2016

BagDressingBellowsBlown.

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Grace Notes Nov 2016 in Chanter 2016 Winter

Welcome to another edition of Chanter – the last in the Society’s 30th anniversary year. As we approach the end of 2016, I think the Society can look back with a degree of satisfaction as to what it has achieved over this period but also look forward to many more years of making a positive contribution to the world of bagpipes and bagpipers. In 2016 the Society has given financial support to various initiatives and this Chanter includes reports from two events which have benefitted.

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Grace Notes Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

Any comments from me will be short and sweet this quarter as this is another packed edition of Chanter with little room for superfluous words. An excellent state of affairs! I’m particularly pleased that, after a long absence, this edition contains a number of tunes, both old and new. The 30th Anniversary of The Bagpipe Society was celebrated at the Blowout with a tune competition and there was a plethora of excellent entries from Society members, a couple of which are reproduced here.

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Tools of the Trade Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

I first encountered bellows smallpipes in the late 80s at the Holmfirth Folk Festival. On the Saturday there was an open stage bagpipe event. The variety wasn’t on the scale of The Blow Out, but this was my introduction to one of the main bagpipes of the British Islands. Among the Northumbrian, Union, and Highland pipes, someone was playing a set of highland fingered smallpipes. I fell in love with the open, almost Northumbrian type sound, and the fingering was the same as I had learned as an eight year old at my local pipe band in Port Glasgow.

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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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Grace Notes, Spring 2016 Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

This is a celebratory year for The Bagpipe Society – it’s 30 years old! Further inside, Ian Clabburn, the Chairman, gives details of just one of the ways this event is going to be marked. With this anniversary in mind, it is particularly poignant that we received the sad news that the Society’s co-founder, Dave VanDoorn, died recently. It was Dave who first started producing a regular newsletter which, over time, morphed into Chanter.

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Calls and Responses Nov 2016 in Chanter 2016 Winter

Call Looking at medieval images I’ve seen both bellows (being used to start a fire) and bagpipes, but no examples of the bellows being attached to the bagpipes. Please can someone tell the earliest known evidence of the use of bellows to power the bagpipes? Elizabeth Armstrong Call What happens in very shallow tapering cones, where the taper is measurable but almost imperceptible? Does any amount of conicality, no matter how small, flip the one into the other?

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30th Anniversary Tune Competition Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

The Friday night competition at this year’s Blowout (reviewed by George Featherston later) was to submit a tune to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Bagpipe Society. There was a particularly strong entry and the eventual winner was Tim Gleaves with the Quebec Mazurka. He was presented with a commemorative dish which had been designed and made by Society member Liz Teall. http://www.lizteallpottery.com (See photo with Blowout report)

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Cabrette Tuning - Yet Again! Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

Firstly, may I thank Jon Swayne for taking the trouble to reply to my scribblings on this topic. I am grateful to read something written with authority rather than from a point of ignorance (like mine!). Really, mine was just a series of thoughts and questions put down in the hope of getting some insight which I think Jon has provided. I would also like to apologise for the sloppy use of the term “Just Intonation” when I should have used a term which did not have a technical meaning.

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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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It's not all hot air Nov 2016 in Chanter 2016 Winter

I have now been playing the bagpipes for almost 60 years. I first became interested in the medical aspects of piping at medical school and later had the opportunity to research the physiological aspects at the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine. There is an old joke that pipers march up and down because it is harder to hit a moving target. Whilst that may, or may not, be true, there is a physiological benefit to marching in this way.

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Insurance Offer Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

New Moon Insurance are offering Bagpipe Society members a discount on their musical instrument insurance. They are specialists in instrument insurance and work alongside a number of music retailers in the UK as well as with many associations and societies. Members who have used the codes (below) have been able to gain savings over their current insurer’s renewal price. Their website is at http://www.newmooninsurance.com and their phone number is 01892 506884.

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What’s in a name Jul 2016 in Chanter 2016 Summer

You may remember in the Winter 2014 Chanter, I reported that there was an online petition to protest about the proposed change of name to the Boha. At the IBO Conference Yan Crozian and Jean Michel Espinasse explained the background to the issue and below is an abbreviation of their talk. — Editor. Occitan The word, boha, is an Occitan word, which comes from the verb “to blow”.

