Merryweather, James

Pipes at the Ready Jun 2015 in Chanter 2015 Summer

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery has a fine collection of bagpipes the importance of which, I suspect, is generally underestimated. There are Highland Pipes, Scottish Smallpipes and Union Pipes, some complete and others fragmentary. Among the oddments are the three bagless, chanterless drones that so intriguingly resemble those on Geordie Syme’s bagpipe (see Chanter, Winter 2003, 12-13). The Union Bagpipes interested me most when I examined the collection of items not on display, because of the quality of the Inverness specimens and the instrument’s patchily understood history and evident importance in the music of England, Scotland and Ireland.

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On historical references Dec 2013 in Chanter 2013 Winter

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I found a little nut tree lurking in the bag Sep 2011 in Chanter 2011 Autumn

Many years ago my late friend Columba and I noticed the similarity of Playford’s An Italian Rant1 and the River Vltava theme in Smetana’s Ma Vlast2 Intrigued, we kept ears open for additional concordances and soon found a few more, including the Flemish popular song Ik zag Cecilia komen eenen watergank, which occurs in several editions we bought in Bruges that published assorted variants. After Columba died I continued the search, partly on her behalf, stringing the best of our discoveries into a suite I called Out of Italy to perform on renaissance bagpipes as a painless history-of-music lesson for audiences.

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The headline is alarming, but until modern times the disease Dupuytren’s Contracture cold be thoroughly debilitating, and as far as a vocational bagpiper was concerned it might as well have been fatal. It is said that every generation of MacCrimmon – hereditary bagpip- ers at the court of Macleod in Dunvegan, Isle of Skye – fell victim to curling fingers that eventually prevented them from following their family calling; forced them into early retirement and, some say, extinction.

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Bagpipe iconography Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

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Lament for the Bluebells Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

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Letters Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

Gorhemmynadow dhiworth Kernow! We have at last made our CD of pipes and drums (gaita and bombarde - not the reconstructed Cornish pipes, gav dhymm!) and thought that our Celtic cousins might be interested… Tracks Cor Elath Wondrous Works/ Daniel Cooper/ Silver Buttons/ Woolly Monkey An Culyek Hos Joel’s Tune/ An Ahwesyth An Morladron/ Nancledra/ Tom Bawcock’s Fly Cellar/ Hevva Turning of the Tide/ Pencarrow/ We all Stepped Out/ Carmela

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Rhoddie Bashin' Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

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Rhododendron ponticum Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

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The Rhoddiepipes – a use for rhododendron wood Mar 2010 in Chanter 2010 Spring

THE RHODDIEPIPES An Ironic Bagpipes Project by James Merryweather As far as we know, nobody has ever attempted to make bagpipes from rhododendron timber. It has now been done – and why not? The result is a basic Scottish/Border smallpipe in D, with D and A/G drones. It also has an alternative A chanter. The timber is locally sourced rhododendron with black buffalo horn mounts. The tone is scrumptious, a mix of Northumbrian and Hamish Moore pipes.

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A point of view Jun 2009 in Chanter 2009 Summer

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The term Aposiopesis Mar 2007 in Chanter 2007 Spring

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The Musical club 1772 Jun 2006 in Chanter 2006 Summer

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Historic bagpipe references Dec 2005 in Chanter 2005 Winter

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bagpipes and sheep Sep 2005 in Chanter 2005 Autumn

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Nymphs & Shepherds get Away Jun 2005 in Chanter 2005 Summer

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Letters Mar 2005 in Chanter 2005 Spring

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On Grogan the Gentleman piper Mar 2004 in Chanter 2004 Spring

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Geordie Syme's Drones? Dec 2003 in Chanter 2003 Winter

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Ceol Na Pioba – Piob Mhor by various artists Jun 2002 in Chanter 2002 Summer

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Issues of accuracy Jun 2002 in Chanter 2002 Summer

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History or Bunk? Sep 2001 in Chanter 2001 Autumn

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