Northumbrian Smallpipes

Alongside the Great Highland Bagpipe, NSPs are the other pipes that most people have usually heard about. Unique amongst British bagpipes in having a chanter that is closed at one end, and related to the French Musette de Cour from which it probably derives, NSPs have a characteristic staccato sound and remain strongly rooted in the music and traditions of the North-East of England. Played with closed fingering (only one sound hole uncovered at a time), NSPs are bellows blown, have up to four drones worn across the chest, and employ a number of keys to extend the range and to enable accidentals.

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Let me start by admitting that I’ve never been a big fan of the Northumbrian smallpipes - and I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the staccato style of playing resulting from the closed fingering, or maybe it’s the style of music that I can’t get along with. Then again it may just be psychological - me being a Middlesbrough lad and despite the Borough being distinctly part of the North East, being brought up constantly being told you’re not a proper Geordie… Well anyway, apart from a few albums by Pauline Cato and a compilation album of old stuff - Billy Pigg, Forster Charlton and the like my collection of piping CDs is particularly lacking in Northumbrian smallpipes.

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Review: The Grand Chain by Alistair Anderson Jun 1989 in Chanter 1989 Summer

This edition is from our archives, so it is presented as scanned pages rather than text.

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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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This edition is from our archives, so it is presented as scanned pages rather than text.

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The development of the Northumbrian Smallpipes Mar 1987 in Chanter 1987 Spring

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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Putting Bagpipes on the Map Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

At the International Bagpipe Conference in Glasgow Feb 26 28 Pete Stewart and Julian Goodacre officially launched a new website http://www.thebagpipemap.co.uk . Julian writes: I started making English pipes in 1983. Apart from the Northumbrian pipes, there was no living tradition of piping in England at that time, and no actual English bagpipes had survived, so the best I could do was to develop pipes that were based on looking at surviving early carvings, paintings, illustrations and other depictions of bagpipes in England.

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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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Cabrette Tuning Yet Again... Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

It’s good to see the subject of tuning and scales capturing the interest of members, because it’s a subject hard to understand and therefore not well understood. So I was fascinated to turn to Ray Brown’s thoughts on the tuning of the Cabrette in the Winter 2015 edition of Chanter, the third response to Ian Clabburn’s original article in Chanter of Summer 2014. Ray covered a wide range of topics and raised a large number of questions.

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