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OF THE NORTH AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF
LOWLAND AND BORDER PIPERS
NUMBER 5 APRIL 1993
OF THE NORTH AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF
LOWLAND AND BORDER PIPERS
NUMBER 5 APRIL 1993
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOR YOUR INFORMATION…………………………………………………………………………………3
SOME CURIOUS ENGRAVINGS…………………………………………………………………………5
0’ER THE BORDER (HAVE PIPES WILL TRAVEL), by Alan Jones………………………..11
MORE REVELATIONS ON PASTORAL PIPING, by Brian McCandless………………..25
MEMBERS’ PIPING BIOGRAPHIES…………………………………………………………………..27
“…What is needed is some contrivance that will prevent this, by cooling the air before it reaches the chanter. There are several contrivances in use among leading players, each generally the invention of the man who uses it, but none has come in to general favor. Highlanders are a conservative race, and they are not willing to make any changes on their much-loved instrument. It would, however, be well if they would take this matter into consideration, and do something to render unnecessary that preparatory tuning which many people find so unpleasant – that is if it is possible to prevent the reeds getting wet while wet breath is blown into the instrument. The bellows of course gets over the difficulty, but we hardly wish to see a bellows attached to the Highland Bagpipe. It would not then be Highland.”
From The Highland Bagpipe. Its History, Literature and Music, by W.L. Manson, Alexander Gardener Publisher, London, 1901.
There in the humbler mood of peace, he stands:
Before him, pleas’d are seen the dancing bands.
In mazy roads, the flying ring they blend,
So lively frame’d they seem from earth t’ascent.
Four gilded straps the artist’s arm surround:
Two knit by clasps, and two by buckles bound.
His artful elbow now the youth essays.
A tuneful squeeze to wake the sleeping lays.
With labouring bellows thus the smith inspires-
To frame the polished lock, the forge’s fires.
From The Maid of Gallowshiels, by W. Hamilton of Bangour (ca 1725) (Bellows Sketch by W. Richmond Johnston)
Then bagpipes of the loudest drones,
With muffling, broken, winded tones.
Whose blasts of air in pocket shut
Sound filthier than from the gut.
And make a viler noise than swine,
In windy weather when they whine.
From writer Samuel Butler (ca. 1760)
“But there is a limit to what can be done with such a narrow technical medium and by the middle of the 18th century pipe music had more or less exhausted its possibilities. Most of the pipe music composed since that date has either been poor in quality or unashamed pastiche.”
From A Pocket Guide to Scottish Culture by Maurice Lindsay.
I’ll devise thee brave punishment for him. Strike up pipers!”
From Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare.
The Piper’s Philosophy:
It’s all the same to me
War or Peace.
I’m killed in war
And hung during peace.
(Quotes on this page sent in by Alan Morley, N.A.AL.B.P. member from Ontario)
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
The nominations received for the N.A.AL.B.P. executive committee overwhelmingly supported the current lineup, i.e., no other nominations were offered. Due to operational considerations the committee has reshuffled itself as follows: Brian McCandless – Chairman and Journal Editor; Alan Jones – Overseas Advisor; Mike MacNintch – General Adviser; and Michele McCandless – Journal Coordinator.
At the end of the summer, 1992, John Addison suffered a severe stroke. We extend our sympathies to John and his family and continue to hope for his recovery.
Historic Tune Research
Stuart Mowbray, a new N.A.A.L.B.P. member, wrote in for those who enjoy the musicological aspect of Lowland music. There is a book which we were not aware of called The British Broadside Ballad and its Music, by Claude M. Simpson, Rutgers University Press, 1966. Stuart writes. “This book is only somewhat useful for pipes, and is exclusively concerned with ballads, but does have the music and history of many Scots and lowland tunes, and often details of their use over the years in various London musical plays… “
18th Century Re-enactments
Ken Bloom, an N.A.A.L.B.P. member, wrote in asking for more information on 18th century tunes, stories, history, instruments, etc. He is an active member of an 18th century re-enactment and living history group called The North Carolina Rangers. They are scheduling an upcoming 18th century Scottish encampment at the Moore’s Creek Battlefield State Park at the end of June. The part is located about 25 miles north of Wilmington, North Carolina, and the camping will be authentic. Anyone interested in participating should contact Ken.
Pipers’ Convention Noted
Dirty Linen magazine (Issue 43. Dec/Jan 92/93) featured a pictorial review of the 8th Annual North American Northumbrian Piper’s Convention. Among the photographs shown were shots of Hamish Moore, Gordon Mooney, Ray Sloan, Mike MacHarg and his many bagpipes, and a crazy group photo on the steps of the North Hero Town Hall.
Kerr Todd, an N.A.A.L.B.P. member and excellent piper from Michigan, sent the Editor a cassette of himself playing original and other modem tunes on his Scottish smallpipes. This format for correspondence is highly encouraged among pipers; those who wish to correspond with Kerr can write to him.
F Y I (continued)
Books Back in Print
Unicorn Ltd., Inc. offers many reprinted books of piping, piping history, and Scottish history. Among the books with sections dealing with lowland pipes are such classics as: The Highland Bagpipe, by W.L. Manson (1901); A Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe by Joseph MacDonald (1803); The Compleat Tutor for the Pastoral or New Bagpipe. by J. Geoghegan (c. 1746); and The Scots Musical Museum by James Johnson and Robert Bums (1787-1803). For a catalog write to: Unicorn Ltd., Inc., P.O.Box 397, Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, 26525.
Sending Money Internationally
For those of us who often need to send currency overseas for such things as pipes, books, etc., getting the currency there in the correct denomination is not always straightforward nor inexpensive. A great substitute for an international money order brought to our attention by our local newspaper is Ruesch International. They can supply you with a check in any of 27 different currencies for recipients who live in a country whose currency is convertible to U.S. Dollars, which obviously includes Great Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe. To obtain a check call ….. Tell them the amount you want the check for and in what currency. For example, specify $50 worth of British pounds, or specify 50 British pounds. They will quote you the cost based on that day’s exchange rate plus $2 service charge. You then send them a check that day and your exchange rate is locked in (unfortunately they do not accept credit cards). When they receive your check they’ll mail the foreign check to you. If you want them to mail the check directly overseas, you need to provide them with the address and the service fee in this case is $5. Finally, since many local banks no longer offer “tip packs” for departing travelers, Ruesch will sell you foreign cash. You can call and order a minimum of $25 worth. The charge is I % of the total with the minimum charge being $2 and the maximum charge being $10.
Gordon Mooney’s Tutor and Tune Books
Many of you have phoned or written to the Editor about how to obtain Gordon Mooney’s tutor book and collection of Choicest Tunes. One option is to order them both directly from Gordon at: Piper’s Croft, He can be reached by phone 24 hours a day. Domestically, the books may be obtained from Andy’s Front Hall, a reliable mail order supply house.
Ellen Turley, a member from Connecticut and Editor of the Northeast News… of the E.U.S.P.B.A. wrote in to let members of the N.A.A.L.B.P. know that classified ads may be taken in their newsletter. A few lines are only $2, a business card is $6.25, a quarter-page ad is $14.50, 1/2 page ad is $30, and full page ad is $50.
SOME CURIOUS ENGRAVINGS
As Editor of the Journal, it frequently happens that members send me pictures, drawings, and copies of old engravings. On the following five pages and on the frontispiece of this issue are six engravings that have turned up and which have some bearing on the colloquial history of our beloved bellows pipes.
The first of these, and certainly the oldest of the bunch, is from a page in Father Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie Universelle, first published in 1636, in France. It depicts a bellows bagpipe called a Sourdeline, or Italian Musette. As a design it looks cumbersome, but it carries accessories found on later pipes of the British Isles and Ireland. For example, it has all the chanters and drones plugged into a common stock, with the reeds seated in the stock itself, as with Egan’s union pipes (see article and photos in Journal #3, page 30) and with many pastoral bagpipes of Scotland. It also has extensive key work which foreshadows the keys on the French Musette du Cour, the Northumbrian smallpipe, and the regulators of Scottish and Irish pipes.
The second is a simple French musette which appeared in C. E. Borjon’s Traite de la Musette, published in 1672 in Lyons. The musette’s drones were bored within a block of wood or ivory, called a shuttle drone, and were tuned by means of leather-lined sliders in the side, called layette. Shortly after this time, the instrument was improved by Jean Hottelerre who added a second, keyed, chanter (called petit chalumeau) in a stock parallel to the first chanter which permitted the execution of higher pitched notes, extending the range of the instrument Much music was composed for the musette in the Baroque period, for example, works by Michel Pignolet de Monteclair, Jean Hotteterre, Jean Baptiste Lully, and Phillipe Chedeville.
The third engraving is an image of ‘Hale the Piper’, dating to around 1690, but depicting a piper from around 1600. Notable are the piper’s lathe, some apparently rejected parts on the floor under the lathe, the key work on the pipe chanter, and the very English provenance of the image – we don’t often connect ‘piping’ with England below the Humber river, but thanks to images like this one, we know that piping once enjoyed a real heyday throughout Britain. Dr. Roderick Cannon and John Addison, to name just two, have authored papers on English bagpipes and piping traditions.
The fourth and fifth images are of musicians set in very popular romantic contexts: the open vista and the Scots chamber. While the scene accompanying the song “On LeLinda” evokes a sense of the artist’s good intent, that of the “Scotch Wedding” would appear to have the artist’s tongue-in-cheek. Short descriptions of the images are included under each print.
Finally, our frontispiece this issue is an engraving by Walter Geikie, ca. 1830, showing a Border-region town scene with the locals whooping it up to the sound of a bellows piper. For the trivia-conscious who may be wondering where they’ve seen this before, the piper’s image has been used by Hamish Moore as his promotional logo since around 1985.
If you come across old prints or drawings which you think would be appropriate for us to share, please feel free to send them in to the Editor.
Engraving from Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie Universelle (1636) showing a Sourdeline. or Italian musette. The pipe was bellows blown and carried two chanters and two complex drones with keys. all in a common stock. and may have served as the inspiration for later bagpipe designs of the British Isles.
“Before three monarchs I my skill did prove
Of many lords and knights bad I the love;
There’s no musician e’er did I know the peer
Of HALE THE PIPER in fair Darby-shire.
The consequence in part you here may know,
Pray look upon his Hornpipe here below.”
Engraving attributed to Sutton Nicholls, ca. 1690, of an otherwise unknown piper named ‘Hale’. This one appears to be a copy of the original, which is housed in the British Museum (Cat. # 1851-3-8-352). Note the lathe on the right, the broken pipe parts on the floor, and the key on the chanter. The poem and a bit of music accompany the original engraving. A study of the piece by Jon Swayne concludes that the artist was attempting to depict a personage of an earlier time, say. c. 1600, which is consistent with the fellow’s garments. This copy was kindly sent in by Alan Morley. of Sudbury. Ontario.
Engraving by George Bickham accompanying music in his The Musical Entertainer. Volume 1, Charles Corbett Publishers. London. 1740. The piper has no blowpipe. and his chanter/drone configuration is reminiscent of the French cabrette, a one-drone bellows-blown bagpipe long associated with shepherds and whose name means ‘goat’.
Engraving in George S. Emmerson’s Scotland Through Her Country Dances, Galt House. London. Ontario. 1981. The image is certainly 18th century and appears to be a parody of Scottish customs. The pipe is a species of pastoral or union pipe. Notice the ‘Scotch Pint’ behind the piper’s chair and the blatant mockery of traditional gender roles played out in the image.
