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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Grace Notes

I was unable to get to Le Son Continu this year for personal reasons and its absence from my calendar brought home how important such gatherings are to me. It’s not just about the instruments and music but it’s also about personal relationships and the feeling of belonging to a community. In this way, the Blowout is also a vital part of my year. For one thing - I don’t have to explain about bagpipes! It seems that all the different sections of my life are a bit like a Venn diagram and gatherings like the

Blowout and Le Son Continu are where the various aspects overlap. No doubt it’s the same for many people but through such events I have met some wonderful people whom I would never have met under other circumstances.

So it is with particular sadness that I have to report on the loss of two great characters from the world of bagpiping. Both of them have, in their own way, broadened musical horizons : Roderick Cannon, honorary patron on the Society, was instrumental in helping us understand the existence and relevance of ENGLISH bagpipies and Jean-Christophe Maillard, who forged a place for the Baroque Musette. What comes over very clearly about these two men when reading the various reminiscences about them, is that they were both thoroughly nice gentlemen. This being said in an era when the word “nice” can often be seen as trite. But what also strikes me is that they were both generous to a fault about their knowledge and expertise and as well as being unassuming about their abilities and the impact they had on bagpipes and musical understanding. They will be truly missed and this edition of Chanter contains two personal viewpoints about them.

Congratulations to Callum Armstong and his colleague George Pasca who won the duo competition at Le Son Continu this year. Last year Callum won the solo prize playing his adapted smallpipes, developed in association with Julian Goodacre and this year it was playing a set of pipes by Jon Swayne. It was a shame I wasn’t there to cheer him on but a video of the winning performance, which is a display in technical, as well as musical,wizardry is on You Tube at

How to silence your Gaita!

I live in a terraced house and so am always aware of potential noise pollution for my neighbours when playing my instruments. My solution is to play a set of quiet dudy inside the house whilst I have the luxury of a soundproofed workshop in my garden for all my other, louder, bagpipes (plus shawms, raushcpfeifen and dulcians, of course). But not everyone is so lucky and I remember Andy Letcher once telling me that he used to practice in his wardrobe. Well, if you’re a gaita player – help is at hand! Being worn (yes, literally!) by Jean-Louse Caussée at this year’s Blowout was a very effective mute system for gaita. Now gaita are loud, but the Insogaita did a superb job and the website blurb claims it reduces the noise by 70%. I tried it myself as I thought it looked very awkward and cumbersome and would restrict movement but it was okay. It would be too small for a border pipe chanter but if the gaita is your instrument, then this is your answer to hours of happy, quiet piping! So, make your nearest and dearest, neighbours and local wildlife happy by investing in an Insogaita! Further information about the mute can be got be contacting the inventor, Javier Ramiro. A YouTube video is at

Uploading Media To The Archive

Andy Carter is a member of the Bagpipe Society Committee and is responsible for building and developing an online library of piping related video clips and images. He was due to have submitted an article for this edition of Chanter. The editor was very understanding though when Andy discovered that normal life had intervened and he couldn’t make the deadline – so his full article will be in the Winter edition. Meanwhile, if you have any material you’ve gathered from festivals and sessions over the summer, then please get in touch with and he will let you know what to do!

Boha Wars!

The number of online petitions seem to be growing these days and it appears that almost anything can now be the subject of a petition. Bagpipes are no exception! In France, a petition has been launched about the naming of the instrument called a boha. The petition is addressed to no less than UNESCO. Here is an abbreviated translation of the petition. If you feel you want to support this, then go to this address:

No to the arbitrary change of name “Bagpipe of the Landes de Gascogne” into “Gascogne bagpipe”.

The boha, bagpipes Landes de Gascogne, has been the subject of an application for registration to the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. It is unfortunate that this application is made by the Gasconha Bohaires Association without prior consultation with all major players in the practice of this instrument, including Landes and arbitarily changing its name.

For our part, we are nevertheless in favour of including the boha as part of our cultural heritage. However, we want the revision of the listing. Therefore, we ask:

  • maintain the historic name: the Landes de Gascogne bagpipe for all types of bagpipe from the Landes
  • that all who promote and practice the boha should have a say in how it is categorised. It should not just be the association Bohaires Gasconha who has a monopoly on the practice, promotion and safeguarding of the boha.
  • the boha be considered in all its different forms from the early models with 5 rectangular holes up to the current type that has 6 or 7 set round-shaped holes.

Piper’s Companion

Some of you will be familiar with the series of music books called The Piper’s Companion. This series is aimed at primarily at Northumbrian pipers and it contains arrangements for duos and trios. The tunes can, of course, be played on a wide range of instruments, not just Northumbrians and I know that they have been a staple addition to many musician’s repertoire. All the tunes were compiled, arranged and edited by Derek Hobbs and he has now digitised all 240 arrangements of the tunes. Sadly, the midi recordings sound nothing at all like Northumbrian pipes but the site is a useful tool for listening to the arrangements. There are also links to buy copies of the book should the sound clips whet your appetite. Many thanks to Derek for making this resource freely available.

New Membership Secretary and Treasurer for the Society

You will no doubt read in the précis of the AGM that, after a stalwart 8 year service (sentence?), Michael Ross has stepped down as Membership Secretary and Treasurer. This vital role to the Society has now been taken up by George Swallow. George is ably suited to the position being a retired qualified accountant as well as having an interest in bagpipes. He is more inclined towards making pipes and other instruments than playing them and he has been a member of the Society for over ten years. His main hobby is model engineering and his introduction to pipes was constructing Eric Reiswig’s PVC set, which apparently surprised him by not working. (How many others have suffered the same experience?!) Not put off by this early setback, his fascination with pipes continued but has been relieved by buying a set of Julian’s Leicester smallpipes to tide him over until success with producing his own working set arrives.

George can be contacted at