I headed to my first ever Pipers’ Gathering simply hoping for a chance to try my hand at Scottish smallpipes. I’ve played the highland pipes since my teens but now, as a retiree, I hope to share my love of this music by playing an instrument that can be played indoors and with other instruments. Also, I wondered if playing a bellows-blown instrument would enable me sing with my pipes. In every way, the Pipers’ Gathering far exceeded my expectations.Read more »
To mark our 30th anniversary, the society is getting a new website. You’ll find information about bagpipes, the society, and the complete archive of everything we’ve published since our founding. If all goes to plan, the site will have launched by the time Chanter goes to press. Chanter Online In addition to the paper copy, members will now be able to read new editions of Chanter directly on the website.Read more »
The Dudá belongs to the national cultural heritage of Belarus and it takes a notable place among the other bagpipes of Europe. Belarusian Dudar. Vilna region, 1905 It has a long history, which goes back in time to the period of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Samogitia. The territory of that former Eastern European state, along with its political situation, shaped the area where this musical instrument was spread.Read more »
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.Read more »
The Kaba Gaida is a low pitched bagpipe which can be found in the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. It is a typical representative of the Gaida family and possesses all the characteristics - single drone, wooden chanter, flea hole, goat skin bag and a tube reed from elder, cane with a tongue, tight fingering style (each note is played by lifting only one finger). 60 years ago, the Kaba Gaida was not much different from the other gaidas (called Djura) in the region - high pitched, round chanters with horn at the end.Read more »
A casual visitor to the Bate Collection, University of Oxford, would probably be overwhelmed by the vast number of musical instruments that form the permanent display. There are over 2000 items in the Collection, including an array of orchestral woodwind, brass, some strings and percussion. The instruments exist as an evolutionary display, arranged to demonstrate the various technical changes through the many years of instrument development. A bagpipe person might rightly feel a little disappointed that bagpipes, as a classification of instruments, have so little representation in the Collection.Read more »
With the new website comes the long-awaited Members Directory. This is a directory of all members who tick the box entitled “Include me on Membership List”. At time of publication 130 members (the majority) have ticked this box and will be included on the list. How to find it Click ‘Members’ at the top of the website, then ‘Member directory’. Privacy The Members’ Directory will be available to members only, so your details won’t be available to the public or included in any search engines.Read more »
Austria is known throughout the world mostly for the music of Wolfgang A. Mozart, “Silent Night” and “The Sound of Music” (although I have to reveal at this point that hardly anyone has seen the film here). Little is it known to most bagpipers in the world that Austria, too, has had and continues to have a story of piping, and an interesting one at that. The Austria the world knows today is actually a quite young country and consists of only a small part of what was once the Habsburg Empire (which throughout history was commonly labelled as “Austria”) and thus part of the greater Holy Roman Empire.Read more »
Despite centuries of proliferation and cultural adaptation, Europe’s bagpiping traditions have seldom been appreciated collectively as a pan- European cultural asset. Nor are they widely seen, and usually only in isolation. I blame the Renaissance. That was when aristocratic patronage began installing a “classical” musical style based on costly, pitch-perfect, fragile and non-portable instruments, courtly ensembles and salon aesthetics. Composed scores and musical theory ousted oral tradition. Drones were dropped and music became a showcase of prosperity.Read more »
The Edinburgh müsa is a wonderful instrument. There’s a reason why I have dedicated much attention to: it is probably the best surviving exemplar of this type of bagpipe which is specific to a small region in Northern Italy called “Quattro Province”. Fine moduloSo, it was a truly exciting opportunity to see it, measure it, and make a comparison with her ‘sisters’ in Italy. Without exception, the Edinburgh instrument shows all the distinctive features which single the müsa out from all other bagpipes – and these are summarised at the end of the article.Read more »
Fig 1 This short article has been in gestation for over fifteen years and relates to a corbel in the form of a bagpiper which was offered for sale by Sotheby’s at the saleroom they used to run at Billingshurst, Sussex. The sale was of ‘Garden, Architectural and Fossil Decoration’ and took place on 20th September 2005. The item in question was lot 205. The corbel which is known to date from 1814 (see Fig 1 consists of just the head and shoulders of a bagpiper.Read more »
