Musette à Béchonnet

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On a beautiful summer’s day in 2011, cabrette specialist André Ricros – also founder of the Agence de Musiques des Territoires d’Auvergne (AMTA) in 1985 – went to a musician’s banquet in the village of Cantouin. Set on the hills looking over to the wild flanks of the Cantal, dotted with picturesque villages gracing the foresty green slopes and overlooking a large blue lake created by a man-made dam, Cantouin is registered as one of the most ‘remarkable cities’ of France.

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Border pipes were never standardised and consequently while Southern English Border Pipes look like their northern cousins, they are much influenced by, and closer in sound to, the French Musette à Béchonnet and the Grande Cornemuse du Centre. A modern development, in other words, English Border Pipes tend to be in G, low D or low C, can be mouth or bellows blown, have up to four drones carried on the shoulder or across the chest, use half-closed fingering, and are nearly chromatic over a one and a half octave range.

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