Band Profile: The Barbarian Pipe Band

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This is another of those ‘tribal’ type pipe bands very much in the image of, for example, Saor Patrol, as reviewed in the last edition of Chanter. They are all cast very much in the mould created by such bands as Corvus Corax and Schelmish - a kind of heavy metal mock medieval style almost certainly with very few authentic early music credentials but with a power, enthusiasm and dramaticisation very appealing to twenty first century popular notions of medieval times. This type of band seem to be cropping up all over the place now and the Barbarian Pipe Band fill another blank space on the map - hailing from Piedmont in the shadow of West of the Alps. According to their website - http://www.barbarianpipeband.com - they perform a mixed repertoire of traditional Scottish, German, Occitanian and Piedmontese music plus their own compositions. As the picture above shows they are basically three pipers and two drummers - Tuak on medieval piva, Highland pipes, piva Piemontese and zampogna; Diabolus in Musica VII-m (a bit of a mouthfull, that!) on medieval and Highland pipes, flutes, bombards and tamorra; Devsko on medieval and Highland pipes, piva Piemontese, zampogna and bombards; Madrasko on tenor drum, nakers, tromba marina plus storytelling; Clarinzia, the one female in the group, on duval which would appear to be a bass drum. Again, according to their website they perform in costume from the 1300s - 1400s. How authentic that is I can’t say but it would appear that in those days pipers always performed stripped to the waist… They have 3 CDs available on their website - ‘Rota’ from 2008, ‘Fosfeni - Spiritica Fosfenica Sonatica’ from 2005 and ‘Sacra Losna’ from 2004. And what, you might ask is the music like? - well you can hear quite a lot on the website and better still, quite a lot of it is downloadable for free - two tracks from each of the later CDs and the oldest CD in it’s entirety. This is quite interesting as there is an obvious progression in quality through the years with the two tracks from ‘Rota’ - Tarantarmoricana and Mitdans - being as good as anything you’ll find from this kind of band. ‘Sacra Losna’ on the other hand is more than a little rough around the edges with noticeably poorer quality drumming and piping. The track ‘Mairi’s Wedding’ sounds particularly strange and unauthentic! With music of this type there is almost certain to be a lot of crossover with other bands - there is after all a limited amount of early pipeable music to go round. ‘Mitdans’ for example is one of Corvus Corax’s standards (Mit Dans is all die werlt genesen - from the Gaudia Vite live album). You can also judge their live performances for yourself as there are loads of videos of them on Youtube performing at medieval fairs and on stage in rock type concerts. I have to say their live performances seem pretty good to me. There is also a lot of their musical collaborations with other musicians and remixes of their work available to download from their website but I have to say most of it wasn’t exactly to my taste - they’re better taken neat! You might catch them live at medieval festivals throughout Italy and Europe in general or even here in the UK. Check out their gigs page on their website.

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