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Review: the Double-Chantered Bagpipe. Editors: Steve Bliven, Julian Goodacre, Pete Stewart

When I placed my order for a set of double chanter bag- pipes, I was given the first edition of this book as bed- time reading to keep me going whilst I waited for the pipes themselves. And I did read it cover to cover sev- eral times in anticipation. I’ve had my set of double pipes for just over a year now and looked forward to seeing the new version of the book.

This new and enlarged edition comes 11 years after the original book and 20 years on from Julian’s completion of his Cornish Pipes design. This second edition is bound, rather than the loose-leaf format of the original, and so is much more suited to regular use and carrying around in pipe cases.

The book reflects changes in the ways in which we access music since the first edition was published, so there are suggestions of websites of performers who play double pipes and video clips and tutorials on Julian’s website give support to the printed book.

There are 30 tunes which have been chosen as examples particularly suited to double chanter bagpipes. Most tunes are printed as the basic melody, then followed by a version split across two staves, one for each chanter. However, a few are only printed in the split stave version which I found a little harder to follow at first if the melody wasn’t already familiar to me.

I did enjoy the conversational style of the text, as if friendly advice from a tutor rather than formal instruction. I did come across very occasional typos, but there is nothing that loses the sense of what is being said and the book is clear and easy to under- stand throughout, which is great for pipers learning by themselves with only occasional chances to meet others.

A wonderful extra in this second edition is William Marshall’s handy approach to creating “chords” across the chanters, which I have personally found a great help in making more of these double-chanter bagpipes.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is solely a manual for players of Julian’s double chanter pipes, there is much to interest all bagpipers. There are several intriguing articles exploring themes relating to double chanter bagpipes, from carvings in medieval churches to the reconstruction of a double pipe described by James Talbot in the 1690s.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable book, being fascinating and useful in equal measure.

Available from:

George Stevens - 3 Tunes

Reviewed by Andy Letcher

An EP release from luthier and one time member of Snake-

town, George Stevens, consisting of two pieces for bouzouki

and one for bagpipe, all self-penned. As the names suggest,

‘2 Camels’ and ‘Age of Empires’ have an eastern feel, with

almost prog chord progressions at times (fear not, I mean that

as a compliment!), driven along by George’s steady percus-

sion. The sole bagpipe piece, ‘Polesworth Abbey’, is a

charming, medieval style waltz, composed while trying out a

set of Sean Jones pipes at the Blowout. George’s piping is

smooth and graceful with deft use of vibrato. He is accompa-

nied by the Kent Border Pipe Ensemble which, given the

otherwise assiduous sleeve notes, I take to mean himself performing a series of over- dubs. Here the mixing goes a bit awry, with the backing parts panned rather heavily and obscuring the melody, but this is nothing that can’t be fixed on what one hopes will be a full length album to follow.

Available from, £5.00 UK or £6.00 overseas.