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Jim Buchanan



In April at the Piping Centre in Glasgow Nigel Richard (Garvie Bagpipes) hosted the launch of his new brainchild, Garvie Session Pipes (Patent Pending). These are mouth blown pipes pitched in A (440) designed for the Highland piper who wants to play in sessions, ceilidhs or folk groups with other instruments without having to master bellows technique. For the launch he recruited, as a quartet, Fraser Fifield, Stuart Liddell, Simon McKerrell and Finlay Macdonald to play these new pipes before a large and attentive audience. They produced a dazzling harmonic display of virtuoso piping demonstrating that the volume and tone of these new pipes is ideal for playing indoors without exceeding the comfort zone of the listeners, which would not have been the case with one GHB let alone a quartet in that room.

Nigel has been developing and testing these pipes combining the best of Border pipe and GHB technology at the same time as incorporating some innovations of his own. These include a reed protection and moisture control system designed specifically for low-pressure cane reeds so that they can be expected to have a reasonable operating life. His tests to date have shown that his reeds have already lasted nine months without problems. He cautions that maintenance schedule he has worked out must be adhered to; it involves removing the humidity control tube and canister after playing (for at least an hour) to let them dry out.

The cane chanter reeds have the characteristic rich tone of the Highland pipe chanter. The drones are available in two styles, either fully combed and beaded with projection mounts in the Highland style or they can be mounted or part mounted in a simpler Lowland style.

They are beautiful examples of the work of Garvie Bagpipes and are currently available in Blackwood with art. ivory mounts and nickel plated ferrules or in Mopane with boxwood mounts and gold plated ferrules.

The volume of the instrument is ideal for playing with fiddles, flutes, accordions and other musical instruments. The pitch is A but a B flat option is coming soon.

Having seen GHB pipers struggling, failing and often giving up on the bellows and then witnessing their restored confidence with a comforting blow stick in their gobs, I know that Nigel has identified a niche and has filled it with his characteristic painstaking attention to detail and artistry. I predict an upsurge in the number of groups and sessions with pipers at- tached all playing Nigel’s Session Pipes

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