O’ER THE BORDER
(Subtitled: Have Pipes; Will Travel.) by Alan Jones
Having taken a trip to Northumberland and Southern Scotland in October of 1991, and subsequently contemplated writing about my “voyage” and my experiences, it seemed somewhat appropriate and fitting to use the above noted title; my inspiration being taken from Gordon Mooney’s recording of Lowland piping of the same name – the connection for which will be apparent later in this article. The frequency with which I constantly find myself carrying bagpipe boxes in and out of transport vehicles (both road and airborne varieties) has also suitably allowed for the subtitle. Events began with the usual Jones’ last minute 11th hour preparations, and three fully packed pipe cases – instead of the desired two – on account of my taking many more bagpipes than had originally been deemed practical (This scenario, I have come to realize, is part and partial of an inherent default in my character !) Enact plan “Z” !
Three JAM PACKED pipe cases later – – – – – (the size that must fit under an aircraft seat or in an overhead storage rack), making in all, 20 odd sets in 3 cases, 4 pairs of bellows in a rucksack (backpack) and a tape recorder, tapes, mic; batteries, camera, films, passport et al in a shoulder bag. Clothes 1 Oh, no room for clothes – I’ll have to buy these as and when required when I get to the U.K. (Is the situation well illustrated ?)
Rush to catch the aerocar to the airport phew, just made it !
Having talked my way past about half a dozen officials, each time explaining what was in the boxes and what was the reason for my having so many with me (why, how, when, why not, who gave you permission, I insist, what ever’s in those boxes, looks very strange on the X-ray, etc; etc;) I eventually managed to relax on the upper deck of the 747 with all my boxes intact, still close at hand, and fully in my possession.
A slightly turbulent but uneventful transatlantic flight saw me disembarking at London, Heathrow, with my trolly-full of bagpipes. “Anything to declare 1” Sure – better declare the pipes before they “declare me”, and have all three boxes open and the 20 sets fully displayed on the counter “tout de suite” ! “You’re not leaving any of these in the country 1″ _ _ Pass _ _ . A quick change from international to local flights soon found me in terminal 4 and onto a connecting flight to Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland – the true home of the” Geordie” pipes. ” Taxi please,” and in next to no time I was at the Rutherford School Northumbrian Pipers’ Society annual competitions to connect with pipemaker Colin Ross.
It was certainly wonderful to meet up with Northumbrian piping personalities and old acquaintances including Colin, Anthony Robb, Ray Sloan, Adrian Schofield (who has recently issued a fine recording of Billy Pigg’s music), Roland Bibby (president of the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society), Ann Sessoms (N.P.S. Secretary), Keith Davidson, Linda Baggot (current magazine editor) and uilleann piper Joe Crane. Anthony Robb checked the Society records of attendance, and noted that I was last at the competitions in 1978 (just prior to my emigrating to Canada in 1979).
The competitions proceeded with the overseas class results, novice, junior, beginners, intermediate, the open class (which was won by Anthony) and concluding with duet classes for smallpipes, followed by pipe making competition results, mixed instruments with smallpipes (duets) and finally the results and presentation of trophies. Very interesting to observe what is now happening in Northumbrian piping after my 13 plus years of absence from the competitions; in particular, some players now using shuttle drone pipes and no pipers entering this years Half Long category. (It may be such that players are so drawn to the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society activities now taking place north of the border).
Following the conclusion of proceedings, we loaded up the bagpipe paraphernalia into Colin’s
car, and drove off to his house for a traditional British fish and chip supper. Wonderful! (Thus including a little inherent nostalgia for an ex – patriot). Having shown Colin some of my “new” old goodies in Scots Smallpipes, we set off for a Northumbrian pipers’ pub session in Rothbury. Much good chat and conversation was exchanged along the way, and on arrival, I was amazed to see as many as 40 Northumbrian pipers playing together. (With Highland and Scottish smallpipers playing next door). Here I met Ian MacDonald – pipe major of the Neilson and District Pipe Band, who was playing a “D” set of shuttle drone pipes made by Dave Shaw, which had a Scottish smallpipe chanter in it. Ian has an old 18th century set of Pastoral pipes in his possession – 2 drones, no regulator – chanter of different manufacture to drones – along with a gold plated full set of Taylor Uilleann pipes.
Well, jet lag seems to be possibly with me and I feel as if I haven’t slept for days! But the adrenalin is flowing, the chat with Colin is great, the music is heartwarming and the ambiance is magic! Is it Friday? Saturday? or Sunday ? – – – – -!! Ray Sloan is playing his Scottish smallpipes next door too, and again, Ian MacDonald plays his Shuttle pipes.
As I sat next to Anthony Robb, it was wonderful to hear him play his smallpipes and fiddle. At one moment, Anthony asked “where are your pipes?” “In a box at Colin’s” was the reply. “Come on, strap these on and play a few tunes!” A lovely set of Bill Hedworth drones with a new chanter made by Ray Sloan. A sheer delight to play – such a lightweight yet beautifully balanced set both musically and aesthetically. Session over, time to drive back to Colin’s for a bite to eat and bed. Great piping conversation before lights out and jet lag totally upon me – – – – – -.
Another day dawns (but only figuratively speaking that is, as I must certainly have been sleeping off some of that transatlantic time change) – the phone rings, and I wake up. Colin calls me – “it’s for you Alan; it’s Gordon Mooney.”
Having stumbled down stairs, I did manage to tell Gordon my latest bagpipe joke – (“What’s the difference between a bagpipe and a chainsaw ?” “A chainsaw has dynamic range ”’) – following which arrangements were thus made for the itinerary of my pending visit (raid 1) north of the border, for attendance at the Lowland and Border Piper’s Society seminar, and for defining specifically what we’ll be doing during the coming week.
Following breakfast, Colin and I set to looking into what needed doing to my pipes. First to be taken out of my “box of tricks” was the ivory and silver concert G set that Colin had made for me in 1986 (ordered in 1976, received in 1986). Much fine tuning, fixing leaking key pads, drone tongues on reeds, replacing and oiling key pads, adjusting the chanter reed, and generally giving it its 5000 mile service. Next, after having gone through all the myriad of chanters on the shelf, and verifying what might possibly be for sale, I pulled out (amongst other things), a beautiful “A” Scottish smaIlpipe chanter made of Thai(land) ebony, nickel silver plated brass and imitation ivory. A superb chanter that I could not resist purchasing. The overtones were something to be heard. Exquisite sound with this particular reed, and I such wonderful craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal. Having fine tuned some of the holes + oiled the chanter, it was then on perfect pitch at A = 440 Hz. SOLD !I We then turned to the “D” Scottish smallpipe chanters that I had brought with me, along with the “D” smallpipe drones. The same procedure was followed – oiling, fine tuning some of the holes. It was just like being at the dentist, with the dental drill removing material from the chanter(s) – only MORE painful ! (Emotionally speaking that is !) However, the end result was a more refined tuning, intonation and sound. Colin also did a little scraping on the reeds to bring the pressure and tuning to finer perfection. (Although I would personally add, that any work that Colin undertakes, is total perfection).
The new “A” Scottish smallpipe chanter is to go with my existing “D” Scots smallpipe drones whereby if the bass (D) drone is shut off and the high (d) drone is tuned up to “e”, then combined with the existing (middle) “A” drone – originally used as the 5th drone in the key of “D” but now acting as
the bass drone in the (new) key of “A” – one can play in the key of “A” with this arrangement to great effect; thereby only necessitating one set of drones. Colin explained to me that he likes to retain the existing traditional 3 drones of the Border/Lowland pipes; and should a low” A” drone be required, likes the idea of interchanging this drone with the low “D” drone of the “D” pipes, rather than adding a fourth drone. I have had experience with both arrangements, and can see the merits of both 3 and 4 drone sets.
We then turned to the”B flat/A” set that also had been made for me by Colin, and was brought along to re-set up/balance and tune; particularly with respects to the unbalanced drone reeds. The same procedure was followed; namely – oiling, removing material from individual holes, scraping drone reeds (cane tongue/metal body), and generally improving tuning and sound. The end result was an incredibly great sounding set of Scots smallpipes with “A/B flat” chanters – similarly utilizing only one set of tunable drones.
On one of my “D” chanters with a flattened 7th, Colin proceeded to fill in two of the holes (for the 6th and 7th intervals) with blackwood filings and superglue ! Another fine job and much more comfortable to play. Repose time for a cup of tea and toast to round off a fabulous day.
Monday, the 14th of October – and another great day spent at Colin’s house, during which time I heard a wonderful recording of the Canadian song “A Scarborough Settlers Lament,” with Colin playing Northumbrian pipes to back up the solo vocals.
We set to work on this particular day, on the antique Pastoral pipes. Colin proceeded to take the whole riveted joint/bend of the bass drone apart to fix some major leakage problems – having determined that the rivets holding the bass drone section together at the turn would in fact have adverse effects on the acoustical chamber of the bass drone function, in that these rivets were actually going straight through the drone bore.
We both worked on removing tarnish with emery paper, following Which, Colin buffed up the brass on the buffing wheel. A magnificent job, and certainly his years of experience makes him one of the finest restorers of old pipes that I’ve known. It is a knowledge that is gleaned from years of practical experience and the access he has had to old sets of pipes when he was curator of the Cocks collection in the Blackgate Museum in Newcastle. He has a special knack of bringing the pipes back to restored condition, without ever loosing the characteristics of the fact it is an old instrument.
He worked on oiling, shellacking and cleaning up (with emery paper and very fine steel wool) both the metal parts and wooden sections and joints – whereby he brings the whole set back to pristine condition – without ever loosing the inherent signs of age and time that only an old set can obtain. A full days work on the pastoral set gave, at the end of the day, a magnificent appearance to this wonderful old instrument.
At 6.30 p.m., following a full days work of pipe restoration, Richard Butler (the Duke of Northumberland’s piper) and Francis arrived to pick me up and take me out for dinner. Wonderful to see Richard again and catch up on news. Later that evening, he “presented” me with the two sets of Northumbrian small pipes that I actually owned – but which he had been looking after for the last five years for me. (Instruments which had originally been obtained through Richard). One ivory set made by William Hall, the Duke of Northumberland’s piper at the turn of the 20th century, and the other, a set made in 1931 by William Cocks – the great pipe collector (whose pipes made up the majority of pipes in the Blackgate Museum, and which now constitutes the majority of pipes moved to the new bagpipe museum in the Morpeth Chantry). This particular Cocks set came from the Forster Charlton collection. Forster was the one person who was responsible, more than any other individual, for keeping the Northumbrian pipes “alive” when interest was at it’s lowest ebb in the 1950’s and early 60’s. Northumbrian piper Joe Hutton informed me that at this time, there were probably no more than about 12 active players. It is thanks to Forster’s foresight, that we have some of the most significant recordings of Billy Pigg’s playing.
Richard also showed me his set of 1930’s Half Long pipes – made by the Highland pipemaker,
Robertson, in Edinburgh to the specifications of William Cocks. (This is the same Mr. Cocks of Cocks and Bryant – who wrote/compiled the Northumbrian pipe making book, and who was also author of the extensive section on bagpipes in Groves [precised in the Oxford] dictionary of music).
A great evening concluded with much good chat about old times and old acquaintances.
Up at 7.30 a.m. – Richard dropped me off in Blyth to visit Matt Seattle who has been doing a great job publishing traditional music. Wonderful to meet and visit Matt, and to see all the great tune books he has published over recent years making much of the older and inaccessible repertoire more widely available to present day players.
The next exercise was to take public transport to get over to see Robbie Greensit and Ann Sessoms of Heriot and Allen renown. Having taken a bus along the coast, and then a metro train, I arrived at the Greensit residence in West Monkseaton a little before lunch.
