Starting Drone

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Having been praised at the AGM for keeping the costs of producing Chanter down, including saving money on postage by keeping it within the 100g limit for a standard 2nd class letter - I’ve kind of blown it with this issue, having found myself with rather more contributions than I’m used to! So please enjoy this bumper sized edition, and keep those contributions coming in…

At the moment I’m looking forward to the Christmas period, for a bit of Morris dancing and of course it is our season for going around with the Mari Lwyd. For those of you who don’t know, this is a traditional Welsh custom involving paying visits to houses / pubs with a horses skull mounted on a pole and including a mechanism for operating the jaw, the bearer being concealed beneath a white sheet. The Welsh custom involves a singing contest to gain admittance but we usually neglect this bit these days and use the Mari as a somewhat spooky Morris beast. Although we consider the Mari a peculiarly Welsh custom, it seems that at one time it was widespread throughout England and elsewhere in Europe - actually Phil Edwards a while back posted a picture of one in Greece up on Facebook. I believe it’s still in practice in South Yorkshire / North Derbyshire as well as part of the Antrobus Soulers mummers play. There’s a good article on all this plus how to make one at: http://www.ancientmusic.co.uk/mast_article.html

For a good evening out you could try Chepstow on the 21st of January where there will be several Mari Lwyds gathering plus a lot of Morris dancing and Wassailing. Oh yes, and a bit of Welsh piping thrown in for good measure!

International Bagpipe Day on March the 10th is beginning to look like it could be very interesting. Cassandre, who is organising the SOAS conference has asked me to appeal for Bagsoc. members in the London area who would be willing to accommodate speakers or performers. You can contact Cassandre at: cassandre.balbar@voila.fr

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