsh, faulty tours without any musical value. Same can be said about the, more rare, clucks with "CH" ("choc-choc") and any other note in which this sound is present.

In the clucks we can realize easily if our Timbrados are from a watery or a non watery ("dry") lineage. If the clucks aren't watery the birds probably will not perform slow water tours; on the contrary watery clucks are linked to repertoires in which this slow water is present. These are the two lineages that have been developed in our Timbrado and the choice is just up to the personal preferences of each fancier because both are producing great champions. The presence of watery clucks in a bird will affect his whole repertoire, giving some watery resonance to the rest of the notes and,so, the flourishes ("floreos") will be watery and the cojoined variations will be mainly formed by whatever note plus water.

There are some quite common notes in Timbrado derived from clucks or castanet but with a clear "N" at the end of each syllable (sounds "clon-clon", "tlon-tlon","clan-clan","tlan-tlan") that I believe must be scored under the note CHURCH BELL (campana) because this end makes them similar to the sound of that object. If the "N" is missing should be included in clucks or castanets but with lower values than the most perfect forms finishing in "C".


The concept of flourishes in Timbrado is really wide as can be formed by all the vowels and consonants of the alphabet and, so, there's almost no limit in their possible composition. All the tours sung by a Timbrado in a semicontinuous or discontinuous emission rate that can not be considered another note of the standard, will be flourishes. If sung in a semicontinuous rate we'll not be able to distinguish the break between the syllabes ( looloolooloo ) as happen with semicontinuous clucks; discontinuous flourishes, in which the break is perfectly noticeable ( tolee-tolee-tolee ), are called SLOW FLOURISHES (floreos lentos) in FOCDE's standard and can still be sung in a less quick and superb beautiful manner if the vocals of the tour are lengthen ( toleeee-toleeee-toleeee ).

The quantity and variety of flourishes is, so, almost infinite, but not all of them can have the same value. In Asturias we have been always faithful to a principle which is to achieve in our Timbrados difficult and beautiful repertoires. Our birds make music, their throat is an amazing musical instrument, and so in the judgement of their performances the laws of music must be strictly considered and strained or harsh notes heavily punished, trying to focus our bird's song towards the musical perfection. In this sense there are sounds that never can be perfect because their essence is closer to shrillness than to music. "CH" sound is one of them and all the notes with this sound must be considered defective or, even, faulty. This was understood by Roller and Waterslager fanciers from the beginning of the development of those races and they eradicated these dreadful notes from their birds; why the primitives standards of Timbrado didn't make the same with flourishes in "CH" ( sounds chee, cheeaoo, chaoo...) and the close and as well defective forms in "P" ( peeahoo ) is something that, from the 50s, puzzled us. To remove CHAUS and PIAUS from the standard was one of our main goals and, to do this, we had to prove that it was possible to raise a high quality stock of Timbrados without these notes, thought by many to be hereditary. It was not just possible but easy and the offspring of the first crosses between wild canary and Timbrado, when isolated from tutoring, didn't perform any "chaus" or "piaus", replacing them with other, better flourishes.

As I've said previously our second principle was to achieve complexity, difficulty in our bird's song. We understand that more difficult notes must be better scored, for instance a simple and easy flourish "loo-loo-loo" can't be considered at the same level as a much more difficult like "toolooleeeeoh-toolooleeeeoh-toolooleeeeoh". The first one can be performed even by second class birds; the second just by champions. "Chaus" and "piaus" are some of the easiest notes that can be performed by a Timbrado. We can prove this with a simple test: if we place a bad bird, with a song full of "chaus", close to other with a much better repertoire, the second will quickly copy the faulty notes of the first while the bad one will never be able to incorporate any difficult note to his song.

As summary, if we agree that beauty and difficulty must be the principles of our work in Timbrado, we must remove CHAUS, PIAUS, CHAC, CHAS and other forms of, easy to perform, harsh notes; once we have done this and if we raise a quality stock, our birds will develop other better tours. This work has already been done by most of good fanciers in Spain and not just from "floreado" lineages. Finally the common sense will prevail: if a sound is annoying it can't be good. And I can't imagine anything more annoying that a team of birds singing at full voice CHAUS, PIAUS and CHAS.


The original codes and standards for Timbrado didn't include watery tours like independent, characteristic notes ( still FOE's doesn't ) and from the beginning of our work with Timbrado this was something that we couldn't accept. As we proved, some lines of wild canary, specially from the island of Tenerife, have a very watery repertoire and it was from birds like those that Roller and Waterslager developed their watery lineages. As the outcome of our crosses with wild canary we got high quality lines of Timbrado with watery tours, notes that were perfectly different from Roller or Malinois standard. As we explained in hundreds of technical meetings, the main difference between Roller, Waterslager and Timbrado is the characteristic "timbre" ( as quality of voice) from each breed. The notes themselves are mainly the same but sound different because are sung by throats with dissimilar physical traits, with dissimilar "timbre".