Great to see Robbie again, and to view both pictures and some recent examples of his latest creations. Robbie has developed exquisite craftsmanship and taste with his smallpipe making. I often think that the style of his Scottish smallpipe drones are somewhat along the style of the drones depicted in the well known print – ” Geordie Sime, he was a famous piper in his time.” (I have sometimes heard the reference to this type of drone design being called “champagne glass” style drones). Not content with one set of his pipes, I obviously have to order something new (!) in that I have been once again definitely and suitably impressed with what he is now creating/making. I had previously ordered two pairs of his bellows, and this was the appropriate time to collect them – two more examples of refined work from the Heriot and Allen workshop.
After some good chat and piping lore, that famous lowland piper by name of Mr. Gordon Mooney arrived – all ready to smuggle both me and my 20 or so sets of pipes across the border into Scotland (!) – but not before tea and scones in Morpeth – and a visit to the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum, where I met up with resident curator Ann Moore, along with once again – Robbie and Ann who were assisting with preparations for the evening concert at the museum. Ann Sessoms (who is in fact from Virginia), as well as being secretary to the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society, is now assistant curator of the museum also.
There did not seem to be as many pipes on display as I remember at the Blackgate Museum, but there were certainly one or two exquisite examples of old Border pipes and a magnificent Pastoral pipe to be seen. In particular, a beautiful set made by Robert Reid, who as well as making exquisite Northumbrian Small pipes, has made some of the finest Union and Lowland (Border) pipes I have ever seen. Reid, who lived on Tyneside (and who died in 1834), although an umbrella maker by profession, turned out many exquisite sets of pipes – I have seen three sets of his Union Pipes – and it is his workmanship that has often been used to set the standards by which other pipemakers work is judged. His son James, continued in his fathers pipe making footsteps and later went on to fully develop the 17 keyed Northumbrian pipe chanter.
An interesting feature at the museum, is that by having a pair of headphones, as one views a particular set of pipes – by pressing a button on the exhibition case – one can listen to recorded music played on an example of the particular pipe being viewed.
Off we set – Gordon, Alan, pipes et al. What a beautiful drive through to Rothbury and on up the Coquet valley to Otterburn (place of the famous border frays and battle between the Armstrongs and the Douglas’- the renown cattle raiders), then up over the Northumberland moors towards Carter Bar and the Scottish border.
There is something so breathtaking and wonderful in the evocative landscape of the open moorlands of Northumberland, and for me, it creates a very special inner feeling that is hard to fully describe. Adrian’s (Roman) Wall and Keilder water off in the hills to the south and west, and ahead, the lowlands of Scotland, reaching out to touch the boundaries of England’s most north easterly kingdom. These are the beautiful Cheviot Hills where Northumbrian pipers like Joe Hutton, Tommy Breckons and
Billy Pigg spent so much of their working lives. The autumn greens, browns and yellows of the foliage was breathtaking in all its glorious seasonal colour and contrasts.
Much piping lore and jokes were exchanged as we sped on, closer and closer to the Scottish border, and within a relatively short time, we were over the top of Carter Bar and looking down at the expanse of beautiful border hills and mountains as far as the eye could see. It was certainly some of the most impressive scenery I have ever seen, and as dusk was approaching, one could witness spectacular rain clouds off towards the coastal east and the setting sun beginning to fade from view in the western sky.
At this point in time, and to “set the scene”, it was Gordon’s idea to play his recording of ‘O’er the Border’ on the car cassette player. How appropriate for my first visit to this wonderful region so steeped in history, folklore, and border piping. A very moving and emotional moment indeed,
As Gordon continued to give me a potted history of the region, on we sped to the border town of Jedburgh. Jedburgh is a beautiful town containing much history and fine architecture. With darkness now almost upon us, we passed the impressive floodlit house of Mary Queen of Scots (in which is housed the Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society 10th anniversary display/exhibition of antique lowland pipes).
By the time we reached Gordon’s home at Newstead, just south of Melrose, the sun had fully set. Formal welcomes over, Barbara (Mooney) set out some great oat cakes (a Scottish delicacy??) and tea over which we further chatted, told stories and caught up on both historical and current discussions and conversation. Gordon’s wonderful Scottish wit passed away a considerable portion of the evening; although we did try to play the set of Robertson Half Longs (1930’s) that Richard Butler had lent me. Unfortunately, on account of not having a suitable bellows to fit and following numerous unsuccessful attempts to have myself and Gordon respectfully try to hold the blowpipe in place (quite a comical sight I might add), we eventually gave up and went back to more tea and chat – following which, retirement to bed appropriately concluded another action packed day of piping related activities.
Wednesday the 16th of October – I woke up at 7:30 to take in a beautiful view down the Tweed valley towards Melrose. However, my immediate thoughts were towards going south of the border again for the day (fully utilizing and planning my time to best advantage), to visit Lance Robson, Richard Butler, David Burleigh, Ray Sloan and once again, Colin Ross.
Barbara on getting up, informed me that she had had a very vivid dream about me (!!) – “flying” all over the place in my usual manner !” Cornflakes – tea – and time to go – in the Mooney’s self drive, no hire car! 70 miles to get to Lance’s house in Hartburn for 9:30 a.m. at which time I was to be taken over to meet Richard Butler and collect all those pipes I had (inadvertently) left with him the previous day.
Having taken a beautiful drive down past Jedburgh – viewing the impressive shades of autumn I’d missed during the twilight hours on my previous days journey north, I continued on up over Carter Bar and back across the border into England. The sun was glistening on the early morning dew, and a beautiful rainbow appeared, with sunbeams all around, as they drew water from the little loch just off to the west. The foliage colours were wonderful and the mountain views towards the east were breathtaking.
Down over the moors of Northumberland once again, past Otterburn and Cambo and Wallington Hall – the longtime residence of Northumbrian pipers Jack Armstrong and Patricia Jennings – and then eventually to Lance Robson’s house at Hartburn. Phew – not bad – only 9:35 !
Having changed cars, I was now with one of the regions best guides – a man who certainly knows the history and topography of the county of Northumberland probably as well as anyone.
I was chauffeur driven, and off we sped to meet Richard (Butler) and collect my pipes in Ashington. Meeting times were all prearranged, so having made good time with Richard, and with but minutes to spare, off we then sped to see pipemaker David Burleigh at his pipe making workshop in Longframlington. What a wonderful place to visit – all those early pictures of pipers and pipe making on
display. Great to visit David’s “shop” again, where I was honoured to be given the opportunity to purchase an exquisite Tom Clough chanter, and another very rare find – a superb (partial) example of an 18th century Scottish smallpipe or possibly an early 3- droned Northumbrian smallpipe. It consisted of a well preserved main drone stock – beautifully aesthetic and superbly crafted, with the keyless chanter, and one and a half drones – the one fully remaining drone having a chain on it. (Gordon Mooney later viewed the instrument and made some interesting comments – namely, that it possessed features that were more characteristic of Northumbrian pipes rather than Scottish smallpipes – and that the chain was much more an English decoration rather than a Scottish one.) I personally observed that the keyless chanter had a long recessed diameter at the base of the chanter – as does the modern Northumbrian pipe – for the purpose of locating the sole bushing. This particular set came originally via Henry Stark in London (the maker of the Brian Boru pipes at the turn of this century), and was received by David from a pipemaker in Northern Ireland. Quite a wonderful find for me, thanks to David. Time to depart once more! After a quick roadside snack, Lance and I sped off for a return visit to Colin Ross in Whitley Bay, to finalize my purchase of some Scottish smallpipe chanters and a “C” Northumbrian pipe chanter. Once at Colin’s, we set to work on finalizing my specific requirements, and one of his comments was “it’s quite amazing how many pipes this guy orders!” Besides the aforementioned and what I had already taken, I ordered two new sets (as well as the blackwood and silver Northumbrian set already on the books) – a 1/2 Long set based on an R. Reid set in the bagpipe museum (playing in “A”), and also a “G” set of 1/2 Long/Border pipes – the drones of which were already turned out of holly wood – only the chanter of which needed to be made. This set has the “acorn or tulip” style drone ends. Both sets blow at a lovely easy pressure – a feature – along with the superb overtones – that Colin always manages to obtain with his pipes – whatever the set. Business concluded, we rushed back to Hartburn to freshen up and then traveled down to Morpeth where Lance Robson was giving a Northumbrian pipe lesson. Following the lesson, we went up to Alnwick to meet Anthony Robb (the Northumbrian piper). It was a very blustery and cool night as we headed for Alnwick Moor and Anthony’s house. Well, we managed not to connect, so Lance and I stopped off in the Shepards Bush Inn to take a drink before heading back to Hartburn and a well earn’t night’s rest.
Thursday the 17th of October – another visit to Richard Butler – this time at the college where he works. Richard informed me that he first started on an Elliott set of pipes – 4 drones, 11 keyed chanter (1934 – 36 period set). He eventually sold this set to obtain firstly a Jack Armstrong set and later a David Burleigh and Colin Ross set.
It really was a beautiful sunny blustery autumn day, and after leaving Richard, we took a lovely drive back through Morpeth; and of course a visit there couldn’t be complete without yet another sojourn to the Bagpipe Museum. Pleasant chat with Ann Moore (the curator), bought a few tapes, and then back to Lance’s for me to undertake an interview with him.
As always, Lance was wonderful driving me around – he knows all the little “nooks and crannies” and picturesque back roads, and during my guided tours with him, I also get much topographical history and piping lore to complement the travel. So much fascinating and valuable information about old pipers and their traditions.
Back once more at Hartburn, I set up my tape recorder to interview Lance and to glean a little more insight into his vast wealth of knowledge about Northumbrian Pipes and pipers. He has been personally connected with the Northumbrian pipes for nearly 60 years, has known such greats as Tom Clough, Billy Pigg and Jack Armstrong, and has a dedication and energy for smallpipe playing even now, that is the envy of many. (It is not at all uncommon to find Lance, out of sheer enthusiasm, to be making annual “pilgrimages” to North America and traveling right across Canada and into the United States to both teach and meet other smallpipe players). It was mentioned to me that a poster advertising Lance playing Northumbrian Pipes was dated 1936.
At Hartburn, I loaded up my paraphernalia, said goodbye to Lance (and as he reminded me, “To pipers there are no strangers; just friends that haven’t met”), and subsequently sped off to visit David Burleigh once more on my way back to Scotland.
As I drove over Longhorsley on my way to Longframlington, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky – which so wonderfully complemented the impressive autumn colours and a clear view out to the east and the North Sea.
On arriving at David’s, he presented me with a new bag cover and some drone extensions for my ivory pipes. All produced overnight! (Now that is service !) I was also fortunate to view the ElIiott drones that Richard had referred to as being his first set.
Off I sped, up the Coquet Valley once more – to call in on Joe and Hanna Hutton in Rothbury. Always such a pleasure to visit them, and no trip to Northumberland is complete without such a visit.
We had great conversation, tea and biscuits, and as is always the case on these visits, Joe is often kind enough to let me undertake a little interviewing and taping. Joe’s piping is always such a delight to listen to – he usually has a new tune to show, and he is certainly amongst the last of the few remaining practicing pipers linking us to the older generation of players. It is fair to say that Joe has been piping continually for almost 40 years. He plays an ivory set of pipes made by Erington Thompson of Sewingshields (1870’s period of manufacture).
I said my goodbyes and drove on up the (Coquet) valley – stopping and taking pictures (between rain showers) as I traveled. Yet again the evocative landscape and autumn hues of yellows and foliage browns were to be seen everywhere. Onto the A69 and once again on towards Carter Bar and the Scottish Border.
Once on the top at Carter Bar, I stopped to take photos of breathtaking views over the mountains. The Northumberland moors and hills to the south and in front of me the Cheviots and the hills of Roxburghshire. I was also inspired to listen to “O’er the Border” another time – to fully set the scene. It was cool, but exhilarating, as I breathed in the refreshing mountain air.
