Border Pipes

Border pipes were never standardised and consequently while Southern English Border Pipes look like their northern cousins, they are much influenced by, and closer in sound to, the French Musette à Béchonnet and the Grande Cornemuse du Centre. A modern development, in other words, English Border Pipes tend to be in G, low D or low C, can be mouth or bellows blown, have up to four drones carried on the shoulder or across the chest, use half-closed fingering, and are nearly chromatic over a one and a half octave range.

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Border pipes in D by Jon Swayne. Border Pipes in Plumwood, plastic ivory mounts, silver ferrules. Bellows-blown. Border pipes by Dominic Allan. D pipes in damson with blackwood and boxwood mounts, G pipes in blackthorn with boxwood mounts. Border pipes is a generic term applied to bagpipes that have - usually - 3 drones in a common stock and a relatively loud “scottish type” chanter. They may be either bellows or mouth blown.

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Bellows-blown Lowland Pipes in A. Played in the North of England and the Lowlands of Scotland from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, Border Pipes are currently undergoing a renaissance. Quiet enough to play alongside other acoustic instruments but maintaining the characteristic skirl of the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), Border pipes are typically in A, are bellows-blown, have three drones set in a common stock which lie across the chest, have a nine note scale, and usually employ GHB fingering.

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Bagpipe Gallery Jan 0001

Estonian Torupill played by Sandra Sillamaa Matt Seattle, playing the border pipes Gaita, Valencia, Spain zampogna, Italy zampogna Marco Cignitti Cabrette players - Auvergne, France Yan Cozian et Martin Lassouque Lefteris Grigoriou Denise Quail “I was playing at the RSPCA Pirate Day in Derby! Blimey, did those poor dogs howl!” G pipes by Dominic Allan Julian Goodacre Julian Goodacre displays some of his pipes. Pitt museum Oxford Dominic Allan Dominic Allan demonstrates a set of his border pipes.

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Grace Notes Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

Since the last edition of Chanter, I have visited Glasgow and the National Piping Centre twice. This feels a bit like the arrival of the long awaited Number 64 bus — having not been to Scotland for over 30 years, I then have two forays north of the border within 3 months of each other. The two occasions were very different though. At the end of February I attended the bi-annual conference of the International Bagpipe Organisation (IBO) for the first time.

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This edition is from our archives, so it is presented as scanned pages rather than text. You may need to scroll to find the article you’re looking for.

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Calls and Responses Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

From time to time, Ian Clabburn (as the recipient of the website e-mail address) responds to questions sent in from members and non-members on a wide variety of piping issues. These can range from the simple “Where do I get a bagpipe from”, through to more complex style or technique related questions. Therefore, to relieve the pressure on Ian, I thought of opening this up to all members. Put in your call for help and hopefully a response from other members will follow!

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Lindisfarne Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

Columbus Folk Music Society annually puts on a weekend of free concerts, workshops and assorted exhibits, the Central Ohio Folk Festival. It’s a friendly local event, tucked away in a country park surrounded by forest a few miles out of town. Friends took me along to this May festival, and once parked, we strolled around, getting our bearings. Before we really knew where we were or what was going on, my bagpipe detectors began twitching and I dragged everybody in the direction of the performance stage.

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Blowout 2016 Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

3rd to 5th June Savage Prunes (concerts, Saturday, Sunday) In 2015, the Savage Prunes won the ‘Petites Formations’ competition at ‘Le Son Continu’ music festival, since when they have expanded into a trio. The group is particularly influenced by European folk, as well as baroque, Celtic, jazz, techno, and classical music. Callum Armstrong is an innovative piper whose questing approach to the hitherto unexplored acoustic possibilities of the smallpipe is taking the instrument into areas most of us have never encountered.

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Learning to Play Border Pipes Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

We have now started to post instructional videos on our YouTube channel, in response to a number of enquiries from novice pipers. I had a long discussion about format and content with Jeremy Cooper, who produced the excellent Blowout 2015 video, and we decided on a series of short tutorials covering the basics, such as bag inflation and pressure control, each being of only 5 or 6 minutes duration. One afternoon of filming produced the first eight, which were posted in November and we intend to start work on another batch soon.

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Making a Bagpipe Mar 2017 in Chanter 2017 Spring

Long ago when I decided I’d like to make myself a set of pipes I had no idea how to go about it. There were only a couple of books on the subject; Wilbert Garvin’s crash course in uilleann pipe making and Cocks and Bryan. Garvin is still worth getting although it was out of print for a few decades and became quite sought after. These days we are only a click away from a video of pretty much any part of the process but it has to said that it’s not all good practice.

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In the Bag: Callum Armstrong Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

Callum Armstrong is an experimental piper who enjoys exploring the possibilities of the pipes. He won the solo prize in 2014 and the ‘Petite Formation’ Prize in 2015 with Cellist George Pasca at the ‘Son Continu’ Festival in France. Callum has recently collaborated with Julian Goodacre to develop a smallpipe chanter with almost 3 octaves, and is currently working developing a technique for the ‘double Scottish smallpipe chanter. Amongst Callum’s current projects are learning and developing reeds for ancient auloi and learning the Musette de cour.

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Medieval Music in the Dales Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

2nd- 4th September 2016, Bolton Castle, Wensleydale - Box Office Now Open! Medieval Music in the Dales is the new medieval music festival being organized by medieval minstrels, Trouvere. Bagpipes are a really important part of the event and we are immensely grateful for the support of The Bagpipe Society, who are funding Danilo Turchetti (Musica Inspirata) to exhibit his magnificent medieval bagpipes at the festival. It was our first bit of funding and cheered us on enormously as we planned the event!

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