Another Chanter, another eclectic mix of articles. I am especially pleased to be able to print an account of the restoration of a rare musette à ravalement by Bart Van Troyen and his completion of the instrument is a real tour de force in the art of instrument making …. and reed making too! It is an honour for me, as editor, to be able to highlight and focus on the work that people are doing in order to preserve instruments from the past as they help inform the future.Read more »
Firstly, I must address some of the problems experienced with the last edition of Chanter. Several UK members reported that they had been charged extra postage for receiving their journal. This was particularly frustrating as the total weight was definitely below the 100g limit for standard postage. I knew it was a close call but my local Post Office had randomly selected a selection from the pile to double check the weight and had approved the postage rate.Read more »
Gina Fergione At the end of January this year I was contacted, via Julian Goodacre, by Gina Fergione, a singer and composer. She told me that she was in the process of composing a piece called The Cornish Suite and was scoring it for voice, Cornish Bagpipes and orchestra. The timescale was tight as its premiere was due in May and she was looking for a player to perform it in concert as part of the Stoke Newington Contemporary Music Festival.Read more »
See the Blowout 2022 page for full info! Olle Gällmo is a ‘riksspelman’ on Swedish bagpipes (Säckpipa) and well known for his work in playing and promoting the instrument, in Sweden and abroad. His comprehensive web site (olle.gallmo.se/) has been a great help and source of inspiration to Säckpipa players all over the world. Olle will give two workshops, one for Säckpipa in E/A, which will focus on Säckpipa-specific playing techniques, and one for conical half-closed bagpipes in G/C which will focus on the rhythmic peculiarities of Swedish traditional music.Read more »
This is a hand- coloured mezzotint of “The Musical Club” published in 1772. I have flipped the image to better enable comparison with the next image which is possibly the original painting from which the engraving was made. The painting has a very clear depiction of the chanter and drones. The drones appear to be slightly more splayed than the engraving but the chanter looks very similar with the extra detail of metal or horn work on the bell of the chanter and the chanter top.Read more »
When I was asked to write something about the MVO, I thought I’d struggle to improve on what Paddy Shaw said in Chanter in 1999, describing his experience on his first night camping at Beverley Folk Festival in 1998: “For the next 40 minutes, this group of musicians, anonymous in the dark, played bourrées, schottishes, waltzes from across both sets of MVO tunes. As far as I was concerned, the MVO was thus already a success - there were many objectives still to complete, but these were partly ‘additions’ - the kind of objectives you need to get funding.Read more »
Scientists for the University of Vigo believe they have found bagpipes, from the south of Galicia and Portugal, which have been in use from the Middle Ages. Starting from the idea that the fingers wear the wood that surrounds the holes of a bagpipe chanter when playing, for six years we have been developing a method that tries to find out if it is possible to date a chanter by its wear.Read more »
The advertisement overleaf is from the Oxford Journal from Saturday 6th April 1776. There are lots of things in here worth discussing! Not least is the reference to John Darcy being a maker of barrel organs that can play Psalm tunes, minuets and Country dances – Paul Roberts mentioned one of these in one of his papers on English fiddle music. He also makes bagpipes that are perfectly in tune that can also have additional keys added.Read more »
I was idly leafing through an old book of rounds, catches and the like, when I came across this interesting tune. A catch for three voices, it has two nice bagpipe references, and links them to the north country. It references both ‘Piper’ and ‘Drone’ leaving no ambiguity that this describes a bagpiper. ‘Strike it up Piper, let’s have a spring good’, and ‘Hark how the Drone, below a tone, doth hum’.Read more »
The epitaph on Spike Milligan’s grave famously reads “I told you I was ill.” It’s a gag that my friend and colleague Paul Saunders loved and gleefully repeated on many occasions. Paul was a professional ‘medieval entertainer’, working castles, festivals and fairs the length of the country, and sometime beyond, as a solo performer and in various costume bands. This can be hard and exacting work, in all weathers and for not much pay.Read more »
Early March saw me driving north to Newcastle Upon Tyne for the International Bagpipe Organisation’s Conference and my first ever visit to the city. The last conference was due to be held in Boston, USA in March 2020 and was cancelled just as the potential impact of Covid was being realised. Having attended so many online events over the last two years, it felt a strange prospect to be doing something as ‘normal’ as attending a session and a conference.Read more »
Chaucer’s Miller and the problem of pilgrim pipers Recently I viewed again the 1944 Powell and Pressburger film “A Canterbury Tale”, telling the interlinked stories of four “pilgrims” in wartime Kent. Its haunting cinematography, its mystical evocation of English landscape and history and its uplifting conclusion have long made it a favourite of mine, and there is a celebrated sequence at the start where a medieval falconer lets loose his bird of prey, which climbs and swoops - to be almost imperceptibly replaced by an RAF fighter plane, instantly transporting us from the 14th century to the mid-20th.Read more »