Back into the car and on the road again, down into Jedburgh and on to Newstead and Melrose. I certainly did have difficulty finding the Mooney residence a second time around. When I came two days earlier it was dusk and I wasn’t driving. This time, I was the driver and it took a whole hour of stopping, starting, asking the way … going round in circles 3 times until I eventually found a pub and made a desperate phone call. Directions in hand, I eventually arrived back in Newstead, having just by minutes missed the Mooney’s musical entourage on their way to perform at a concert.
Time for a short rest and quick bite and a cup of tea before setting off to find the concert venue in Galashiels. Having lived in North America for almost 14 years, I must admit that my distance perceptions have changed somewhat. Driving what seemed to be a very short distance/time, I arrived in Galashiels – and proceeded to drive around the one way system for almost 30 minutes; having made numerous enquiries, I did eventually locate the Old Gala House where the concert was being held. Good chat, and a chance to see the sound and costume “check”, with Gordon dressed in his Border Piper’s period costume of feathered cap and gaters.
The concert featured poetry in local dialect, by writer Walter Elliott, which was set to music under the title of “A Song for Yarrow.” Featured throughout the work were songs, music and verse utilizing Scottish small and Border pipes, Northumbrian and electronic bagpipes, keyboards, bassoon and flute (Gordon and Barbara), along with Elspeth SmelIie on Celtic harp and vocals, and Walter Elliott reciting the prose. A beautiful concert performance with lovely musical harmonies encompassing a delightful musical journey through the Yarrow Valley. The evening concluded with a social chat and drink at a cozy pub in Melrose.
The next day started with a breakfast encompassing that local delicacy called porridge; (or as the saying goes “What do the Scots call porridge (oatmeal) ? Answer: Oat (“haute”) cuisine!”; and this little piece of humour will be appreciated by those persons with a modicum of French !)
Following breakfast, Gordon and I took a brisk walk into the town of Melrose; in particular to view Melrose Abbey and the icon of the 13th century piping pig on the abbey drainpipe. Although cold and windy, the scenery was yet again very beautiful. Following coffee and a brief architectural town tour (Gordon is a wealth of knowledge on local history), we returned to Newstead to pick up the car and take a tourists trip up the Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys. Gordon pointed out such landmarks as Sir Walter Scott’s house, and the woodlands that were initially planted by him. On we drove, up into the magnificent Yarrow Valley. Its barren beauty was breathtaking. In the lower part of the valley, Gordon pointed out natural Scots pine, birch, alder, mountain ash (rowan), hawthorn, holly and laburnum woods. (The drones of my antique border pipes are made of laburnum; I understand this indigenous wood often being used prior to the introduction of ebony and blackwood into the making of bagpipes.)
The mountains of the Yarrow Valley are bleak and barren yet have an evocative beauty all of their own. We drove on up past Yarrow Kirk (church) and the Gordon Arms Hotel – an establishment frequented by Sir Walter Scott and poet James Hogg (who was a border shepherd), and then in the distance, the Tower house – where lived Mary Scott – “the flower of Yarrow.” Fantastic colours browns, greens and yellows – the barren beauty of the valley was very “moving” – barely a tree to be seen as we continued to ascend to higher and higher elevations. Gordon pointed out a particular house in which a Mr. Tom Scott had lived. Mr. Scott had been given a set of border pipes originally owned by a Mr. Pattison of the Yarrow Valley. In 1913 Tom Scott sold this set of pipes to the Hawick Museum, and this particular set is included in the exhibition of Lowland/Border pipes on display in Jedburgh for the L and B.P.S. collogue. He also commented on numerous references turning up, of people in the area playing Border and Irish UNION/Pastoral pipes – tuned with a fifth drone.
The illustrated guided tour continued as we traveled over the mountains and down into the Ettrick Valley, past Kirkhope – the residence of the Buccleuch Clan, across Ettrick Water and dam, and on down into the lower part of the valley. On seeing some rowan trees, I made reference to the well known song, and Gordon informed me that it was Lady John Scott who wrote the words to this lovely melody. As we drove on into the town of Selkirk and past the statue of Sir Walter Scott, dusk was upon us. On we drove through Abbottsford (the home of Sir Walter) and back to Newstead to meet Barbara and collect the “gear” for the evening performance of “A Song for Yarrow” in the village of Ashkirk this (Friday) evening. I recorded the night’s concert, following which we adjourned to the nearby pub for a few local “night caps.” It was getting cool now, with frosty evenings and cool mornings – – – – -.
Saturday the 19th of October – The big day had arrived – it was one of the main reasons for my trip – the day of The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society Collogue/Seminar. Collogue in the local dialect means informal meeting and chat. Interestingly also, there is a French word “colloque” meaning “conference/meeting of specialists and experts who gather to exchange knowledge, ideas and findings appertaining to a particular subject.”
I helped Gordon load up the car, and off we sped for Jedburgh to set up for the commencement of the collogue. A chance for me to meet some old friends and subsequently make some new ones. Before proceedings began; I decided to go down to Mary Queen of Scots House and view the collection of Lowland pipes: and how impressive indeed were the old pipes thus displayed. Included were sets from modern makers like Colin Ross and Heriot and Allen – depicting various stages of manufacture and assembly. There was the Pattison pipes (that Gordon had explained came from the Yarrow Valley); and I took particular interest in one feature of the set – namely – the bellows, which was exactly the same in design and make as the bellows I have on my antique pastoral pipes – 18th century through to early 19th century, and I could see for myself in reality – what Sam Grier has explained to me on a number of occasions – that Pastoral pipes developed out of Border pipes, and Union/Irish pipes had definite influences from the Pastoral pipe. I personally feel it is something along the lines of the Northumbrian smallpipe in that they originally developed out of the Scottish smallpipe, and later had influences from the French court Musette. (Early sets had shuttle drones, and early keywork – such as on early Reid sets,
were rectangular – as are those of the Musette. Later sets incorporated circular designs on key work.) All the pipes were different in aesthetic appearance, yet there was the common theme of the traditional instrument – a conically bored chanter and three drones. One set I recall had one regulator and three very thinly turned drones. The thistle drone end design was also a significant common feature. The Border pipes had the thistle ends, whereas the smallpipes did not. There were photographs and historical texts to complement a superb exhibition, and full credit goes to Julian Goodacre and Gordon Mooney who worked so hard to get everything in order; and I truly felt that the setting of Mary Queen of Scots house was most fitting and appropriate.
I went back to the town hall, just in time for the official introduction to the proceedings. Gordon Mooney – President of the Society – explained how the Society had been originated from the conversation and ideas of 5 persons in a pub; and the Society was thus formed with these 5 persons in 1981. It was when the Society eventually moved to the School of Scottish studies in Edinburgh that things really started to happen. Since this time, the Society has gone from strength to strength.
Ethnomusicologist Peter Cooke (formerly of the School of Scottish studies) then got up to speak. Peter explained how people were looking for an alternative to the regimented traditions of Highland piping. He went on to describe how Common Stock – the Society publication/journal, was the common denominator in disseminating information about Lowland piping, and that the most important single factor was that the Society had been a catalyst in stimulating an interest in Border and Lowland piping. He informed the audience that it had taken two years to get the publication off the ground and that it was now imperative that this publication continue to be the prime mover in this catalytic process.
At this point, someone asked me if I had seen Hamish Moore stood at the back of the hall. Missed him – – – – – . Hamish I know was on his way to play in northern England, along with Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn and Northumbrian piper Chris Ormston. I did meet up with Laura MacKenzie who is from Minnesota, and has attended the Pipers Convention in North Hero (Vermont) on a number of occasions.
Peter (Cooke) continued to explain that there is no (surviving) manuscript on how the Border pipes were played (i.e. in the technique of articulation/gracing) and there was 10 years of experimentation that went into determining what works and how best to express the music on the pipes. Later, Lowland piping competitions were instigated by the Society. A tape was then played of the 1985 competition winner – and it was very evident that the Scottish smallpipes were at this time played in the style of the Highland pipe. The player was Ian MacInnes who was present today and scheduled to give an illustrated talk shortly. Different examples followed on tape including beautiful recordings of Scottish smallpipes and vocals, and smallpipes and harp.
The Society continues to “chip away” at the scattered history of Lowland piping, and today, there is certainly a demand and a need to provide courses in reed making, playing, music, and the competitions aimed at setting standards of playing. It was also important to record all the known pipes that were being currently played – especially the older ones. He made the point that inspiration does not come from a society, but from the determination, inspiration, enthusiasm and wisdom of individuals. Closing on such a pertinent point “centre stage” was given to Matt Seattle (publisher of much fine traditional music under the auspices of ‘Dragon Fly Music’), who gave an illustrated talk entitled “Compiling a repertoire for the Border Bagpipe.”
Matt commenced by stating that one can use Highland pipe music, but that there is another repertoire e.g. in respects of what Gordon Mooney had done in researching the old border music and publishing his tune books and tutor. As a very good example of a border tune, he discussed the tune “Cuckold Come Out of the Amrey” – it’s musicological construction and that it was an original Lowland pipe tune that had been preserved in the Northumbrian piping tradition. A fairly intense discussion ensued between Robbie Greensit and Matt – Matt eventually conceding to “bow to Robbie’s superior knowledge.”
Matt continued, by using the Peacock Collection to show that a large number of tunes in this
collection are actually lowland tunes adapted to the Northumbrian pipes, and he emphasized that this collection is the most important collection we have of border music.
He finished his talk by demonstrating the air and variations of “Cuckold Come Out of the Amrey” on both fiddle and Scottish Smallpipes. An appropriate conclusion to the very enlightening and informed discussion/presentation.
Ian MacInnes – radio broadcaster and ex-piper with the Tannahill Weavers was the next presenter to enlighten the audience with a talk on Alex Campbell’s “Border Journeys” – first published in 1816. In his book Campbell wrote about the state of border piping in its heyday (approx 1600 to 1750), and it is one of our only contemporary records. From 1770 to 1850 lowland piping “died a very real death.”
Campbell makes specific references to playing scales and tunes of more than 9 notes, and numerous references to UNION pipes and Border pipes. He mentions 7 pipers as being the finest of the border pipers. There were itinerant pipers who would play through the towns and at local functions for food and lodging. Pipers mentioned included John Hastie the town piper of Jedburgh – circa 1731, Geordie Sime of Dalkeith (‘Geordie Sime he was a famous piper in his time’), and James Allen of Yeltholm, who was the piper employed in the services of the Duchess of Northumberland.
Along with the Union pipe, there are references to the use of both large and small bellows, and the art of “pinching” the back (thumb) hole to obtain an extra note out of the chanter.
As rural life in the borders changed due to the industrial revolution in agricultural techniques, patronage was lost when town boroughs interest waned in having a town piper. However, this was not the case with the wealthy land owners in the Highlands, which certainly became a significant factor in the survival of the Great Highland pipe; as opposed to the course of history which the Lowland and Border pipes took.
Concluding on this pertinent point, collogue attendees recessed for a lunch break – and henceforth to the pub we did go – – – – . A little light refreshment and a great meal of steak and kidney pie.
Priorities taken care of, we returned to commence the afternoon with a wonderful display of Lance Robson’s, featuring antique Northumbrian pipes from his private collection; and some very impressive examples there were to be seen (e.g. sets by Robert Reid, John Dunn, and Jack Armstrong). Lance talked about his collection and gave historical background details to each instrument.
