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From Dave Rowlands Worthing, Sussex

While reading the interesting article in Common Stock, Dec 2004, entitled Play- ing tunes written in “other” keys, I noticed a small omission. The fine tune Waltz for Polle was written by Wim Pozen, a well respected player on the continent. I’m sure this was just an oversight, and ask that you print this to set the record straight. Neil Corbett’s article gives good advice, which if used, opens up new oppor- tunities for tune researching and collecting.

In an earlier edition, there was an article about the piper of Kilbarcham, Habbie Simpson. There was mention of a painting, and a trip to photograph it. Is there any news on this?

‘Fraid not. The idea of some sort of event taking place in Habbie Simpson's home town of Kilbarchan has so far not proved viable. No doubt the LBPS committee will re­visit this idea from time to time. Ed


G Pipes Jock Agnew

In March the West Country (OK. Somerset and Devon) double­booked a piping weekend.....

.............. I’ll explain.

Every year Halsway Manor (near Minehead in Somerset) hosts a weekend of piping for Northumbrian smallpipes. Part of the attraction is the location which complements the high standard of tuition. This year, during the same weekend, a piping event was held in Oke- hampton, Devon. Not for smallpipes, but for Border pipes - in G. In G? Well, why not. But it does raise, once again, the debate over just what is a Border Pipe?

Quick as a flash comes the answer - a bagpipe with a conical chanter and drones held in the bag by a single stock.

Fair enough - but in what key should it be pitched? Should the seventh note up the scale be flat or sharp - or at the whim of the player? What arrangement of drones - bass and 2 tenor; bass tenor alto/baritone; bass tenor treble?

No doubt those with the experience and knowledge can answer and debate all these thorny questions, but let me return to the matter in hand - the weekend in Okehampton. There we played pipes pitched in G, with the ability to over-blow well into the second octave, and used fingering that provided a choice of F sharp or F natural (the 7th). Some were mouth- blown, others used bellows. And like Uillean pipes the drones were pitched in octaves - G, g, g’.

And we needed pipes like these, for a large part of the Saturday was spent learning from Michel Esbelin, some of the music and the techniques used on the Cabrette (same fingering as the G Border pipes) and native to the Auvergne district of Central France. [See Common Stock Vol 19 No 2, Dec 2004 p35].


A pointless exercise for those concerned with Scottish and Border music? I don’t think so. There are good reasons to suppose that music repertoire and technique were frequently exchanged between divergent geographical areas over the centuries, and it is always good to learn new tunes and fresh ways of delivering them.

We worked for the most part on a Bourree (in this case both a dance and a song) called Depuis Paris Jusqu’a Valence, with a 3/8 time signature and a slightly syncopated rhythm. We were introduced to the rappel [see Common Stock No 17.2 Dec 2002 p28 ­ 34] which is used below the melody note, and a fast grouping of grace notes above. I didn’t catch the ge- neric name of this last movement, partly because I was busy concentrating on its execution, and partly because the entire workshop session was carried out in French!

After lunch David Faulkner took us through a couple of tunes well suited to Border pipes - The Rugged Saylor (c. 1694) and St Helana March ­ a traditional English tune. Again the emphasis was on rhythm and ornamentation. And as with the morning session we learned without the benefit of dots.

The evening concert, well worth waiting for, featured Bulgarian pipes (Mike York), Cab- rette (Michel Esbelin) and Border pipes with accordion (David Faulkner and Steve Turner - (see ‘Reviews’ p35 Common Stock Vol 19 No 1).

The whole day was organised by David Faulkner under the auspices of Wren Music, Devon’s folk art development organisation, and subsidised in part by the Bagpipe Society (as was the Northumbrian Smallpipes weekend at Halsway Manor in Somerset).

So, my own impressions? It was both instructive and enjoyable. I have to thank Jon Swayne for lending me a set of bellows blown Border pipes in G, although I never managed to get the slightly different (to Highland fingering) top hand up to speed. It was a good venue despite some heating problems - we learned that the hall heating was controlled from distant Plymouth! - with plenty of ancillary facilities in the town and the college.

I’m sorry that those attending (at one time some 14 pipers) were not given more encourage- ment to mix and exchange views. For instance a common venue for the midday meal, and a list of attendees (maybe even name badges) might have helped.