If you happen to be in Mendocino, California during the first week of August, and you head east into the giant redwoods, you will arrive at a bacchanalian music festival known as Lark Camp. Here musicians of many interests convene for a week of dancing, bagpiping, fluting, fiddling and all manner of sonic mayhem. Among many piping classes (Irish, Scots, Bulgarian, French) a highlight is the gathering of Galician Gaita aficionados who have been meeting here for the last fifteen or so years.Read more »
Sculpture depicting a bagpiper. Ourense (Galicia). Fourteenth century. In Pablo Carpintero Arias, Os instrumentos Musicaisna, Tradición Galega, 2a Edición. Ed. Difusora, 2010, p. 365. The bagpipe has been represented in iconography in the Iberian Peninsula since the eleventh century, frequently depicted as a rural instrument played by shepherds. The ethnographic evidence of the use of bagpipes in Portugal and Spain goes back to the nineteenth century.Read more »
When I submitted a 250-word proposal for a paper I proposed to deliver at the International Bagpipe Conference in Glasgow in February 2016, little did I know what I was letting myself in for. Several months before I saw the call for papers, I had finally begun to engage with a project, the idea for which I had long been tinkering with; to do a trawl of Irish newspapers starting as far back as I could go to see what coverage – if any – appeared in them about any aspect of the Highland bagpipe.Read more »
I hope the article I wrote for the last edition of Chanter was of some interest. In this second instalment, I describe how the project developed beyond the initial prototypes printed at MakLab, up to the production of the “Version 2” prototype. The first prototype of the “Version 2” chanter is still my main instrument - this is the colourful red & yellow chanter that some readers may have noticed at LBPS events, or in videos on the internet.Read more »
I received an invitation to write about my chanter for Chanter some months ago and have been slow to take it up due to the status of my project. I’m waiting for a breakthrough in plastic reed design, and am involved with two separate reed makers to this end. The following article provides an interim insight into the work that’s been done so far. Description of the Lindsay System Chanter Here is a description as an introduction for those who haven’t already heard about my chanter, or read about it/watched videos online: it is a chanter for Scottish Smallpipes and it is nominally pitched in “A”, and provides a range of two octaves beginning on “D”.Read more »
‘You must sing, / sweet piper girl, / you must sing, / for I’m dying from grief. / […] / To the sound of the pipes, / to the sound of the tambourine, / I ask you to sing, / dark-haired girl.’ From Cantares Gallegos Galician Songs by Rosalía de Castro (Translated by John Rutherford) This article offers an overview of the tension between tradition and innovation in the world of the Galician gaita in modern times with the aim of showing the vitality of the gaita and the bagpiper as symbols of ever evolving meaning.Read more »
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.Read more »
… as told to Andy Letcher Olle Gällmo is a Swedish musician and tutor, most well-known for his work in playing and promoting the traditional Swedish bagpipe – säckpipa. He became aware of the Swedish bagpipe tradition in 1991 and has since become one of the instrument’s most vocal proponents, in Sweden and abroad, not least through his comprehensive website about the instrument (http://olle.gallmo.se/sackpipa). To hear Olle play and tell stories of Swedish bagpipe history, is a musical and cultural ear opener.Read more »
Dave ran a workshop at the Blowout and he has very kindly provided the music here for those unable to attend. Irish Trot Also known as Butcher Row or A Pibroch. Versions can be found in McFarlane, Walsh, Atkinson, Wynders, William Clarke and Aird’s Airs. Here is a selection of variations. Strain 6 is adapted and 7 is by David Faulkner. Some versions give up to 29 strains (R Cannon).Read more »
Diego Piñeiro was born in Santiago de Compostela in 1978. Since 2004, he makes Galician gaitas and Mallorcan xeremies. A carpenter by trade, he taught himself the instrument making skills by visiting many artisans, sharing advice and methods. He currently combines his bagpipe making practice with the construction and repair of metal wind instruments after a few years of specialised training in Bremen, northern Germany. The shape, size and material of the rings that decorate a bagpipe are, in large part, elements that differentiate and identify each particular sort of bagpipe.Read more »
Oval in 10 minutes – Making a Berrichonne Stock The topic for Tools of the Trade is the jig I made for sanding the oval chanter stock for my Berrichonne Cornemuse. The stock is oval in shape and has two parallel bores running through it. It is 120mm long for the G model and the challenge is to make the stock to a good and consistent shape. I hadn’t made one of these since setting up my own workshop so I had nothing in place to do the job.Read more »
“If there is a heaven, I hope it’s a bit like Medieval Music in the Dales”… It’s always nice to get feedback, but that particularly made my day. Heaven will have to feature bagpipes, because there were plenty of them at Medieval Music in the Dales 2017. Our theme was ‘Spain Comes to Yorkshire’, and we had two magnificent pipers from Spain. Sponsored by The Bagpipe Society was Eduard Navarro, who gave an illustrated presentation on the historic and traditional reed instruments of Iberia, and also a concert with percussionist and string-player Jaume Pallardó.Read more »