I was then invited to talk about my own collection – how I first got started into what I would term “the insane art of bagpipe collecting!” (Maybe I’ll one day write the pocket companion guide on this very subject “Alan Jones’ pocket companion guide to the insane art of – – – – !”) I displayed some of those sets that I had dutifully carried with me for over 3000 miles. I talked about the sets of antique Scottish smallpipes that I had been fortunate to obtain in North America, the antique MacDonald border pipe that I obtained in Canada, the Pastoral pipes, and one or two other sets that I had brought with me (or even collected ‘en route’). I briefly took time to talk about Lowland piping in the U.S.A. and Canada, and how the formation of the North American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers along with the marathon work that Brian McCandless and others had done in producing ‘The Journal’ had greatly influenced (as did ‘Common Stock” in the U.K.) the promoting of the instruments and their music on that continent, and I then showed copies of ‘The Journal’ such that attendees could see for themselves the level of enthusiasm, dedication and activity.
Pipers were then asked to play some of the various interesting sets they had brought along with them. Sets included – Gordon Mooney playing a sweet toned reproduction of the famous 1757 Montgomery set of Scottish Smallpipes made by Julian Goodacre (the original set is the earliest known set of Scottish Smallpipes we can date for certain), Jon Swayne played a beautiful newly crafted set of Half Longs in ebony and nickel silver with 4 drones (to be dutifully added to the Jones collection within days !) – which had a cutting but tonal sweetness that the attendees found most appealing. I personally consider this set (pitched in G) to be a cross between a Pastoral pipe and a French Musette Bechonnet. Pipe maker Ray Sloan then played an exquisitely toned “B flat” Scottish smallpipe of his own manufacture,
Jim Gilchrist played a richly overtoned set of Colin Ross “D” Scottish Smallpipes, a reproduction set of Border pipes from an old set in the Edinburgh museum was to be heard along with some other sets – all concluding with myself playing (a Breton Andro entitled Evit mont d’an Iliz) on my antique MacDonald (of Edinburgh) Border pipe.
The final speaker of the day was Mr. Hugh Cheape, curator of the bagpipe collections in The Edinburgh Museum. He gave an illustrated talk by showing slides, and explaining how the Scottish Highland piping tradition had distorted the history of piping. He told his audience that he had tried to make his pipe collections in Edinburgh available to all parties, and an interesting observation had been made of the fact that there were many bagpipes in museums – but very few of them were Highland pipes. The slides shown were of various pipers and different aspects of the tradition. Hugh concluded by explaining that he felt piping was a tricky subject, and to say specifically when the pipes came to Scotland was not at all easy. However, he did confirm for us that piping in the middle ages was a universal art, and when surveyed, we can conclude that piping was often by patronage of the courts and gentry.
Gordon Mooney concluded the afternoons proceedings with a musical journey through the borders – an illustrated slide presentation – augmented with history and music played by Gordon on the pipes as he showed the slides and explained the relevant topographical and historical data that he had researched and put together. A very effective conclusion to a wonderful seminar on Lowland and Border piping.
Numerous persons came around to take a look at both Lances and my pipes and to ask questions about our collecting etc; and I was personally very fortunate to get the opportunity to ask Hugh Cheape about the various antique sets in my collection that I was interested in dating.
An hour’s break before the commencement of the evening concert prompted Lance and I to take the advantage of the nearby cuisine. When one is in the British Isles, there is nothing for it but to indulge in the local delicacy of fish (be it plaice, haddock or cod) and chips, and this is exactly what we did. Wonderful!
I took the opportunity to make a quick return visit to Mary Queen of Scots house (having persuaded the administrator to let me in – even though officially closed) to take some pictures of the pipe exhibition. Daylight was almost lost, but I did get to take some very good shots of some wonderful instruments – both old and new. I hastily made my way back to the main hall, where concert preparations were under way. The concert opened with 6 Scottish smallpipers playing “D” sets of pipes – namely Jim Gilchrist, Julian and John Goodacre, Ian Macinnes, Gordon Mooney, and one other player. Barbara Mooney on flute and bassoon followed, along with Elspeth Smellie on Harp and vocals. Next up was a singer/smallpiper, then local fiddler Bob Hopkirk who included a fine selection of pipe marches in his solo set. Andy Hunter – singer and Lowland piper who has done much to promote piping by being at the forefront of the folk revival – sang and played a beautiful border pipe made by Colin Ross (a copy of a Robert Reid set in “A”). Wonderful music.
The above musicians were each invited up to give second performances, and Gordon and Barbara Mooney concluded the evening festivities with firstly a Border pipe solo from Gordon of “The Souters of Selkirk” (composed in 1620), and “The Sour Plums of Galashiels” (composed around the 1700’s). Barbara joined him for a duet of the well known “Jamie Allen” with whistle harmonies weaving in and out of the pipe melody. They continued to play different tunes interspersed with harmonies and then effectively returning to the main melody of Jamie Allen. Gordon played a superb penultimate set of tunes on Border pipes – always innovative and always with a flare of brilliance; concluding with a magnificent rendition of “O’er The Border.” A fitting and appropriate point to conclude the collogue and this article.
Lance and I traveled with our car load of about 50 sets of pipes late that evening to Hartburn (Northumberland). Much chat about the days events on the 60 mile journey back.
Next morning I concluded a little extra interviewing with Lance at his home, following which he took me to Newcastle airport to pick up my hire car and meet Ray Sloan.
Ray and I traveled over to a local farm where I had heard there were a set of Robert Reid pipes-
possibly for sale. No sale – but worth the try. I followed Ray over to Bywell, passing on the way, the farm where pipemaker J.J. Armstrong worked, and a small detour to where Sir John Fenwick lived – Fenwick Hall and Fenwick church – one of the oldest churches in Northumberland.
Once at Ray’s, I took a look at his workshop and tried some of his Scottish small and Northumbrian pipes. Exquisite workmanship – a sheer delight to play, and Ray is certainly establishing himself with his pipe making as being one of the truly great makers of the current generation.
With not too much time to spare, it was soon time to say goodbye and make tracks for more southern parts.
My piping exploits concluded on my way back to London, with a great visit with Jon Swayne near Glastonbury, Somerset, to collect my new 1/2 Longs and get a ‘crash’ course on how to play them. Whilst there I had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent set of Kenna Union (Uilleann) pipes in for re-reeding. The new pipes were a dream to play. And so concluded my piping exploits for this particular trip prior to catching my flight back to Montreal. My “shot in the arm” for one more year. Very rewarding indeed. I did pick up one or two new bagpipe jokes ‘en-route’ – – – – – “What is the definition of a bagpipe? It’s the missing link between music and noise !”
On a final note, I would like to conclude this article by quoting a section from Joseph MacDonald’s book written at the end of the heyday of Lowland piping in the early 1760’s, and first published in 1801, entitled A Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe – mostly concerning Highland piping – but during his visit to the borders region, he does describe how he personally felt about the particular indigenous species as played thus :
[APNA Editor’s Note. Please Read “s” for “f” in this archaic quotation.]
In the Low Countries, where they ufe Bellows to their Pipes, having no mufic In the Style of this Inftrument, they have enlarged the Compafs of it by adding Pinching Notes, for the better imitation of other Mufic. By this, their Chanter has the moft of the Flute Compafs. They alfo have taken away all that loudnefs and ftrength of Tone that diftinguifhes this Inftrument In a Field, or 111 any Echoing place; by weakening and altering the form of their Reeds, by which it is only fit for a Room. With this, they imitate Scotch Tunes, and Minuet &c. and fome Italian Mufic, while they have nothing for another part but their drones, which can no way anfwer the Various pafsages in a Compofition of any Compafs, as they cannot be varied any more than by fetting them to two or three particular Notes, which they muft found till they are changed. This muft prove but a pitiful Concord, and can never anfwer the defign of any part; as the Notes of a Counter, Tenor, Second, Treble, Bafs &c. muft be variegated for every fingle bar, or Pafsage.
Whilft they play this Scots, or Italian Compofition with Pipe Drones, for different parts they muft Cut and divide the Notes In a way, that deftroys both the Tafte and Style of the Compofition, “Viz. by Pipe Cuttings, which are quite falfe, & irregular, as they never· had any pIpe Compofitions to reduce or regulate Cuttings for that Inftrument. Thus a Pafsage of Correlli, Feftin or Handel, &c. played with Pipe Cuttings and a Drone, muft carry a great deal of the Authors meanIng away, and fo of Scots Airs, Minuets, Songs, &c. How wretched and infipid a Jargon this Mufic is, to a judicious Ear, is obvious. This imitation of other Mufic is what gives fuch a contemptible notion of a Pipe, becaufe it muft come fo fhort of it, even in the moft varied kind of Pipe, which is the Irifh.
This they have neither a regular fet of Mufic nor Cuttings for, but they have diverfified it into Surprizing Imitations of other Mufic.
The Low Country Pipe is tolerably well calculated for Violin Reels, & fome Pipe Jigs; but of no great Execution, as they have neither found nor ftrength of Reeds for it. The noife of their Drones drowns any Execution of the Chanter; whereas the Chanter fhould exceed the loudnefs of the Drones at leaft by five degrees, the Drones being the worft part of the Mufic. If the Low Country Chanter were taken out and play’d by itfelf, as a Hautboy, Clarinet &c. its having Pinching Notes might enable it to bear a part In a Concert with fuch Inftruments, and the Notes might be Cut In the fame way, but as it is having no proper mufic of it’s own, and being a moft infipid and unnatural Imitation of any other Mufic, except by a few Jigs and Reels, it is moft juftly efteemed all infipid Inftrumnt, by fuch as know other Mufic and don’t know the proper managment of this. Eight Notes for one continued found, fuch as Pipe drones are, are aslmuch as the compafs can well bear, without being grating to the Ear. Thus, the Style and Compafs of true Pipe Compofitions are fuch as correfpond to that one Note, the Drone’s found, which is a fifth to the D of the Chanter, and octaves to each other becaufe the Compafs and Style does not exceed eight Notes, The Contrary of this is what makes the Bellows Pipe fo shocking to the Ear, when they play pinching Notes with the Drones in the fame Tone as the eight low Notes. Pinching Notes are entirely oppofite to the proper StyIe of this Inftrument.
It certainly makes for very interesting reading in the light of our current knowledge and renaissance of the Lowland and Border bagpipe.
ALAN JONES (Originally hand written March 1992. Computer typed/completed Feb.1993.)
MORE REVELATIONS ON PASTORAL PIPING by Brian E. McCandless
A recent burst of activity on the research of the 18th century Pastoral pipe scene has uncovered some remarkable information concerning the history, fingering, repertoire, and details of the instruments themselves. Gordon Mooney, Sam Grier, Mike MacHarg, and Eoghan Ballard have been extremely helpful in this quest. Over the next few months I plan to write up a detailed account of the ‘state of Pastoral piping’, with emphasis on the 18th century history of the instrument. Eventually I plan to do a recording of selected period compositions on various pastoral pipes to evoke a sense of the musical joy it brought to its audience in those days. For now, however, I offer you a few new findings and thoughts.
