Welcome to the Winter edition of Chanter and I hope there will be something to interest everyone whether a player, maker, researcher or simply an enthusiast. I am particularly pleased that Paul Roberts has submitted his work to date on the evolution of the “pastoral pipe” in Britain. I have heard Paul’s presentation at both the International Bagpipe Organisation’s Conference and the Blowout and as the majority of members were unable to be at either of these, it is good to be able to print it in Chanter.Read more »
Welcome to the first ever full colour edition of Chanter. As editor it gives me much pleasure in being able to write that sentence! It has always been something of a frustration that some of the articles are not reproduced to their best, as the colour photographs that are normally submitted by contributors do not always clearly convert to black and white. Hopefully, that is now all resolved. I am sitting at my desk writing this column whilst looking out at grey skies and frequent showers – a sad sight for the beginning of August.Read more »
Editor’s Note: There was something of an editorial oversight in the last edition. Somehow, Jon Swayne’s response to Andy Letcher’s question on tapering bores (p.11) acquired an extra paragraph at the end of his article. At this point I must confess I have no idea where the paragraph came from and who wrote it! So, I will reprint it as a “Call” and hope that there are some “Responses” – and to both Jon and the questioner – apologies!Read more »
Well, there I was, thinking that last Chanter’s bumper edition was going to be a one off – but here we go again! I’m very pleased that it is the gaita and the pipes of Iberia that have caused this second oversized volume in a row because there’s a special place in my heart for these instruments. What has become very clear to me in reading through all of the articles is that in the same way that the generic word “bagpipe” covers a multitude of different forms and type of instrument, so it is with gaita.Read more »
Welcome to this Bumper Edition of Chanter! It is, I think, the largest edition of Chanter to have ever been published. As editor, I was in enviable position that so many excellent articles had been submitted I was having difficulty in deciding which ones would be held back for the future – so I have resolved the issue by simply putting them all in! A big thank you to all the contributors.Read more »
At the AGM the question of discounts for attending the Blowout for members of the society was raised. The premise being that a discount is a reason for joining the society. I don’t really buy this argument as it seems a rather feeble reason for joining. Extrinsic rewards only work while the reward is present (remove the discount, the behaviour goes away), whereas you really want people to join for intrinsically motivated reasons, because then they’ll stick around and likely contribute to the society.Read more »
It is time for the next International Bagpipe Conference! The fourth edition will take place in Palma on the island of Mallorca, where there has been a rich piping tradition since the medieval ages. The conference will span over 3 days with an opening concert on Friday 9 March, the conference on 10 March and a social outing involving bagpipes and historical trains on Sunday 11 March. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible in Mallorca next March.Read more »
The Iberian Peninsula is extremely rich in instruments. The bagpipe was a common instrument in the northern part of the country. This short overview of the different instruments one can find will hopefully give you an indication of the huge variety of bagpipes to be found in Spain and Portugal. Gaita de fol (Galicia, Asturias, Portugal, Sanabria, Bierzo, Cantabria) The gaita de fol (gaita with bag) is probably the best-known European bagpipe after the great Highland Bagpipe, mainly thanks to Galician musicians’ international careers such as Carlos Nuñez and Susana Seivane.Read more »
There are two new calls in this edition – if anyone has any responses, please send them to me before 1st May to email@example.com Call I found the following quote in the Wikipedia entry on ‘Tharapita’, the Estonian thunder god. It lacks a citation, so I’m wondering if any members can shed light on its provenance and whether there is any truth to the claim? According to several medieval chronicles, Estonians did not work on Thursdays (days of Thor) and Thursday nights were called “evenings of Tooru”.Read more »
I need to report on two resignations from the committee. Firstly, George Swallow. He writes: “I regret that owing to my rapidly failing health, I have been obliged to stand down as Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Michael Ross has taken over but I shall remain as a committee member without portfolio until the handover is complete.” George took over the post in 2015, having, some might say, rashly volunteered to manipulate our end of year accounts into a more understandable form some years previously.Read more »
Calls and Responses was held back in the last edition due to it being the Iberian Special. For those of you who can’t remember Andy Letcher’s Call from March this year I have reprinted it in front of James Merryweather’s response. Further Calls for the next edition should be submitted to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1st November at the latest. Call: I found the following quote in the Wikipedia entry on ‘Tharapita’, the Estonian thunder god.Read more »
If you visualise all your knowledge as being inside a bubble (a small one in my case), then everything you don’t know is outside that bubble. As you learn more things, your bubble gets bigger and so the surface of the bubble, the interface between what you know and what you don’t know gets bigger as well. This means that your confusion and apparent ignorance increases each time you learn something new!Read more »
In 2011, we were presented with a remarkable opportunity to take on the interior restoration of a 13th century Venetian tower in the crumbling castle of Akrotiri, Santorini. Our idea was to create a workshop, exhibition and performance space to showcase our beloved instrument – the Greek bagpipe – the tsabouna. A year later, we managed to do just that. In the tower’s main chamber we created a unique exhibition of Greek bagpipes that highlighted the skilled craftsmanship of makers from Santorini and the Aegean region.Read more »