Carnet de bal en Gascogne: Musiques traditionnelles de Gascogne jouées à la boha by Yan Cozian Like many regions of Europe, the last 40 or so years has seen a revival in interest in the traditions and culture of Gascony. With this came an increased desire to dance the old dances to the old tunes, using traditional instruments such as the boha. Starting in the 1970s, revivalists, including Yan Cozian, set about collecting traditional songs and dance tunes from the old players and so preserved a link with the past that was very nearly lost.Read more »
English and Border Music, 1625 to 2017 David Faulkner (border pipes) and Steve Turner (piano accordion) have made an excellent album showcasing a range of tunes that sit well on border pipes (the Jon Swayne design) either of their own composition or carefully chosen from a range of English and northern border sources from the 17th to the 19th centuries. David, as you doubtless know, is a very fine piper and he puts in exemplary performances here on a range of 3⁄2 and 5⁄2 hornpipes, jigs, airs and marches on G, D and low C pipes.Read more »
Where next? Well, I hope this edition of Chanter has whetted your appetite for finding out more about the music and culture of Iberia and its instruments. There are some established groups and sessions in the UK which feature Iberian music and are featured below. Also, Cassandre has selected her top picks of CDs and recordings for you to search out and listen to. We’re also going to be treated to some historical Iberian piping at the forthcoming Medieval Music in the Dales.Read more »
Many thanks to Dave Rowlands for sending in a wonderful selection of photographs taken during his travels in Iberia and Madeira. I’ve selected just a few of his images to share with you. Top left: From the monastery at Poblet, Catalunia. Top right: Decoration on a park bench in Madeira. Bottom left: Toledo Cathedral. Bottom right: On the church of San Jeronimo in Madrid (restored 1880)Read more »
Peni started playing pipes in 1995 on a set made by Jonathan Shortland and she was soon the piper of Headmix Collective. She went on to learn Welsh piping with Pibau Pencader lead by Cer Rhy Mathews. In the early 2000’s she was part of the high energy dance band The Mordekkers. Peni has also played in various traditional drum and pipe bands; Pilau Presell, Pilau Planed, Bagad Morganwg.Read more »
Geordie Syme’s Paircel of Tunes – Music for Border Pipers and their Friends. Edited by Matt Seattle, Dragonfly Music Pipers everywhere owe Matt Seattle a debt of gratitude for the significant contribution he has made to the discovery and publication of music for pipers and other musicians. I suspect that most members of the Society will have at least one Dragonfly Music volume on their shelves and more than likely in their collection they will have a copy of “The Master Piper”, the William Dixon manuscript.Read more »
Piva - Morisco! Italian dance and song music from the Renaissance La Roque Recordings www.piva.org.uk When I was an impressionable teenager I heard David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London and from that moment I was hooked on the earthy, woody sounds of early instruments playing in harmony – both an evocation of popular music of the period and a precursor of the larger musical forces of later centuries playing compositions that were more than the sum of their parts.Read more »
Figure 1 Any instrument maker is liable to be asked this question and I always find it a tricky one to answer. Where should I start? My pipes are made of wood and I cut down much of it myself which then involves leaving it to season for at least four years. Should my answer disregard this time? In actual fact some of the trees I use were planted by Dad in the 1940’s which was before I was born.Read more »
Back in 2012 I had a crazy idea - let’s run a workshop weekend at Halsway Manor for the nyckelharpa, an instrument not many people had heard of. I’ve built this up from a small weekend of eight participants to a large one of 45. Then last year I had another crazy idea - I’d run a säckpipa weekend at Halsway Manor. I’m pretty sure I know how many there are of us that play säckpipa in the UK and it’s not many.Read more »
I first came across Dimitrios at the Paros tsabouna* festival in 2013. He was clearly a highly respected musician and he certainly cut an imposing figure on the stage with his “bull roar” of a voice and his ability to coax singular and expressive music from an apparently primitive pentatonic bagpipe. That was as far as it went as far as I was concerned. That was until 2015 when we were staying with our friend and tsabouna enthusiast, Evgenia Chanoti, on Mykonos who announced that Dimitrios would be arriving as a special party guest.Read more »
I’ve been playing Galician bagpipe in London for eight years. After studying bagpipes in Galicia, I came to the UK from a very small village in the Galician northwest to a huge and cosmopolitan city like London, where everything is possible and where people from every culture of around the world coexist with their custom and musical traditions. For me, as a bagpiper, it was something amazing coming to this city.Read more »
Most makers of Renaissance instruments attempt to ‘copy’ those from the period. With no surviving bagpipes, this means relying on iconography and contemporaneous descriptions – and we have no shortage of pictorial evidence and a few detailed accounts of bagpipe design, including drone tuning. This pursuit of ‘authenticity’ has turned out some delightful and very useful instruments, owing much to the creativity of modern makers in filling in the missing information.Read more »
The Barley Skimmers is book of 40 original tunes written for pipes. The tunes are all written out in the usual Highland style of A with no key signature. I’ve been using a key signature for my pipe tunes for many years now, but this is standard practice for Highland pipe music. I assumed that these tunes would be lovely on the Scottish smallpipes so of course the first thing I decided to do was to see how they would fare on my G border pipes.Read more »
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