1. The name: Pastoral Pipe. The instrument was already in use when John Gay wrote his ‘Newgate Pastorale’ called The Beggar’s Opera in 1728 and so was probably not called the pastoral pipe prior to then. After Gay’s ballad opera, however, it was guilt-by-association for the instrument and it’s name. Two critical connections are to be made between this pastoral comedy and the bellows-blown, muIti-drone bagpipe with a range of over 15 notes. First, there is the abstract notion of what Gay intended by the opera. The opera, which followed soon after Allan Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd, was Gay’s own poetic and parodic response to the onslaught of the “Italian style” of music (opera) in the wake of England’s golden age of music (death of Henry Purcell). Gay deplored Italian opera and, in a letter to Jonathan Swift in 1723, wrote, “There’s nobody allowed to say, I sing, but an eunuch or an Italian woman.” Swift’s response was to convince Gay to write his own ‘opera’ which would parody the Italian art and at the same time sock it to the London gentry. His work would be the hit of 18th century London and would heavily influence subsequent popular art and theatre. Secondly there is the music; Gay drew heavily on Thomas D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth: Or PilIs to Purge Melancholy, originally edited by Henry Playford in 1719-1720. All of the ‘Scotch Tunes’ used in the opera would Iater find themselves in William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius (1733). Other airs in this book come down to us as pipe tunes. Scots airs were thus brought to the London stage and became pop hits, with pipes in attendance, as Hogarth’s image of “The Beggar’s Opera Burlesqued” attests. His drawing shows the piper and instrument in reasonable clarity (see photographs in Journal 4, pp.28-29). Many of the airs in The Beggar’s Opera exceed the compass of the Lowland pipe, leaving the door open for the pipe which can play nearly two octaves – the ‘pastorale’ or ‘pastoral’ bagpipe. The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say about the word:
“pastorale: 1. Mus. a An instrumental composition in pastoral or rustic style, or in which pastoral sounds and scenes are represented; usually a simple melody in 6/8 time. b. An opera. cantata, or other vocal work, the subject of which is pastoral. 1724, Pastorale is an Air composed after a very sweet. easy, gentle Manner, in Imitation of those Airs which Shepherds arte supposed to play. 1782, In Christmas time, alI quarters of Naples resound with Pastorali or Sidlani, a kind of simple rural music, executed by shepherds upon a species of bagpipes.”
2. The geography and demography of its occurrence. Pastoral bagpipes have been located all over England and Scotland, in Canada, and in the United States. A tutorial and tune book were published in London around 1746 by 1. Geoghegan. The tune book contains tunes of Irish, Scottish, and English origin. The instrument in general seems to have been a favorite among well-to-do folks – a ‘gentleman’s instrument’. Some of the instruments were highly adorned with gems, fancy ferrules, etc. to satisfy the tastes of the upper class. In spite of this, most do not carry the name of their maker. One bagpipe, made by William Squire, was brought to Cecil County, Maryland in 1790. Presumably it was played in the United States at that time. I have photographed and measured the instrument, which has an original drone reed and cracked chanter reed (see photo in Journal 4, p.12). I built a replica of the instrument and Sam Grier has kindly made many reeds modeled after the original. More often than not, the chanter on that instrument wants to play in a major scale based on E-flat.
3. The compass and repertoire. In historic bagpipe descriptions and other verbage you can tell when an author is referring to the pastoral pipe. There may be a reference to a bagpipe with the range of the flute or hautbois (oboe) (see citation at the end of the previous article by Alan Jones, taken from Joseph MacDonald’s A Compleat Theory., 1801). In the case of the hautbois, at least, this can be taken to mean a low note of nominally C (all fingers down), a tonic note of D (lift little finger of bottom hand), and a
range of about two octaves. This kind of reference rules out the Irish pipe, since low C is not accessible. There are references to “pinching” notes, although taken alone, they can be misleading since the Lowland pipe, the Irish pipe, and the pastoral pipe all can be “pinched” to obtain high octave notes. When we consider the detailed description by MacDonald (1801), the tunes listed by Geoghegan (1746), the melodies found in the Beggar’s Opera (1728), and melodies contained in George Skene’s personal tunebooks (c.1715), we cannot escape the conclusion that from around 1700 onward, the repertoire for the pastoral bagpipe included a smattering of everything that was available to the drawing room musician of the time: Handel, Purcell, Playford, popular airs to ballads, and dance runes.
4. The fingering system. Sam Grier feels, and I am inclined to agree, that different Pastoral pipe fingering systems were employed, especially in regard to how the changeover to the second octave is made. For example, on an Irish pipe chanter, one normally uses the thumb for high D and then proceeds up from there by pinching the bag and replacing all the fingers needed for E, more or less repeating the first octave finger scale. On the pastoral pipe chanter, one may do this, or one has the option, we find, of proceeding up into the second octave by closing the chanter at C (all holes closed + pinch bag). High D is next obtained by lifting the little finger off the chanter. These two methods of reaching the second octave offer great flexibility in playing certain tunes and produce C and D notes with distinctive tonality. Geoghegan’s fingering system and this other, used by Sam Grier, were presented in Journal 2, p. 17. Yet another, earlier, system has been found – on the back cover of one of George Skene’s personal music books (ca. 1715). A facsimilie reproduction is shown below. George Skene’s travel diary and tune book are now lodged in the National Library of Scotland. A short article on his travels and writings by Keith Sanger appeared in Common Stock. Vol. 4, No.1 (1989). My thanks to Gordon for the invaluable references!
N.A.A.L.B.P. MEMBERS’ PIPING BIOGRAPHIES
On the following pages are mini-biographies of the N.A.A.L.B.P. members who responded to the questionnaire sent out in August 1992. The healthy response is indicative, we think, of an active bellows piping community and gives us motivation to continue spreading the good word about Lowland pipes, smallpipes, and other bellows blown bagpipes. After the biographical section is a complete listing of the N.A.A.L.B.P. membership for quick reference. Thank you so much to those who sent in their questionnaires, giving us the basis for an introspective issue of the Journal!
One topic on the questionnaire deserves a follow-up; that of the musical key in which Scottish smallpipe music should be shown. Nearly all who responded indicated that they preferred the ‘Highland’ system (low G to high A, no sharps indicated) since many smallpipers already read in that system. Some people suggested that, for the benefit of other musicians, the sharps be indicated so that it doesn’t look like a plagal C-scale. A few people suggested scoring music on a scale from C (under the staff) to D above middle C, which is totally appropriate for the Scottish smallpipe in D. That way, people coming from recorder, pennywhistle, oboe, and Irish piping traditions are accommodated. The Editor of this Journal is inclined to support both systems, and feels that subsequent tune books for Scottish smallpipes, whose purpose would be to communicate melodies, should try to reach the greatest possible audience. In either case, whatever system is used, the musical scale should be clearly stated so that players of other instruments can make the necessary transpositions.
[Note from APNA Editors: We found the information about the the state of bellows piping in North American in the early 1990s very interesting, but were concerned about disclosing personal information that may still be valid. After careful consideration, we have chosen to remove the names, addresses and phone numbers of the pipers who responded to this survey in order to protect their privacy.]
A piper from New York
- “I always had a vague interest in bagpipes, but the interest became more specific after hearing Alan Jones play in Lexington, Massachusetts. Then I attended 1990 North Hero event which really crystallized my interest. I received formal training from Hamish Moore’s 1991 piping school in Vermont.”
- Instruments: ‘A’ Scottish Smallpipes (Moore 1991)
A piper from Pennsylvania
- He has been playing pipes since 1985, and performs approximately 20 gigs annually.
- He writes.” I am the Founder and Director of the Balmoral Schools of Highland Piping, and am interested in Scottish Smallpipes. The schools were organized in 1978. It would be nice to have additional students at the school who were interested in both the Great Highland Pipes and the Scottish Smallpipes. If there were, master smallpipes instructors might be hired.”
- an anecdote: “A Gentleman is a person who knows how to play the pipes but (at certain times) doesn’t.”
- Instruments: ‘A’ pipes (Moore, 1985); ‘D’ pipes (Ross, mid 1980’s) ‘Bb’ Lowland pipes
- Tunes Played Frequently : High Over Bunachton; Calanish; Wee Totum Fogg; Old Bean Waltz; The Mill, The Mill O’
A piper from Pennsylvania
- He started playing the uilleann pipes in 1967, and continues to learn other styles of bagpipes. He received formal training from his Gaelic teacher, Thomas Standevern, a man whose enthusiasm for pipes matches his knowledge. He has had several individual lessons from Willie Clancy, Leo Rowsome, Matt Kiernan and Dan Dowd.
- He has made Uilleann pipes, small pipes and practice chanters.
- Instruments: Uilleann Pipes (Lamb, 1980’s); ‘C’ Uilleann (Kiernan, 1960’s); ‘A’ Northumbrian (Armstrong); Scottish smallpipes (P. Henderson, 1870’s-1880’s?)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Cailin Deas Cruite Ma Mbo Aurde Chuain; Fiafraid h do M’atheir e; Banrion na Luachra; Gleawtain Ghlas Ghaoth Dobhair
A piper from Massachusetts
- He started playing lowland pipes in 1990 while “looking for an ‘indoor alternative’ to Highland pipes and because smallpipers don’t have to wear skirts.”
- He received formal training from Tom Childs as well as through Hamish Moore’s summer session. Although he is not currently in a band/music group, he would “like to get into a mixed instrument group.”
- Instruments: ‘C’ smallpipes, (MacHarg, 1990); ‘A/Bb’ and ‘C/D’ smallpipes (Moore, 1992)
- Tunes Played Frequently: The Rushy Mountain Braes of Yarrow; Old Bean Waltz; Souters 0′ Selkirk; Planxty Fanny Power
A piper from Washington
- He first got into piping through Sandy Ross of New York, and has been playing since 1991. He plays in public about once a month with the Elliott Bay Pipe Band.
- Instruments: ‘A’ Scottish smallpipes (Moore, 1991); ‘G’ Northumbrian (D.G.B., 1979); ‘Bb’ Highland pipes (Grainger & Campbell, 1972)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Cockhold in the Amrey; Drops of Brandy; Lark in the Morning; Flying Scotsman; Come By the Hills
A piper from Maine
- He is an experienced piper who has been playing lowland pipes since 1988, and highland pipes since 1975. He has made his ‘Bb’ set of smallpipes from green heartwood. He offers pipes for sale.
- He does play informally with a music group in public. The formal training he received on smallpipes came from Greg Morrow who was teaching with Hamish in 1992.
- An anecdote to share: “While playing the highland pipes once, years ago, a neighbor called up on the phone and asked my mom if I could play ‘Far, Far Away.’ She flagged me down and asked me and I had to call him back and say that ‘No, I didn’t know how to play it, never even heard of the tune!’ He said, “I am not talking about a tune, I just want to know if you could play far, far away!'”
- Instruments: ‘Bb’ smallpipes (Dow, 1991); Highland pipes
- Frequently Played Tunes: PM George Allen; Cork Hill; Mist Covered Mountain; Road to the Isles; Loch Rannoch
A piper from New York
- She began playing smallpipes in 1991 after hearing her husband and other pipers play. She received formal training from Hamish Moore, and also from Gordon Mooney (at Piper’s Convention in Vermont). In addition, she also had some Highland pipe chanter lessons from Roddy MacDonald in 1979.
- Instruments: ‘ A, Bb’ Scottish smallpipes (Heriot & Allen); ‘A, C, D’ Scottish Smallpipes (Moore, 1988,1991)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Keelman O’er the land; Mary Scot; MiII-O (Soldier’s Return); Caliope House; Schottishe du Stockfish
A piper from Pennsylvania
- He started playing pipes in 1990 and considers himself to be a beginner. “I got into piping after hearing the Northumbrian smallpipes being played by Ged Foley (of The House Band). As a consequence, I searched for a set and was lucky to hear of and contact Alan Jones who found my n-pipes for me. I was instantly enchanted and decided to learn to play as many types of bellows blown pipes as possible.”
- He received formal training from Lance Robson.
- He has made Scottish smallpipes and is currently in process of making a set of pastoral pipes.
- Instruments: ‘F’ Northumbrian (Burley); ‘D’ Scottish smallpipes (Moore)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Chevy Chase; Wee Tatum Fogg; Hoop Her and Gird Her; Highland Laddie, Bill Charlton’s Fancy
A piper from New York
- He has been playing pipes since 1983. He got into piping after listening to Alistair Anderson play Northumbrianpipes.