Dear Jane, I wonder if I might tempt you to write a general article on the categories of kinds of smallpipes and their differences. The reason I ask this is because I am learning the chanter/pipes and, because I live in a townhouse, buying a set of Great Highland pipes is not an option for me at this stage. I do want to be able to move on to them someday so I personally want standard hole spacing on a smallpipes chanter and in key of A etc.Read more »
I have played bagpipes now for 25 years, with most of that time devoted to the Bock – a type of bagpipe which emerged in the Slavic-German contact zones during the early 17th century. Bohemia, which today is part of the Czech Republic, became a safe haven of piping in the 20th century, when bagpipes had vanished in neighbouring Germany and Austria. Both Czechs and Germans (the latter in a district called Egerland/Chebsko) used the instrument to play music for public dances and weddings.Read more »
Introduction Croatia (Hrvatska) is a small country, but with very rich and diverse traditions. Each region in Croatia has specific costumes, dances, songs and musical instruments, often completely different from all the others. There are several reasons for this. The first is the age of the Croatian people.The Croats occupied the area of today’s Croatia in the 7th century at the invitation of the Roman emperor Heraclius, in order to defend the Roman Empire from the Avars.Read more »
After studying the French bagpipes from Gascony (Boha), I made some of them in the traditional way. Then I started to create models and print instruments in 3D. Here is a summary of that experience. To design a printable bagpipe you will need some hardware, a 3D printer, 3D printing software, and most importantly, 3D modelling software. For the modelling, I chose the software Freecad which is free and can be downloaded.Read more »
Not your average musette Gaspard de Gueidan with his favourite instrument, and a slightly bemused dog The musette holds a special place in the wonderful world of bagpipes, as the once favourite instrument of the French aristocrats in the 17th and 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, people gradually lost interest until the musette went completely out of fashion. Of course, the 1789 revolution helped a bit, too.Read more »
Participants of Sunnseitn Bordun Dudelsack Festival 2021. Photograph by Franz Durst Have you heard the one about the Czech Mayor, the Austrian officer and the Macedonian PhD student who broke into an Alpine chalet? This just about sums up the wildness of Sunnseitn Dudelsack Festival, where, after an evening of wild music the entire festival participants found themselves locked out of their accommodation. No problem at all!Read more »
Photo: Markus Haaser, 2011 Persons from left to right: Elias Krassas (tsampouna), Ioulianos Kottakis(tsampouna), Vassilis Psaras(ntoumpaki), Giannis Manios(tsampouna) What is this film about? Tell us a few words about it. This film is about an ancient instrument, called the Askavlos. This comes from the Greek words askos + avlos and means bag + pipe. And about how it is being revived today by a community that is trying to preserve it and pass it on to future generations.Read more »
David Faulkner I was prompted to write this when one of my recent students talked to me about how hard it was to find a teacher. At the moment I am teaching a few pipers regularly on zoom. All that is needed is a device that has a camera, mic, sound and a screen. For instance, a computer, laptop, large phone etc. The mic can be internal or plugged in.Read more »
In the December edition of Chanter Eric Montbel mentioned that he had L’Infinit at the top of his current playlist. By coincidence I was listening to that self-same CD as I read the article. Not really a surprising co-incidence, because I had L’Infinit on loop play since it dropped through my letterbox. The Catalan traditional music revival started in the mid-late 1970s during the transition from Franco’s regime.Read more »
Jean-Claude Blanc - Terre Lointaines Terre Lointaines is the second CD by Jean-Claude Blanc, one of the key pipers in the French piping revival, accompanied by his brother Bernard Blanc; one of the pipemaking fathers of that revival. I reviewed his first CD, Cornemuses, for Chanter in 2018. This features a mix of music not only from central France, but also from further afield. His second CD Lointaines, meaning Distant Lands takes us completely away from France.Read more »
As Jean-Pierre van Hees complains in the notes to the CD, the musette has something of a reputation as a ‘novelty’ instrument or even an aristocratic toy. However, once you start looking at the musette’s repertoire you realise that there must have been some very capable players around the court of Louis XIV. That included professional players and makers of the instrument, such as the Chédeville family (related to the Hotteterres).Read more »
Belgian piper Marieke Van Ransbeeck is well known to readers of Chanter. A great piper with a crisp style and a sense of fun and adventure in her playing and compositions. In many ways this album is the soundtrack to her travels and studies in Scandinavia from 2017-19 (see her article ‘Expedition in the North - Logbook of a Belgian piper’, Chanter, Vol.35, No.2, Summer 2021) a sonic travelogue that hangs together as a complete story with a beginning, middle and end.Read more »
Wessmanlandsbitar is an album by Folke Dahlgren & Bruno Andersen playing Swedish bagpipes (säckpipa) and hurdy-gurdy. The album was successfully crowdfunded in the summer of 2021 and is now released upon an unsuspecting world. It is quite simply an hour of pure drone heaven. These two musicians interweave the melodies and harmonies in and around each other as if they were one. At times it is hard to believe that there are just two musicians playing such is the richness of the arrangements.Read more »
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