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From the Chairman Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

Happy Birthday to us! The inaugural meeting of the Bagpipe Society was held at the Faculty of Music, Oxford University, on December 1st, 1985, so we are officially 30 years old. It was at this meeting that Jon Swayne became Honorary President (for 5 years, apparently) and Dave VanDoorn became Secretary. This single word description vastly understates Dave’s role in establishing The Bagpipe Society and setting its ethos - a deep love and respect for all aspects of the bagpipe, leavened with more than a touch of good humoured irreverence.

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Beware Bagpipe Lung Nov 2016 in Chanter 2016 Winter

It all started off quietly: I received an email from the medical correspondent at USA Today, seeking my response to an article in the medical journal Thorax (22.08.2016) about a previously unidentified condition labelled as Bagpipe Lung which described the case of a lifelong highland piper who developed an ultimately fatal inflammation of the lung caused by an immunological response to inhaled antigens, a number of which were identified as being present in his bagpipes.

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From the Chair Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

One reason why the Bagpipe Society continues to flourish after 30 years is the energy and enthusiasm of the Society’s committee. Since the very start, we have been fortunate to have a committee that willingly devotes large amounts of time and talent to establishing and continuing the high standards we have come to expect. This year there have been some changes: after many years as membership secretary and treasurer, Michael Ross is standing down from the committee.

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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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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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Medieval Music in the Dales Nov 2016 in Chanter 2016 Winter

Medieval Music in the Dales is a new festival of medieval music, taking place each September at Bolton Castle in Wensleydale. 2016 was our first time out, and we were really grateful to get funding from The Bagpipe Society to support our efforts. In fact it was our first tranche of funding and gave us a great feeling of encouragement! The weekend featured concerts, workshops, open stages and – a crucial part of the event – an exhibition by instrument makers.

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You’re never too old ... (part 2) Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

As a Franciscan Friar I am often seen in Canterbury in my habit, but as yet not playing my pipes, people would think ‘what on earth is that tune he is murdering’ or ‘another busker trying the medieval costume approach’. Ray Brown’s article in the last ‘Chanter’ forced me to get typing. A lot of his story I could identify with but above all, he is enjoying the challenge and so am I.

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On Saturday morning, just as people were arriving, Thodoris, one of the volunteers, walked up to me and whispered: “Wow! I had no idea Andy Letcher was such a rock star!” This is what the International Bagpipe Conference is about: putting faces to names (sometimes they look like proper rock stars), meeting new people, creating contacts and having a piping time. This year’s International Bagpipe Conference was held at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow.

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Dave VanDoorne Remembered Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

Dave was a founder member of the Bagpipe Society who passed away in December. His contribution to the English Bagpipe Revival, especially in the early days cannot be overestimated, as can be seen in these reminiscences: My first encounter with Dave VanDoorn was in characteristically surreal surroundings. It was the inaugural meeting of (what was then known as) the “English Bagpipe Society” in December 1985. Although I can recall few details of the meeting itself, I have a vivid memory of us going through the galleries of the Pitt-Rivers museum afterwards and gazing at the shrunken heads.

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Blowout 2016 Aug 2016 in Chanter 2016 Autumn

Of course, we’re on familiar ground, indeed literally, in the case of some of our tents, but it’s no bad thing for so much about the Blowout to be much the same. As top-rank Irish piper Liam Og O’Flynn said on that BBC Scotland programme, ‘in piping you’re part of a tradition, and that’s a comfortable place to be’. But no living tradition can be just about doing the same old things, and the Blowout shows how things are also moving forward.

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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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We are settling into our new website, including making available articles from our thirty year history. If you spot something inaccurate, garbled or missing, or if you want to volunteer to help us improve our site, please mail info@bagpipesociety.

Website by Joe Wass, managed by Ian Clabburn.

Website content by Andy Letcher.

All articles copyright their respective authors.

Enquiries to info@bagpipesociety.org.uk

Membership enquiries to membership@bagpipesociety.org.uk