- Instruments: ‘Bb’ Lowland pipes (Grainger Campbell, 1983); ‘F’ Northumbrian pipes (Burleigh, 1983); ‘Bb’ smallpipes (Heriot and Alan, 1990) ‘D’ smallpipes (Heriot and Alan, 1990)
A piper from Alberta, Canada
- She attends the Northumbrian Piping Convention in North Hero, Vermont where she has obtained both Lowland and Northumbrian small pipe training. She also plays in the Red Deer Legion Pipe Band.
- Instruments: ‘A/Bb’ Scottish smallpipes (Heriot & Allen, 1988); ‘G’ Northumbrian smallpipes (Burleigh); ‘Bb’ Highland pipes (Grainger & Campbell, 1972)
A piper from New York
- He has been playing pipes since 1990 and plays smallpipes in public about 2-3 times a year. He also plays highland pipes 12-14 times annually.
- “When practicing the Highland pipes our two golden retrievers would sit and howl – they don’t react the same way with the smallpipes – maybe it is a sign of good taste, or lack of auditory acuity in older dogs.”
- Instruments: ‘Bb’ smallpipes (Moore, 1989); ‘C’ smallpipes (Moore, 1989); ‘A’ smallpipes (Moore, 1989)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Highland Wedding; Wings; Balmoral Rathran Market; Colonel Robertson
A piper from New York
- He has been playing Lowland pipes since 1992. He saw Mike MacNiintch and Tom Childs playing for a Massachusetts ceilidh. “I gave Mike a call and he very generously told me everything I need to know”.
- He plays highland pipes with the Amerscot Highland Pipe Band 35-40 times a year.
- Anecdotes to share: “Unless you tell them, what do you suppose dry cleaners imagine wool bagpipe covers are?” “Gordon Mooney related to me the story of a non-playing collector who mailed a freshly made goatskin bagpipe to his den wall and forgot about his trophy until the evening he was watching the tube and a tremendous and stinking explosion, more effective than a commercial, interrupted his stupor. The pieces of fermented bag draped like tickertape over TV, nose, back furniture were evidence of the gas explosion and a set of very easy reeds which did not sound a warning.”
- Instruments: ‘D’ Scottish smallpipes (MacHarg, 1992); ‘Bb’ Highland pipes (Naill, 1987)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Stumpie; Dunse Dings A ‘; Linkumdoddie; Jenny Nettles; Wee Totum Fogg
- The N.A.A.L.B.P. would like to recognize and heartily thank him for his many drawings and works of art that appear in the Journal. Those that have met him through piping realize that his tremendous sense of humor and wit.
A piper from Pennsylvania
- She is a beginning piper who first played the Scottish Highland pipes in 1967 in “the days before girls really did such things much,” and started playing Uillean pipes in 1973. She became interested in playing pipes from friends who were mutually interested in all kinds of bagpipes. She performs in public mostly giving lectures regarding Celtic music and bagpipes.
- She had the good fortune to meet Thomas Standevern who agreed to take her on as a whistle/flute student. Her training was informal and included Irish language and a wealth of information about Celtic nations.
- For the past 17 years, she has been researching the Breton oral traditions. She does not perform, but loves the dancing and has built up a significant bibliographical knowledge. She is Editor of Bro Nevez (“New Country”), a quarterly newsletter about Breton language and culture.
- Instruments: Uillean pipes (Rowsome, 1920’s?); Kobza Polish bellows blown pipes; Highland Scottish pipes; Galician gaita gallego (mouth blown)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Three Sea Captains; Priest’s Leap; Morrison’s Jig; Song of the Chanter
A piper from Prince Edward Island, Canada
- “I met Alan Jones (and his pipe collection) in PEl in 1991. As soon as I heard him play the Scottish smallpipes, I knew they were for me. My next move was to attend the Convention in North Hero where I met Ray Sloan and ordered a set of pipes.”
- Instruments: ‘A’ Highland pipes ;’D’ Scott smallpipes (Sloan, 1991)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Mary Scot; Souters O’Selkirk; Mingulay Boat Song; Keelman O’er the Land; Mist Covered Mountains
A piper from Pennsylvania
- He is a beginning piper who started playing lowland pipes in 1987. He became interested in the pipes when he saw and heard Ian MacGregor playing the bellows pipes on tour. In addition, he knows several people who play smallpipes which furthered his interest.
- He performs in public in the band, Hawk Mountain Highlanders. Because he is experienced in reading for highland pipes, he feels that Scottish smallpipe music would be easiest to read in the key of A.
- Instruments: Perthshire Bellows Pipes in A (1987); Highland Pipes
- Frequently Played Tunes: High Over Bunachton: Johnny Cope; Various Hamish Moore tunes
A piper from Vermont
- He currently attends UVM, plays highland pipes with the Green Mountain Highlanders, and has been playing smallpipes since 1988. He plays all types of smallpipes (MacHarg manufacture, of course!)
- Instruments: ‘A, Bb’ (MacHarg, 1989); ‘A, Bb’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘C’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘D’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘Eb/D’ Pastoral pipes (MacHarg 1991-1992).
- Tunes Played Frequently: Jenny Nettles; Farewell to Erin; Last Cradle Song; Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be (original composition)
A piper from Vermont
- He is a bagpipe maker by trade who makes and sells a wide variety of bagpipes. You have to see his work (and workshop) to believe the quality and types of bagpipes available. He also makes plastic reeds for his pipes. These reeds have the advantage that they need little, if any tuning.
- An anecdote: “Bagpipes are more difficult than women, and they are impossible!”
- The Wee Piper (his official store name) displays and sells bagpipes at many gatherings. Custom orders are welcome.
- Instruments: ‘A, Bb’ (MacHarg, 1989); ‘A, Bb’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘C’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘D’ smallpipes (MacHarg, 1989); ‘Eb/D’ Pastoral pipes (MacHarg 1991-1992).
- Tunes Played Frequently: Jenny Nettles; Farewell to Erin; Last Cradle Song; Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be (original composition)
A piper from Minnesota
- She has been playing ” … Irish music on flutes and whistles for many years, but I have always been interested in bagpipes, world over. Tried Highland pipes, but realized I wanted a more sociable instrument. Was also interested in playing pipes I could sing with. Heard Hamish Moore at a festival in the Orkneys – ordered a set and headed for workshops.”
- She performs in public regularly with several groups as well as doing “solo ‘odd jobs’.” In addition, she provides music for storyteller/author working in schools, using pipes occasionally, with increasing frequency.
- She has had formal training from Hamish Moore workshops in US and Scotland.
- Instruments: ‘C/A‘ Scottish smallpipes (Moore); ‘G’ English greatpipes (Goodacre); ‘D’ Leicestershire smallpipes (Goodacre)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Peat Moss and The Turf Briquettes; The Jacobeats; Blarney Pilgrim
A piper from Connecticut
- He is currently the N.A.A.L.B.P. Advisor, and is a significant contributor to the Journal. An experienced piper on both bellows blown and highland pipes, he actively increases his repertoire and his pipe collection.
- “My first ‘sighting’ of a Scottish smallpipe was around 1982. I found a picture in Groves of a set and was curious. Soon after, I saw a Grainger and Campbell set, but was unable to buy it at the time. Ian Maclnness of the Tannahill Weavers really got me going by letting me play his set at Hunter Mountain in New York in 1985. I bought Mike MacHarg’s first set in ‘D’ in 1988 and have been playing feverishly ever since.”
- He plays in public often with Tom Childs, Brian and Michele McCandless, Scott Armit, Suzy Petrov and with Manchester Pipe Band.
- A few piping tips from him include: “Hey everyone, if the execution is too hard, don’t worry about it. – keep it simple. It is better to play in tune and with expression; that’s what it’s all about. KNOW THY INSTRUMENT! Concerning tunes – if they fit on the chanter, play ’em – no matter where they are from.”
- Instruments:’D’ Scottish smallpipes (MacHarg, 1988); ‘A’ Half-Long pipes (Addison); ‘F’ Northumbrian Pipes (MacHarg, 1987); ‘A’ smallpipe chanter (MacHarg, 1991 ); ‘G’ Flemish pipe (MacHarg, 1991)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Jenny Nettles; Drops of Brandy; Atholl Highlanders; Go to Berwick Johnny; Keelman O’er the Land
A piper from Maryland
- He began playing bagpipes in 1985 as a natural consequence of his interest and ongoing family exposure to Irish and Scottish music. He first began on the Highland pipes but took up Scottish smallpipes within one year after meeting lain MacInnes of the Tannahill Weavers and after obtaining a used set of Heriot and Allan smallpipes in ‘Bb’ from Hamish Moore.
- He has taken up the study of the history of bellows-blown pipes in Scotland, England and other parts of Europe which has led him to learn to play pipes such as the French Bechonnet and the Polish Dudy, both of which are bellows-blown.
- He also enjoys performing on numerous other folk instruments and has amassed a repertoire on these which he has adapted to the various bagpipes, including Welsh dance music, English Morris dance music, central French music, Breton music, Germanic music (Belgian, Dutch, German), and of course, Scots-Irish music.
- He plays in public frequently and has learned that rehearsing for a gig should really mean fluency with your entire repertoire – rather than deciding ahead of time which specific tunes to play. When entertaining with bagpipes, you need a versatile and adaptable repertoire to accommodate the needs of your audience.
- Philosophically, he views bagpipes collectively as a folk instrument. His approach to playing them, learning tunes on them, and propagating their history is all part of the ongoing bagpipe folk tradition. In fact, he is more at ease playing with three or four other musicians in his kitchen, without rehearsal, and without worrying what the next tune is, and would be very happy to just keep playing!
- Instruments: ‘A’ Border Pipes (Addison 1989); ‘D’ Pastoral Pipes (Addison 1992); sundry Scottish smallpipes; ‘G’ Bechonnet (MacHarg 1992); assorted European mouth blown pipes
- Tunes Played Frequently: Jenny Nettles/Coffee & Tea; The Red Haired Girl of Tulloch/Sleepy Maggie; The Owl/Miss MacKay; Calliope House/Seeking the Galloway; Farewell to Aberdeen/Maggie Lauder
A piper from Maryland
- She got into piping by listening to Brian’s piping 24 hours a day. One day (after months of listening and enjoying) she mentioned to Brian that “it would be fun to play the pipes if only there was a nice small set that someone my size could handle. Christmas came, and so did my pipes!” She plays a MacHarg set that can be fingered many ways – pennywhistle, traditional pipe and closed chanter (northumbrian style).
- She jokes that “pipes were made so pipers could have fun without all that Highland regimentation. And remember, if you can play ‘Tears of A Clown’ on pipes, you can play anything! Toss off the rules and regulations of the Highland pipes and let your imagination run wild!”
- She plays in public quite often with Trikkiwikkit (a duet with Brian McCandless) and also in larger numbers with various instrumentation. In addition to the dudelsac, she also plays bowed psaltery, hurdy gurdy, clarinette, saxophone, pennywhistles, recorder, numerous percussion instruments and various Indonesian instruments.
- An avid reader of the Journal, she typesets much of the information in each Journal, and assists Brian with collation, binding and mailing to the 100+ N.A.A.L.B.P. members. “This Journal is really a two-person operation, and we certainly could use a hand if anyone could spare some time and enthusiasm.”
- “As the writer/typesetter for the entire 5th issue, I would like to sincerely apologize for the lateness of the publication (originally scheduled for August 1992 release).
