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Review: Medieval Music for Bagpipes by Lizzie Gutteridge

Lizzie Gutteridge plays with Blondel, The York Waits, Colchester Waits and more besides. She may be better known as a shawm player, but she’s also a fine piper. Since 2016 she has been arranging some music from the 13th to 15th centuries for playing on bagpipes. This is the third volume. It contains 10 pieces arranged for G and D pipes. Her introductory notes give the background to the pieces, and this is helpful if you, like me, are not familiar with all of them. The pieces include some well-known tunes (Edi Beo Thu and L’homme armé), but there are also some less well-known ones: a perfect balance. There were no duds.

The pieces are chosen for bagpipes, but would work well on other wind instruments with a similar range. The music is well laid out and is clear to follow. The words to the songs underneath the notes are an added bonus.

I found that the tunes varied in their difficulty, with the general trend being that they became more testing as the book progressed. This makes starting from the first page the natural place to begin! Look out! Playing many repeated Bb’s might be unfamiliar to you, but it’s a good exercise. The hemiolas, changes of time signature mid tune, and the ability to hold your line when the other lines are playing to a different rhythm are good challenges to meet and overcome.

Arrangements such as these come to life when the three parts are played together. At this lockdown time, I missed playing this music with two other pipers, so I resorted to using Garage Band on my iPad to record myself playing all three lines so that I could hear the interplay of the arrangements. That exercise and the end result were both very satisfying.

The earlier two books cover the same timeframe, with a similar mix of well and less well-known tunes. Book 1 is for three sets of G pipes, and Book 2 for G and C pipes. Once again, they cater for players of differing standards, but all the pieces are good fun to play. I recommend all three books to you.

Some of the arrangements feature on each of the three Blondel albums and on Lizzie’s Consort of 1 solo album. There are some videos of a couple of them on her Consort of 1 YouTube channel and sound tracks on the Blondel one

You can get the books and the CDs from