Grace Notes: Bagpipes in the Media

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I don’t know about you but I’m feeling really quite positive about the way bagpipes are now being reported in the media. Yes, they are still first and foremost associated with Scotland and they will always, no doubt, be the butt of a few jokes (the poor viola and banjo likewise suffer the same fate) but I think attitudes and approaches are slowly changing. In only 3 years, International Bagpipe Day has helped raise the profile of bagpipes and provided a focused vehicle for demonstrating the breadth and variety of the different types of bagpipes and their associated cultures. Around the same time as IBD in March, there was a programme on BBC2 Scotland, fronted by Phil Cunningham, which gave a refreshingly intelligent approach to the various bagpiping traditions. In England I think we can say that we are well and truly down the path of re-establishing a bagpipe playing tradition even if the music being played isn’t traditionally English! However, it is interesting to read about bagpipes that are still being revived such as the torupill in Estonia and the way that the ney-anban in Iraq has become part of cultural survival against oppression. Likewise the homeland of the zampogna, which has a long, unbroken tradition, is fighting to survive in its remote hill top heartland. All of these feature in this edition of Chanter. Research has always been integral to understanding an instrument and its history and there is always something new to be discovered as shown in articles by James Merryweather and Eric Montbel. Discovering the past helps to promote the future and I hope that you find something to interest and engage you in this edition of Chanter.

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