- Instruments: ‘D’ Dudelsac (MacHarg, 1989)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Quarter Brawles; La Bounette; L’ Enfant de Dieu; Theme to Jeopardy; Tears of a Clown (Smokey Robinson); Two Tickets to Paradise (Eddie Money)
A piper from Texas
- He started playing Highland pipes in 1988 and “got interested in cauld wind pipes just prior to a trip to Scotland/England· in 1990. Ordered Scottish smallpipes from Ray Sloan during a swing through the borders.”
- He performs in public playing smallpipes 6-8 times a year, and Highland pipes 30 40 times a year. His pipe band is Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums.
- Instruments: ‘A, Bb’ Scottish smallpipes (Sloan 1991)
- Tunes Played Frequently: The Bonnie Mill Dams O’Norham; Tweedside; The Last Cradle Song; The Broom 0 ‘ the Cowdenknowes; Jimmy Findlater
A piper from Ontario, Canada
- He is a beginner smallpiper who got into playing smallpipes by listening to recordings of Hamish Moore and Gordon Mooney. He is a member of Celtic Frost Pipe Band.
- Instruments: ‘D’ Smallpipes (Burns, 1989); Highland Pipes (Henderson, 1957)
A piper from Alabama
- He was formerly a Highland piper who “discovered tapes and recordings by Hamish Moore and Gordon Mooney and became hooked on the unique sound.” He came to play Irish pipes after hearing Jerry O’Sullivan and Paddy Keenan.
- He does get out to play in public and received his formal training on the pipes from Hamish Moore and Tim Britton.
- He has expressed a desire for there to be several small pipe gatherings across the US, during all four seasons, not just the summer. Also, he desires gatherings that would offer beginning piping instruction as well as instruction for advanced pipers.
- Instruments: ‘A/D’ Lowland Pipes (Moore, 1991); ‘C’ Lowland Pipes (Moore, 1991); ‘D’ Uilleann Pipes (Lynch, 1992); ‘A’ Lowland Pipes (Addison, 1992)
- Frequently Played Tunes: Drops of Brandy; Willies Brogues; Honey in the Bag; Fair Maid of Barra
A piper from Virginia
[APNA Editor’s Note: Submitted only contact information]
A piper from Texas
- He has been playing lowland pipes since 1992, and plays Uileann pipes most frequently. “Played highland pipes and met a smallpipe and Uillean pipe player and fell in love with those pipes as well. “
- Instruments:’ Bb’ Lowland (Naill); ‘D’ Uillean (Lynch, 1990-1992); ‘A’ Scottish smallpipes (Heriot & Allen)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Return from Fingal; Kesh Jig; Donegal Jig; Hewlett; Galloway Tom
A piper from Georgia
- He is a beginner piper with a long history. “In the ’50’s on summer evenings I played back-up guitar…in a square dance hall in Nelson, New Hampshire, the seat of contradance survival in the U.S. The guitar was plywood with a green cowboy stenciled on it…. Years later I discovered that a lot of the music was pipe music.”
- “When I started playing the U.P., a local highland piper had heard of the ‘new kid on the block with the other kind of instrument’ and paid a call to render assistance. Earnestly I described a host of difficulties. ‘Och! Yier reids too drie’ he said and in a twinkling returned my reed, dripping in saliva. It was a long road to my next C# ! I am sure as he left he blew his nose loudly on his sporan, the pelt of which looked to have been peeled off the southbound lane of 1-95.”
- Instruments: ‘F’ Northumbrian (Ross, 1992)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Drops of Brandy
A piper from New York
- He is an experienced piper who has attended several of Hamish Moore’s smallpipes workshops. He began playing Northumbrian pipes in 1983 and Scottish smallpipes in 1988. He plays in a folk music group from time to time, and plays regularly in the Kearny Caledonian Pipe Band.
- Both He and his wife, feel that smallpipe music should be notated in ‘A’ because it allows the use of an extensive Highland pipe repertoire.
- Instruments: ‘F, C’ Northumbrians (C.Ross 1982); ‘A, Bb’ Scottish smallpipes (Heriot & Allen, 1988); ‘A, C, D’ Scottish Smallpipes (Moore, 1988; modified)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Jig 0′ Slurs; Fair Maid of Barra; Donny MacGregor; Calum Ian (Reel); Wild Hills of Wannies; Maggie Cameron (Strathspey)
A piper from Missouri
- He has played Highland pipes since 1964, and got into playing smallpipes when he “heard a set belonging to a friend and decided I had to own some.”
- He has received formal training in smallpipes from Hamish Moore and plays in public ” …not terribly often, but it will become more frequent as I become more familiar with the reeds and how to adapt them to climatic conditions.”
- Regarding what pitch smallpipe music should be notated, He prefers the key of A. “It’s the one I’m accustomed to, and it is the convention used by Highland pipers although our Highland pipes generally are tuned to Bb. Actually, though, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. It would be nice if everyone converged on one pitch, because pipes are notoriously ‘lexically challenged, musically speaking’ (to use a politically correct euphemism).”
- Instruments: ‘A’ smallpipes (Sloan, 1990); ‘D’ smallpipes (Sloan, 1990); ‘A’ Border Pipes (Moore, 1992); ‘Bb’ Highland Pipes (Grainger & Campbell, 1964)
- Tunes Played Frequently: Galicean Dances; Lady Dolina MacKay (reel); The Road North; Jimmy Allen’s Fancy; Donald Cameron’s Powder Horn
A piper from Missouri
- He is an experienced piper who has been playing lowland pipes since 1988. A quote: “Feb. ’88 – Totally fed up with Highland piping bull [editor’s blank]. Haven’t played Highlands in 2 years. Only play bellows pipes now.” He received formal training from Frank Edgely of Windsor, Ontario.
- He plays in public occasionally and is currently looking for other musicians interested in alternative Celtic music.
- Instruments played: ‘Bb’ Lowland smallpipes (Heriot & Allen, 1989); ‘A’ Chanter (Heriot & Allen, 1989)
N.AA.L.B. MEMBERS LIST
Bernard Adams. 2
Dr. Pat Talylor
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
African Import Co.
Bradley M. Angus
Eoghan C. Ballard
Jefferson H. Ballard
David S. Bardenstein
Jay T. Close
Linda Currie (see Francis Wallace)
N.A.A.L.B.P. MEMBERS LIST (continued)
Laurie Franklin (see Sandy Ross)
Henry W. Gable
Henry C. Hicks
K. Van Jackman
David V. Kennedy
Michael G. Kerr
Lark in the Morning
Michael Wescott Loder
Laura Anne MacKenzie
Brian and Michele McCandless
Charles E. Morley
N.A.A.L.B.P. MEMBERS LIST (continued)
Gordon Peters Glenn Pryor
Frederick M. Shortz
James W. Tyler
Patrick J. Whelan
Joseph M. Wright
UNITED KINGDOM and EUROPE
Irish Trad. Music Archive
Lowland and Border Pipers Society
Jean Luc Matte
Na Piobatri UiIlean
TUNES SENT IN BY JOHN DALLY
April 2-4: Northumbrian Smallpipes Society of North America gathering at The Inn at Crystal Lake, New Hampshire. For more information call Walter Spink.
April 3: First N.A.A.L.B.P. Pipers’ Day at the American Legion Hall on Main Street in Elkton, Maryland from Noon until 10:00 P.M. Contact Brian McCandless.
June 13-26: Balmoral Scbool of Highland Piping with Gordon Mooney at Center College, Danville. Kentucky. For more information contact George Balderose
June 26-30: Hamish Moore Summer School of Cauld Wind Pipes and Maggie Moore School of Pre-Victorian Scottish Dance. Oak Hill Ranch, Santa Rosa, California. For more information contact John Creager
June 27-July 7: Balmoral School of Highland Piping with Gordon Mooney at University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington. For more information contact George Balderose
July 11-24: Balmoral School of Highland Piping with Gordon Mooney at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. For more information contact George Balderose
August 28-30: 9th North American Northumbrian Piper’s Convention, North. Hero, Vermont. For men information contact Alan Jones
WANTED: Uillean pipes practice set in “D”, in good working order, with bellows. Also, full or 3/4 set in good working order. Empty the closet and pass on that old set you never play!
WANTED: People to correspond with about bagpipes and to trade things like cards, photographs, adornments and stamps.
WANTED: Any information concerning Pastoal pipes, especially PLANS and measurements. also documented cases of Pastoral, Border, and Scottish small pipes being played – techniques, repertoire. makers, etc. Contact the Editor.
WANTED: Correspondence with people having interior measurements of narrow (less than 2 deg) conically bored. overblowing instruments and their holes.
FOR SALE: Shaw 7-key Northwnbrian pipe chanter. Standard pitch. blackwood, 4 years old. needs reed. Reason for sale: upgraded to 14-key chanter. $300 firm. Contact the Editor.
NOTICE TO ADVERTISERS: The Journal welcomes advertisments regarding the sale or trade of bagpipes and other services thereof. Short linear ads are free to members: non-members may take an ad for $5.00. Those wishing to place quarter, half. or full page ads may do so at the rate of $15.00 per quarter page. Please send your camera-ready copy and fee to the Editor.
BELLOWS VALVE SLEEVE GUARD
With its attractive heart motif, this handsome hand-cast and hand~finished guard will make any bellows look better while keeping shirt sleeves out of the bellows valve hole.
30 day money back guarantee. Send $1.00 and SASE for two color photographs. ($1.00 refunded with purchase.)
CAST SOLID SILICON BRONZE $32.00
Also available by special order in Solid Cast Sterling Silver and 14K Solid Gold kit includes Sleeve Guard, two mounting screws and instructions. Please add $5.00 per order Shipping and Handling. Michael A. Dow
An Invitation to participate in the
NORTH AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LOWLAND
AND BORDER PIPERS
The North American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers (NAALBP) was organized in late 1989 to foster interest in Scottish Lowland and Border pipes. For the most part, these are the bellows blown or “cauld wind pipes”. The association exists to network together players and enthusiasts who live in North America. The association publishes a bi-annual Journal and an annual membership list to facilitate the exchange of music, information, and experiences. Among the long-term goals of the organization are hosting an annual meeting, producing a cassette of North American players, and publishing a tunebook.
You are invited to participate in the NAALBP by returning the membership form and yearly dues. Membership in the NAALBP is open to all persons who are interested in the bagpipes of Lowland Scotland and of the border region encompassing northern England and Northumbria. The NAALBP welcomes your participation and invites you to submit articles, music, photographs, or other information you have written or collected.
Please send inquiries and Membership Form with check for $15.00 payable to Brian E. McCandless NAALBP.
Chairman: Alan Jones Coordinator: Brian McCandless Advisor: Mike MacNintch
The JOURNAL of the Nonh American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers (N.A.AL.B.P.) is published by the N.A.A.L.B.P. to provide information and music pertaining to the bellows blown pipes of Scotland and Northern England to its members. The JOURNAL is edited by Brian McCandless and was typeset by Michele and Brian McCandless. The N.A.AL.B.P. is indebted to Ellen Schubert of Wilmington, Delaware for layout and calligraphy of the logo. Additional copies of the JOURNAL may be purchased from the Editor for $8.00 U.S..
The JOURNAL of the N.AAL.B.P. welcomes any and all contributions pertaining to the bellows blown pipes of Scotland. Send in your tunes, notes, articles, photographs, comments suggestions, criticisms and letters to: NAALBP, c/o Brian E. McCandless.
Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of names, places and events. The Editor regrets any errors. and appreciates notification of correction. which will be duly noted in the following issue. Any photo duplication or other copying of this document is strictly forbidden. The Editor and Authors kindly request that permission be obtained for duplication of selected portions for educational purposes only.
The N.A.A.L.B.P. recognizes other existing organizations related to Bagpipes and welcomes their reciprocal interaction.
c 1993 N.A.A.L.B.P.