Discovering Barcelona through Music

Just a few cords on a keyboard. Then, a simple bass line. A few beats later, the satin voice of the singer; in the background, finger snaps provide tempo as the measures build and the music becomes fuller. By the time percussion enters, there’s no way my body can remain still.

That song, “Closer” from Izah’s album Now or Never, will forever conjure Barcelona.

Exploring Barcelona on Foot

A new city; a day to wander. Naturally, I picked a pedestrian-friendly route that included an interesting museum. After a short stroll through La Rambla, I window shopped along Barcelona’s fashion district and gawked at Gaudi’s La Pedrera before arriving at the Palau Robert on Passeig de Gracia.

sidewalk tiles in Barcelona
Beautiful Barcelona: sidewalk tiles. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

“Palau” means “palace,” and this neoclassical building was once home to the marquis de Robert. Since 1981, the building has belonged to the Catalan government; now, it functions as the Catalan Center for Information and hosts changing seasonal exhibits.

On that beautifully crisp November day, I was curious. What would the palace look like? The grounds, I’d read, were a serenely lovely oasis in the busy city, and I’m a sucker for a good garden. The photography exhibits intrigued me. Lots to see, it seemed.

As it turned out, Palau Robert was full of things to hear.

Influential Women of Spanish Music

Pink signs at the Palau Robert announcing "D'ones" ex
Artwork at the Palau Robert for “D’ones” exhibit.

After wandering the museum’s first floor, I climbed the stairs. My eyes were immediately draw downward; under my feet, the second-floor entrance was paved with sheet music. Inside, I discovered an interactive exhibit of listening stations devoted to Spain’s notable female musicians: “D’one.”

Sheet music paves the exhibit entrance at the Palau Robert in Barcelona
Exhibit entrance paved with sheet music at the Palau Robert in Barcelona.

It took me a while to fully settle into the experience. I started with classical and instrumental music, self-consciously taking one of the ornate, upholstered chairs and slipping on headphones. Before long, I’d forgotten anyone else was there. Flitting from song to song, I delighted in the wide-ranging performances.

Touch pad screens and upholstered chairs at the Palau Robert exhibit "D'Ones" in Barcelona

Each of the ten “style areas” was arranged around a specific genre or style: folk, rock, punk, classical–all sorts of music. Decoratively displayed information on walls and touch screens set the stage by providing background, explaining “significant milestones in history of Catalan music from a female perspective.”

Singer on large screen music stands with artist bios at the Palau Robert exhibit "D'One"
Stands and screens; classic music display.

As I listened to the beautiful strains of “Contigo” by Wadalupe, I had an idea: why not  search for and download the music I liked? Until my phone battery began to die, the museum tour became a two-screen experience: listen, search, save.

When I discovered Izah and “Closer,” I couldn’t help dancing. Blushing, I scanned the room to see who’d caught me. My neighbor swayed, lost in her music. Our eyes met; we smiled sheepishly; I gleefully pushed “play” again and danced some more.

Hours passed. The exhibit included more than 1,000 songs; while I’m sure I didn’t get to every one, I listened to a very large sampling. Those that struck a chord formed my “Sounds of Barcelona” playlist.

In the hotel room room that evening, my new playlist provided background music as we sipped wine and readied for a night out. Now, whenever I want to revisit Barcelona, I push “play,” close my eyes, and listen.

More about Barcelona

Architect Antoni Gaudi Casa Mila La Pedrera in Barcelona
Casa Mila, or La Pedrera

Palau Robert

La Rambla

Casa Mila, known as La Pedrera

“D’ONES: Women’s (r)evolution in music” (Nov. 2017–April 2018 exhibit)

“Sounds of Barcelona” playlist



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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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