After years of controversy our posture was finally accepted and watery notes included in FOCDE's and COM's (Worldwide Ornithological Confederation) standards. However we must be very clear in this subject. Timbrados will just be able to sing the sort of water notes that their syrinx allows them and will never be as deeply watery as Waterslager's, breed specialized in those tours and whose "timbre" has been changed to achieve that perfection. If the water tours of our birds sound Waterslager like we are in a wrong selective process, we are changing Timbrado's "timbre" for Waterslager's. Exactly the same happen with Timbrado's "rolling variations" ( "variaciones rodadas" in FOCDE's standard and "timbre profundo" in FOE's ): if we try to obtain perfect "rolling variations" we'll need to modify Timbrado's syrinx towards Roller's and our birds will sound more and more Roller like. The main difference between Timbrado and other breeds i! s his characteristic "timbre" ( as quality of voice ), metallic, bright, and, so, must be preserved avoiding ( and punishing in the contests ) Waterslager or Roller like selective paths.

SLOW WATER tours are sung in a clear discontinuous emission rate. They will be formed by the consonants BL or GL plus the diphthongs OI, UI and OU or the triphthong OUI ( bloi-bloi-bloi / glui-glui-glui...) and the sound must remind us a drop falling inside a container half full. The tour will reach great value if it is sung in a real slow manner.

SEMIBOUND or SEMICONNECTED WATER notes are composed by the same consonants BL or GL but with just the simple vowels O or U, sung in a semicontinuous rate ( blublublu/ glogloglo ) reminding us the sound of bubbling water.

In both tours is basic the clear composition BL or GL because, otherwise, the watery feeling dissapears. The tours will reach more value if are modulated and the consonants neatly sung.

Joaquín M. Sandua is international Spanish Timbrado judge belonging to FOCDE and OMJ-COM (Worldwide Judge Organization). With the ,as well, judges Rafael Martinez Bouzo, Antonio Ecalle, Jesus Gomez del Cueto and a small group of breeders, developed from the 50s in the region of Asturias (north of Spain) a very distinctive lineage of Timbrado, first known like "asturiano" and lately "floreado" or "discontinuous", nowadays widespread in Spain. Mr. Sandua, great fancier and enthusiastic judge, belongs to a generation who saved, from the ashes of our Civil War, the gems of our best Spanish Song Canaries.


From the 50s, begining of the Spanish Timbrado Song as a recognized race, there were significant conceptual differences among the fanciers. The breeders from Asturias gathered up in the only club that at that time was nationwide spread, the ACE (Asociacion de Canaricultores Espanoles = Spanish Canary-breeders Association); a bit later FOE was born grouping mainly clubs from Catalonia and, later on, some from the rest of the country. Although there were critical voices, the "official" Timbrado that both associations defended was mainly the same, with a repertoire founded on what they said were "basic and hereditary" notes as piaus, chaus, timbres and rolled variations (timbre profundo = deep timbre in FOE's standard).

From Asturias we never shared those thesis; we thought that those tours were not hereditary and shouldn't be basic. If hereditary they couldn't have been removed as a blond and blue eyed human been will pass this features to his offspring. And in Asturias at that time we had already began our own project, starting from the wild canary because of his closeness with Timbrado and his pure, untransformed song. In the first steps of our work those harsh chaus and piaus were easily removed and we did slowly the same with the continuous tours (timbres and rolled variations). As our point of view was getting more and more strength, some of our postulates (slow water, cojoined variations...) were included like features of this "new" Timbrado which development seemed, already, unstoppable. At this time we, together with the fanciers from ACE and most of the Spanish canary-culture world, formed FOCDE while FOE stayed paralized in their old concepts, where they are still today.

Nowadays in FOCDE we find three schools of Timbrado. One of them, still quite strong, is headed by a group of judges that although don't talk any more about those old "basic and hereditary tours" in the practice don't give good scores to birds without continuous tours or, even in some cases, without piaus and chaus. I belive this lineage will disappear in a few years because of the great and growing demand for the two other, the watery and the hollow lines. This two lines share the same concept, to do without the continuous tours and to punish severely chaus and piaus like harsh faulty notes. The outcome is a Timbrado with a wide repertoire based in discontinuous (slow floreos, cojoined variations) and semidiscontinuous tours (floreos, clucks), shaping a song of superb beauty and great difficulty to the performer that demands good technical level in the breeder because there's no way to exactly know how the youngsters will develop their song, happ! ening that nest brothers can sing quite dissimilar repertoires.

The difference between this two "floreado" lineages is the presence, in the watery one, of the note slow water, an individual tour that, when present, gives a watery resonance to the whole song of a bird. For instance in a watery bird the clucks will be, as well, watery while, in other case, will be hollow clucks but both canaries could be great champions, the choice of the line is just up to the personal preferences of the fancier. As I said there's in Spain a great demand for both lineages but lately are prefered bright and no watery repertoires, although this line needs some improvement because still has not reached the slowness of the watery one, mainly because we started with this more than 50 years ago and just 10 with the hollow and bright one. Myself and the judges Bouzo, Ecalle and Gomez del Cueto developed the beginning of both lineages, so I know exactly the way to proceed. The main rule is to remove from our birds the con! tinuous notes and harsh passages (piaus, chaus...) with a deep genetic work and a strict selective process.

© Joaquín M. Sandua
© Translated by Luis Sánchez


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