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Grace notes

Images to follow

As editor, I find it fascinating how various editions of Chanter develop as I go through the process of compiling them. I don’t want you to think that there’s no planning or aforethought but generally I send out requests and feelers for potential articles and contributors, maybe up to two years in advance of publication, and wait to see what comes back to me. As many know to their cost, some people receive more than one reminder or prompt! I always try to achieve a mix of subjects in each edition to satisfy the broad church of interests covered by Bagpipe Society members – history, organology, players, makers, etc, etc. and on occasion a specific theme is commissioned. But usually it’s down to what comes in on time! But this edition I could well have labelled a Flemish Special! The main articles explore the modern history of piping in Belgium, focus on one of the leading European bagpipe makers and tell the heartening story of the next generation of pipers, the Amazing Airbags. There’s also a great bourree to play by Dutch musician Wouter Kuyper and a new painting by a Belgian artist inspired by a familiar figure from the past. So, whilst I would like to say the Winter edition was planned this way, I have to admit that it’s more a question of serendipity. I hope you enjoy it.

This edition will land on doorsteps with the world still experiencing the impact of Covid-19 and England will still be in – or just emerging from – a lockdown. This global pandemic is affecting all areas of life to a greater or lesser extent but the performing arts are feeling the impact particularly harshly. All musicians have had to make changes to what they do whether it’s no longer being able to play in the pub at the local session or finding that all of your concerts have been cancelled and no longer having an income. Regardless, there’s no doubting that there’s a lot less music being heard and a lot less piping going on. However, we must continue playing, we must continue petitioning, we must keep our voices being heard as the arts and music community will need help from governments, support groups, audiences and the general public in the months to come. Keep piping! On a personal note I wish every one of you the very best this forthcoming festive season and sincerely hope that you and all your loved ones keep safe and well.

A New Take on an Old Master

I am particularly pleased to feature the painting on this edition’s back cover. The majority of Bagpipe Society members will, I’m sure, be familiar with the painting of the bagpiper by Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629), notable not only for the set of bagpipes but also for his ‘off the shoulder’ attire.

Vital Peeters is an Oxford-based artist working mostly in glass using various techniques but he also works in stone and clay. However, he also draws with pencils, chalk and inks. On a recent visit to the Ashmolean Museum he was inspired by ter Brugghen’s work.

“The drawing is a transcript drawn straight from the oil painting in the Ashmolean Museum. I used a range of drawing materials I carried in my bag: graphite pencils, coloured crayons, oil sticks, coloured felt tips of all sizes, coloured crayons and water pen (aquarelle). 

I was doing a sketch group project about portraits at the time and always loved the way the player in the painting had a twinkle in his eye, and the way his shirt slips of his shoulder. A serenade?”

Further information about Vital’s work can be found at

Jane Moulder

Dear Jane

I am just reading ‘City of Laughter’ by Vic Gaterall, a review of published caricature prints from the late C1770’s to about 1810.  I have found two items that might interest readers of Chanter.

The first is a written description of an interrogation in a court room:

‘Was there a club that night at Wood’s house?’ [ at the White-horse, Aldgate] I believe there was a club, for I heard the people singing up stairs myself….

‘What had they for supper?’ A piece of boiled beef, I think they had some punch, I do not sell wine, I am sure they had no wine…..

‘So there were a hundred of you?’ Yes, there were a hundred and thirty odd. ‘All in one room?’ Yes. ‘What might be the expenses of the evening?’ Only sixpence apiece, the supper I paid for myself…. ‘Had you and ladies among you?’ There were several women. ‘Any dancing?’ Yes, and music. ‘What music?’ A piper.

Later in the book, there is a picture by Isaac Cruikshank, published by Hixon 1801, of the ‘Breaking up of the Union Club’, showing an obvious Pastoral piper on the left of the picture - see attached.

I hope this is of interest.

Best wishes, Dave Rowlands.