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Bagpipes

The oldest known set of Northumbrian small-pipes (Late 17th century)<p>
The oldest known set of Northumbrian small-pipes (Late 17th century)


Northumberland has a strong tradition of pipe-playing dating back centuries. As piping in the region has developed so have the instruments themselves. Over the centuries local pipe makers have developed two styles of pipes unique to the region:

"The Northumbrian smallpipes consist of a bag which is inflated by bellows under one arm (rather than by blowing into it, like the Scottish bagpipes). The bellows are used to provide dry air which the small sensitive reeds require. The music is light, lilting and melodic."

In this short musical clip we hear Northumbrian Piper Joe Hutton playing three melodies composed by Archie Dagg. Begining with the Slow Air ’Swindon’, this is followed with ’Joe Hutton’s March’ and finally we hear the ’Foxglove Hornpipe’. The tunes were recorded at the Bay Hotel Cullercoats on 8th April 1979. Other selections taken from this concert can be found in the FARNE archive.

This short audio clip is available in Mp3 or Real Audio format.

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The Northumbrian half-long pipes or Border pipes, as they are commonly known, produce a stronger, more robust sound than the smallpipes. A recent discovery has been the find of written music for the half-long pipes, published in 1733, some 60 years before the oldest known Scottish bagpipe music.

In this musical example we hear Paul Roberts playing Border pipes, accompanied by Dave Wright on fiddle, playing the tune ’Rusty Gulley’. The melody is taken from a fiddle manuscript written by William Vickers in the late 18thC. Digitised images of all the tunes in the manuscript can be found in the FARNE archive.

This short audio clip is available in Mp3 or Real Audio format.

play real audio

If you select the RealAudio option the clip will play in your RealOne Player (If you do not have RealOne Player, follow the link below to download).

play mp3

If you select the Mp3 option playback will be through Windows Media Player or any other Mp3 player that you have set as default.

Download RealOne Player
To download free RealPlayer click here.

 

To find out more about how FARNE audio files have been created follow this link - Audio Technical Notes.

The picture above shows a rare sets of pipes, made around 1811, and belonging to a famous Northumbrian piper called John Peacock. John Peacock was not only famous as a musician but was credited with the idea of adding keys to the pipes to allow pipers to increase the range of their music. Before this addition in the early 19th century, pipers were restricted to playing music written traditionally for the pipes. After the number of pipe keys were increased, pipers were able to share the repetoire of other musicians such as fiddlers.

This set of pipes is also very rare. The drones were made by Stuart of Newcastle and the chanter was probably made by Robert Reid of North Shields. The pipes were made in the early 19th Century and only three sets are known. The region’s largest collection of pipes (including those shown above) is now held at Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum so go along and take a look.







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