I have been very impressed with the online tutorials developed by Remi Decker and I was not sure how well they were known by Society members. Remi is an excellent teacher (as anyone attending his sessions at the Blowout will confirm) and so I asked him to write something for Chanter. A Dutch folk magazine had carried an article about the videos only last month and they have very kindly given permission for me to re-print it in Chanter.Read more »
Anyone interested in bagpipes and their cultural distribution throughout the world has probably at least once raised an eyebrow over a strange similarity of names: In Western Europe we find the various types of gaitas in Spain and Portugal, whereas the Balkans show different kinds of gajda (throughout the article I will use this spelling in order to denote the numerous variants). Naturally, this intriguing similarity has called on the attention of scholars every now and then – however, the outcome has not quite been satisfying, as I will show.Read more »
Welcome to the programme for our 25th Blowout! We have again been most fortunate to book a wide range of exciting guests from both near and far. There may be updates, so keep an eye our Facebook page and especially our website, where you can read more detailed practical information and download timetables, music scores etc via the Blowout 2017 page. Cätlin Mägi (Estonia), Griff Trio (Belgium), Jon Swayne’s Mystery Band, David Faulkner & Steve Turner, Scott Marshall, Andy Letcher, Sean Jones, Paul Roberts, Pat GoodacreRead more »
We played in Cassel (French Flanders near St Omer) at the beginning of April as part of a short tour of Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France. We weren’t sure what to expect – all our other bookings were clubs or house concerts, but this was an ‘estaminet.’ Unfortunately, the Collins French dictionary doesn’t contain the word ‘estaminet’ so we turned up not quite knowing what we’d let ourselves in for.Read more »
It was the stories and folklore associated with our instrument that first got me interested in playing the bagpipes. I’d come across this chap called Richard York playing various instruments at a Tudor day at Shibden Hall and had become entranced by the tales he told between the tunes as much as the music itself. The performance planted a seed in my mind and within a couple of years I was piping myself and Richard became a very good and supportive friend.Read more »
Translated by Cassandre Balosso-Bardin I started to play the bagpipes in the 1970s in Ferrol, Northern Galicia. It is relevant to recall the situation at the time: they are the inevitable circumstances that put my story in context. In the previous decade, Spain had abandoned autarky and the isolation policy that had defined the initial period after the war. It led to economic prosperity that influenced the social fabric, changed customs and encouraged the desire to change.Read more »
This year marks the 25th Blowout. The Bagpipe Society began in order to support the re-emergence of English piping in the ’80s. To me, the Saturday night Blowout concert reflects what is best about the state of piping in any one year. And then the bal afterwards shows how we keep up the quality and let our hair down at the same time. Last year, as I emerged from yet another incredible Saturday night concert, it struck me that these concerts demonstrate the maturity of the Bagpipe Society and its willingness to experiment.Read more »
There is a widespread belief that numerous distinctive regional bagpipes formerly existed in England. This is largely based on a handful of continually recycled 17th century references. In fact, these references mention only three instruments - the “Lincolnshire”, “Lancashire” and “Scotch” bagpipes. In general, the discourse has suggested either that the Lincolnshire and Lancashire instruments didn’t exist, the references simply reflecting the popularity of ordinary bagpipes in those counties; or that they were purely regional peasant bagpipes, long defunct and now unidentifiable; while references to the “Scotch bagpipe” in an English context have largely been ignored.Read more »
In a misguided fit of enthusiasm in 1978 my brother John bought new a set of Pakistani-made Highland bagpipes from Ray Mann, a music shop near Covent Garden, London, that specialised in unusual musical instruments. The bag was greasy, gave off a distinctive, but not entirely offensive stench and leaked like a sieve, the valve didn’t operate properly and the reeds were atrocious. Neither of us had any previous experience with bagpipes.Read more »
This article is written with the help and advice of Alberto Jambrina Leal, who has been researching, since the 1980s, the various bagpipes in the regions of: Sanabria, Carballeda and Aliste (N.W. Spain); as well as bagpipes (gaita) in the region of Trás-os-Montes (N.E. Portugal). This article will try and cover several gaitas in a geographical area, which has been divided due to national borders, but culturally are unified. To categorize these different gaitas from different regions that share common features, Alberto has used the term “Subgalaic” bagpipes, as he says this covers all the regions where these types of gaitas existed: (in Spain) Gaita Sanabresa, Gaita Alistana, Gaita Carballeda, Gaita Pedrazales, and from the province of León, Gaita La Cabrera; (in Portugal) from the village of Miranda do Douro, Gaita de Mirandesa.Read more »
Bourdon Collectief or “Drone Collective” is so called because it is the drone, together with the continuous sound of the melody, that defines our concerts. Not well known, but central to the setting of this ensemble, are the two musettes, also known as musette baroque or musette de cour as it was a very popular instrument in 17th and 18th century France. Many composers wrote for this instrument and it is our mission to present their music in an authentic instrumentation.Read more »
If procrastination really is the thief of time then I must be a sort of temporal Great Train Robber. It’s not that I have fewer or less interesting good ideas than the next man, but it seems to take me an eternity to actually make them happen. It was thus with the Great Linseed oil Project of 2015. I had known for years that various of my colleagues used impregnation systems to drive oil deep into the wood of their instruments.Read more »
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