Cvetelin Andreev has been playing the Rhodopean Kaba Gaida since 2005. Since then the gaida is always in his hands, mind and heart. He now performs at concerts, festivals, weddings and events and has playing with world-famous musicians such as Carlos Nunes and Theodosii Spassov. He began teaching the kaba gaida in 2010 to bothadults and kids. He founded http://www.kabagaida.com - a platform for kaba gaida online. Besides music, Cvetelin has been involved in technology startups since 2003 year acting as founder, partner and occasionally Java Full Stack software developer.Read more »
Attentive readers will remember that, three years ago, my wife and I went on holiday to Crete, and there, by a stroke of luck, were able to track down the elusive askomandoura: the Cretan tsabouna. This autumn, rain-sodden and worn down by the relentlessly dull summer, we returned. Crete is a wonderful holiday destination. Arid and mountainous, it has fine weather, even in October. The food is glorious. It’s exotic enough to seem ‘other’ but still European enough for you to feel like you’re on vacation.Read more »
August of this year saw the 18th iteration of the Pipers’ Gathering—for its third year at the Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut. Some 70 participants came together to enjoy a weekend of piping and other music-making, workshops and concerts. Piping Instructors/Performers in 2016 included: Scottish smallpipes—Iain MacInnes (Scotland), Barry Shears (Cape Breton, Canada) and Chris Gray (US) Uilleann pipes—Brian McNamara (Ireland), Benedict Koehler (US) and Chris Gray (US) Northumbrian smallpipes—Bill Wakefield (US) Border pipes—Will Woodson (US) And because pipes and their music don’t exist in solitary, the Gathering also hosts workshops and lessons on other, “complementary” instruments such as whistle, flute, fiddle, and fretted instruments (guitar, bouzouki and the like).Read more »
Reflections on changes in the piping world since the foundation of the Society While browsing the archives of the Society for material for this article, I came across a review by Paul James of the 1986 edition of the Rencontres de Luthiers et Maitres-Sonneurs at St Chartier, a festival almost universally referred to, even now, simply as ‘St Chartier’ (as any fule kno). It is now of course re-located by five kilometres or so to Chateau d’Ars and under the direction of the organisation, Le Son Continu.Read more »
Much has been written about the story of this fascinating instrument and last year’s Blowout heard it being played by leading maker and practitioner, Robert Matta. This raised a lot of interest in an instrument which is still - surprisingly - relatively unknown in the UK and has featured only once before at the Blowout - by Yan Cozian in 2002 (how time flies!). Looking for a single reeded pipe to add to my collection, a conversation with Yan at Chateau D’Ars led to my placing an order with Association Cozian Saintorens for their “Excellence” model.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 »
The Early Folk Band - Robin Hood - Ballads Songs and Dances Miriam Andersén, Gesine Bänfer, Susanne Ansorg, Ian Harrison, Steven Player ‘It is a tale of Robin Hood, Which I to you will tell, Which being rightly understood, I know will please you well.’ From a True Tale of Robin Hood, Martin Parker, 1632 Ian Harrison and Gesine Bänfer are very fine pipers – and who of those of us at the 2006 and 2007 Blowouts can forgot their fine piping – and as such need no further introduction, but you may not be aware that they are also very fine shawm, cornet and recorder players (try to hear them playing with their medieval and renaissance wind band, les Haulz et les Bas).Read more »
Introduction Pawlu Vassallo Il-Bimblu) of Dingli playing a calfskin żaqq and accompanied by a tambourinist. (Photo courtesy of Luciano Vassallo.) The Maltese żaqq is one of the most distinctive ‘European’ bagpipes but also one of the rarest and least well known. Even in Malta many people have never heard of it. The żaqq is one of a number of so-called ‘primitive’ mouth-blown bagpipes found around the Mediterranean, in North Africa and the Near East.Read more »
The müsa is a small bagpipe with a single drone, typical of the valleys branching out from the heights of Appennino, approximately around the top of Mt Chiappo (1700mt. high) in the North of Italy. This small area is divided between the provinces of Pavia, Genoa, Alessandria and Piacenza and known locally as the “region of the Four Provinces” This area has a wide repertoire of traditional music, dances and songs, handed down by word of mouth and played on the piffero, a loud shawn typical of the area.Read more »
St Andrew’s Church, Heckington is a Grade 1 listed Anglican parish church in Lincolnshire. It is of cruciform plan and in a complete ‘decorated’ style representative of English gothic architecture. Dating from the early 14th century, the church was acquired by Bardney Abbey in 1345. The church’s greatest glories are due to the generosity of two men linked with King Edward II, Lord Henry de Beaumont and Richard de Potesgrave (c.Read more »
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.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 »
Music proclaiming itself to be for the bagpipe, either published or in manuscript, first appears in the North East of Scotland in 1717. In his seminal 1972 essay ‘English Bagpipe Music’1, Roderick Cannon introduced a resource which took researches into this topic back another 40 or 50 years, to Playford’s Musick’s Recreation on the Viol, Lyra-Way of 1661, which contained five tunes for the bass viol set up in ‘the bagpipe tuning’.Read more »
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