In the Autumn 2010 issue of Chanter Julian Goodacre drew our attention to a couple of previously unspotted entries in the nineteenth century diary of the Reverend Francis Kilvert describing Italian bagpipers turning up in his parish near Hay-on-Wye in the Welsh Marches: in July 1872 he writes of a “wild swarthy Italian-looking man, young, with a steeple-crowned hat, and full of uncouth cries and strange outland words” (Plomer, 1938: 375) playing his pipes to the delight of a group of dancing children, whilst on Midsummer’s day the following year he records hearing the “drone of the Italian bagpipes advancing” before “two men … came playing through the village” (Plomer, 1939: 217).Read more »
Easy access to a variety of large online historical databases allied to simple keyword search facilities is beginning to revolutionise our understanding of the musical past. A particularly splendid example of the results that can be achieved using these resources is David Lasocki’s exhaustive work on early flute makers identified mainly through eighteenth century classified newspaper advertisements (Lasocki, 2010). Similarly, a recent article in The Strad records the previously unknown criminal history of Lockey Hill, a member of the famous English violin making family, gleaned from the online proceedings of the Old Bailey (Nex, 2010).Read more »
My wife recently drew my attention to an article in The Guardian (8th November, 2010, G2 section) with the intriguing title “Shocking news from Oxford: You can’t play a flute with your bottom”. The story reported on how “a team of musicologists, craftsmen and academics” from the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments in Oxford had attempted to make “exact replicas” of the instruments depicted in the right-hand panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights (c.Read more »
Without wanting to enter into the discussion of the Irishness of the Union pipes raised by David Ward (Chanter Winter 2005), I would like to correct a small mistake in Dirk Campbell’s response to him (Chanter, Spring 2006). The source of the mistake, however, does not appear to lie with Dirk but with the generally outstanding Folk Archive Resource North East (FARNE) website. His article is illustrated with the splendid engraving from the FARNE archive of William (Billy) Purvis (1784-1853) playing the Union pipes.Read more »
Some readers may be familiar with the following image. It appears, for example, in George Charlton’s The Northumbrian Bag-Pipes (1930) where he describes it inconsistently as from both “an early eighteenth century broadside” (p. 140) and “a political squib from the [nineteenth century which] shows the Duke of Northumberland’s piper” (p. 141)1. That the piper is meant to be associated with the Duke is clearly indicated by the Percy crescent on his forearm; the same crescent which is seen in depictions of the notorious Northumbrian gypsy piper James Allan (1734-1810).Read more »
I’m not sure where I found the following image but thought readers might be interested in it. I am pretty certain it is a Belgian trade card (for starch) dating around 1890. Depicted is a bagpiping shepherd from the Landes region of Gascony; although why he should be associated with selling starch is unclear. Presumably the pipes are meant to represent a boha, the traditional cornemuse landaise. Today the Landes largely consists ofRead more »
Abraham Bloemaert’s (1566-1651) The Bagpipe Player (Fig. 1) (now in the Residenzgalerie, Salzburg) was painted in Utrecht somewhere between 1625 and 1630 (Roethlisberger, 1993: 267). As one of the most arresting images of a piper and his pipes, it is not surprising that it has been subjected to a good deal of attention in the bagpipe literature. Askew (1931) and Cheape (1994), for example, have particularly emphasised its influence on later representations of bagpipes, an influence which can be felt over more than a couple of centuries; this is a subject to which I intend to return in a later paper.Read more »
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