Back in 2012 I had a crazy idea - let’s run a workshop weekend at Halsway Manor for the nyckelharpa, an instrument not many people had heard of. I’ve built this up from a small weekend of eight participants to a large one of 45. Then last year I had another crazy idea - I’d run a säckpipa weekend at Halsway Manor. I’m pretty sure I know how many there are of us that play säckpipa in the UK and it’s not many.Read more »
The Barley Skimmers is book of 40 original tunes written for pipes. The tunes are all written out in the usual Highland style of A with no key signature. I’ve been using a key signature for my pipe tunes for many years now, but this is standard practice for Highland pipe music. I assumed that these tunes would be lovely on the Scottish smallpipes so of course the first thing I decided to do was to see how they would fare on my G border pipes.Read more »
Bla Bergens Borduner — Inga Konstigheter There aren’t many CDs that show case the Swedish säckpipa and this album is an absolute gem. Bla Bergens Borduner translates as “The Blue Mountain Drones” and the album name translates as “No Funny Business” or maybe “No Strangeness”. The group originally were originally active between 1984 and 1995 and have come back together again to release this new album. There are only eleven säckpipa players who have been awarded the prestigious title of Riksspelman by the Zorn jury in Sweden and this group contains two of them: Anders Norrude and Ulf Karlsson.Read more »
Piccola Banda di Cornamuse is a band of 11 musicians from Italy. This is their seasonal Christmas offering. It is undoubtedly a Christmas album, but one that has been wonderfully put together and deserves to be played at any time of the year. Although most of the tracks are about the birth of Christ, it is definitely not an album of Christmas carols. The first track, La Passion/Les trots Anges, opens deliciously with solo musette and organ playing a tune from Bourbonnais in France.Read more »
This was an eagerly awaited album, Callum Armstrong on pipes, George Pasca on Cello and John-Francis Goodacre on Fiddle. I’d previously heard Callum perform with George and I was looking forward to finding out where the journey had taken them. The EP itself consists of seven tracks, beautifully recorded with each instrument in its place without overpowering the other. The first track Hamish The Hellhound shows you exactly what you can expect over the next 32 minutes: bagpipes with attitude.Read more »
As told to Andy Letcher Vicki studied at the Royal College of Music on the double bass and took up the pipes just after leaving music college. For her master’s degree she chose to ignore any good advice and ploughed her own path by teaching the smallpipes using podcasting, developing a teaching pedagogy she now also applies to the nyckelharpa. You’ll now find Vicki inhabiting the troll ridden forests playing her Swedish bagpipes, bagging tunes for new books.Read more »
I can’t actually remember when I discovered the existence of the Swedish bagpipes. I wish I could and I wish I could say it was a defining moment. It’s the same with the nyckelharpa – these are instruments that I have always known about, in some small corner of my memory somewhere they have always existed. It was finding out that Olle Gällmo and Erik Ask-Upmark were going to be at the Blowout in 2013 that really prompted me to get a set of Swedish Bagpipes.Read more »
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