2010

A point of view Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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Bagpipe Carvings from Northern France Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

Like many members of the Bagpipe Society I find myself searching for representations of bagpipers whenever I have visited an old building. This has become a part of our holiday outings wherever we travel and borders on an obsession. Sadly the search is often fruitless or the piper so inaccessible that any chance a photographic record beyond my camera’s capability. This summer was different as the bagpipers were accessible and the camera up to the job.

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Billy Purvis, Union Piper Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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.

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End Drone Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

I guess I’ve long been attracted to the weirder fringes of bagpiping; but then, when it comes to weirdness, bagpiping itself must surely be regarded as being out there on the extreme edge of music – any sort of bagpiping. Consider: blowing into the skin of an animal in pursuit of music. Before starting, be sure to have a few lengths of wood arranged so they project out of the skin at odd angles.

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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).

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Itchy Fingers Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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Letters Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

Hi John, I hope all is well. I have been too busy getting married and honeymooned to know if I have missed the Chanter deadline… probably missed it by months…. so I am early for next one. Anyway here are some photos taken on June 19th of our wedding at Kinnersley Castle, Herefordshire - spot our President and various other known pipers. The Goodacre Brothers led the procession to our ceremony in the morning - John, Pete and John- Francis

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Processione Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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Review: Angles Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

It took me several minutes to track down the Angles CD for review – I eventually found it in my partner’s car. She admitted that whilst normally she would not listen to ‘bagpipe’ music for pleasure, for this CD she was making an exception! I first saw Angles live last year, and have seen them at a couple of gigs subsequently and found them to be eminently danceable to and very

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Review: The Pibgorn Tunebook by Keith Lewis Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

It is ten years now since I published my own collection of tunes aimed specifically at the Welsh piping community - Y Pibydd, 117 tunes for Welsh pipes - and that is long since out of print, so it is perhaps time for another. Into the breach steps Keith Lewis, Welsh bagpipe and pibgorn player and maker from the Swansea Valley with this collection of 95 Welsh tunes, mostly traditional but a handful by himself and piper Jane Ruel plus some others that have become firmly fixed in the Welsh traditional music scene.

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Starting Drone Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

Barbara Butler sent me an extract from an old (1984) copy of the Journal of the Institute of Biology concerning the uses of animal products in the Medieval period. As well as being generally quite interesting, bagpipes did get a mention under the section on animal bones: “Hollow mammalian long bones provide the perfect basis for flutes and pipes, and these were made into bagpipes by the addition of a wind reservoir, often made from the paunch of a sheep’s stomach, long before the Middle Ages.

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Stiltwalking Bagpipers Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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 of

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The Young May Moon Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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Tune number 2 Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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Wren Piping Hot Bagpipe Weekend Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

Back in March we had a fantastic weekend of Sardinian Launedas music, Irish piping and English pipes. Roberto Tangianu is a young virtuosic launedas player from Sardinia. He was taught the launedas by his grandfather and has been playing since he was a young boy. Over the weekend he gave various masterclasses and talks about the history and social uses of the launedas. It seems there are many types (he brought a case of them).

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miscellaneous Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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music modality Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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on the future of The Bagpipe Society Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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wedding Dec 2010 in Chanter 2010 Winter

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End Drone Sep 2010 in Chanter 2010 Autumn

‘I must be honest. I spent much of Leo Butler’s new play, specially commissioned by the RSC and set in 18th century Ireland, confused as to what was going on: not entirely the fault of the dramatist, or even my own density, but of a production by Ramin Gray so busy swathing the action in thunder and lightning, bagpipe and fiddle music that it smothers the actual language.’ – Michael Billington, reviewing I’ll Be The Devil, Tricycle Theatre, 28 February 2008

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Italian pipers in Wales Sep 2010 in Chanter 2010 Autumn

Two references to Italian bagpipers have been sent to me by Tony Laverick of The Lowland and Border Pipes’ Society. They are from Journal of a Country Curate. (Selections from the diary of Francis Kilvert 1870-1879) Published by The Folio Society 1977. Kilvert was the curate at Clyro in Radnorshire; a small village not far from Kinnersley, where Pat & I are getting married in June. Itinerant Italian Zampogna players were a common sight in the UK in the 19th century.

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This is Dave’s second book, following on from his first one - Drone Rage - reviewed here a few issues ago. Unlike the first it is virtually all traditional material except for one by John Kirkpatrick - ‘Bread and Jam Waltzer’ - and adding up to 72 tunes in total. At first glance I thought that you would have to have a set of Swaynes or similar to play them, but a closer perusal of the contents showed that about half were playable as written on single octave pipes and a few more with only slight modification as most pipers are familiar with doing.

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Review: Zoot Alors! Sep 2010 in Chanter 2010 Autumn

This CD seems to have been a long time coming - it seems ages ago that I downloaded a trio of rather nice demo tracks from their website. But on the whole, it’s been worth the wait. Zoot Alors! are essentially a dance band in the French mode doing much as you would expect such a band to do and this is exactly what you get on the CD. The band are our very own Ian Clabburn on bagpipes and whistles, John Garner on melodeon, Steve Spencer-Jowett on GHB in brass to resist insect attack, made for an Indian Maharajah by Thomas Macbean Glen of Edinburgh, c.

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Starting Drone Sep 2010 in Chanter 2010 Autumn

There has been some discussion recently amongst the Bagpipe Society committee about the state of the Society and just where we go from here. This was initiated by Andy letcher - “The problem, as I see it, is that the BS is failing to live up to it’s purpose, which is to support and promote bagpiping in Britain. Thus while the number of people playing the pipes is clearly increasing (as evidenced by the number of makers) Society membership remains steady, and steadily greying.

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The First Ramsgate Buzz Sep 2010 in Chanter 2010 Autumn

As we walked through Ramsgate on Saturday morning, a strange man leant out of the window of his van and said “You’re going the wrong way”. Spooky. I thought that God had a beard. And by the time we had walked the right way for 10 minutes, there he was again. “2 in the front and 1 in the back”, he commanded as we were abducted. Well done Kai, we’d still have been walking at lunchtime.

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