In our current cultural climate immodesty is usually frowned upon; one should not 'blow ones own trumpet' in public. Actually this phrase adapts rather neatly for the mouth- blown bagpipe world; to 'blow ones own chanter'. But attempt to adapt it for a bellows-blown bagpipe and one creates the rather slightly risqué concept of  'pumping ones own chanter'. Is this neologism polite?  Anyway, at the risk of blowing against the current cultural climate, I have decided to cast my modesty to the cauld wind and write a few crisp words clearly intended to 'pump my own chanters' and to bask in the glory of the triumph of Callum Armstrong and myself in winning the Mains Castle Medals in the duet class at this years LBPS competition in Glasgow on the 16th April.
I have entered in many different classes of the LBPS competitions over the past 30 years. In the duet class of 1991 & 1998 Brother John and I were placed 2nd and in 1999 we came 1st. Those who have taken part recently will know that the rules for the duet class clearly state that it is for two pipers, two sets of pipes, one of which must be Border or Scottish small pipes. In the early years I was involved in organising the competition and we often had to adjust the wording for the rules of a class for the following year in the light of any misunderstanding or misinterpretations of the rules. The reason that the current rules are so specific, is, I admit, because in 1992 I spotted that at that time it was not stated that the duet had to be played by two pipers and so I cheekily entered the class as a solo piper, but played a duet on a Scottish smallpipe double chanter. I played The Mill, The Mill O!  and The Keel Row. I played well, I played lots of two note chords on my double chanter, I was not disqualified and I won 1st Prize!
This year I played strictly by the current rules and entered the duet class with a second piper; Callum. We played well, we played lots of chords and we won 1st prize. But the difference this time was that some of the chords we played on our chanters were five note chords.  
I was playing my set of Cornish double pipes in C, which has no drone and two chanters, so  it can play a variety of two note chords.  Callum was playing his usual Scottish smallpipe, but this time he was playing it with a triple chanter in C. The chanter was brand new and the first one I have ever made and I had only completed it on Wednesday 13th. It is a challenge to drill three parallel bores in one piece of wood and I was certainly not relaxed when drilling the finger holes. Any pipe maker will confirm that there is no shortage of possibilities for making mistakes when drilling the 9 finger holes on a single chanter. And the potential possibilities are doubled when drilling the 18 holes needed on a double chanter. So it was trebly stressful drilling the 27 finger on this chanter!
Having drilled them I handed it to Callum and within an hour he had made great progress reeding it up and doing fine-tuning. Our design for plastic reeds is remarkably stable and it was not long before he was exploring the possibilities of three note chords. In fact, to use a hopelessly inappropriate metaphor, he took to it like a duck to a triple chanter!
That evening we began experimenting playing it with various pipe combinations and found that it sounded grand when played with my C Cornish double pipe, which plays an octave lower. Over the next two days he finalised the tuning and we decided that it would not contravene the rules if we played a quintet at the competition. Which is what we did... and we were awarded 1st prize.
You can listen to what it sounded like on the LBPS website. If you cannot understand how Callum manages to play these chords it is quite easy to explain what he is doing, but incomprehensible to understand how he actually manages to do it. Like the rest of us mortal pipers he is playing a tune by lifting up and putting down his fingers on the chanter, as required. Fingers up, fingers down....fingers up, fingers down! This is essentially what we have to do to play a tune.  And all pipers know that the tricky bit is always to move the correct finger at the correct time! However on a double chanter, and even more so when playing on a triple chanter, one has the possibility to slide each finger from side to side to create the required chord. It is so simple.... but not so easy.
And before you or Callum ask me, I am currently not prepared even to consider making a quadruple chanter. (Well perhaps, maybe....)

Julian Goodacre May 17th 2015

Triple smallpipe chanter in C. Made of damson wood with lilac mounts.