page 7

page 10

page 11

page 12


Hugh Cheape's article in Common Stock Vol 4, No. 1 (Jan, 1989) Prompted JULIAN GOODACRE to measure up the ‘Montgomery set' of small pipes, and to give this talk about them to the Society in Edinburgh in June 1991.

Julian Goodacre opened by saying that when he volunteered initially to give the talk, he hadn't been sure what it was going to be about: since then he had decided to talk about Scottish small pipes, and a logical way to do this was to talk about his own experience as a player and pipemaker and how he got involved with then. For this talk he had measured and made up a set based on the Montgomery set in the Edinburgh Castle Museum, which dated from 1757. "My approach to Scottish small pipes," he explained, "is from the background of the English Piping revival." He had bought his first set of pipes ten years ago - a rather dubious reproduction English pipe, with a conical chanter. His brother, John, who had been researching piping in their native Leicestershire, was interested in small pipes and reckoned there must be more to English small pipes than the Northumbrian ones. He had given Julian a brief of what he wanted - a chanter in D, with sharpened leading notes at top and bottom (unlike Scottish pipes), and large bells on a single drone and chanter. This was the basis of the "Leicestershire small pipe". They play them with what he called "covered" fingering (not closed like Northumbrian), dropping back to the bottom note between higher notes, giving a staccato effect. This is what most small pipe traditions do, not only the musette.

Unlike the Scottish small pipes, he put a slight taper into the bore to boost the bottom notes. In 1984 he set up making these pipes full-time in Edinburgh. Around that time he first heard Gordon Mooney's playing on tape. In June 1985 he came to a LBPS meeting and saw Scottish small pipes for the first time, most of them made by Colin Ross and Robbie Greensitt. Musically speaking, the only difference between his chanter and the Scottish instrument was in the leading notes. So he made an experimental Scottish small pipe chanter, initially just to have something to play at LBPS meetings. At first he was told that they didn't sound quite Scottish. That Easter of '86 he made up a set for the LBPS competition and he and his brother won the Dunfermline Tassies playing Scottish and Leicestershire small pipes.

After this, he started making the Scottish small pipes seriously, but keeping the slightly tapered bore on the chanter. He talked about the various ways of gracing. All small pipes tended to have weak notes and bottom and strong at the top, so if you got a Scottish Highland piper playing small pipes you could get Highland pipe grace notes sounding very loud at the top.

"It's important to modify some of these gracings and makers are boosting some of the bottom notes on modern chanters. Some pipe makers have a parallel bore almost down to bottom and a bore which widens after that to amplify it. I don't do that but have a parallel bore for a quarter of the bore, then it is slightly conical." His brother John was developing a covered fingering but incorporating some of the Highland gracings, which sounded much more Scottish than Julian's Playing. John had been on some of Hamish Moore's courses, and Hamish had initially suggested a bass/tenor/baritone arrangement for the drones. After D he started making the pipes in C, B flat, A and G, although nowadays in Edinburgh at least, A seemed to be the key that folk were going for.                               

Julian recalled looking at the Duncan Fraser Collection at the Royal Scottish Museum in Chambers Street with Hugh Cheape, when he saw a beautiful early ivory set of small pipes. He measured them up, then read Hugh Cheape's article in Common Stock, about the set of Scottish small pipes in the museum in Edinburgh Castle. Cheape's article went into the implications of these pipes (dated 1775). They were inscribed: "Honl. Coll. Montgomery lst Highland Battn. Jany. 4 1757", Hugh Cheape regarded the instrument as a comparatively rare survivor of the 18th century, and had also found out a lot about Col. Montgomery - an important aspect was the military and Highland background to the pipes.

Hugh Cheape had pointed out that “today we tend to equate small pipes with a very different social context from the military and it may be difficult to envisage that this set of smallpipes had any direct connection with Montgomery's Highlanders and their vigorous war overseas (against the Cherokee Indians in North America during the Seven Years' War against the French). However it is a remarkable statistic that Stewart of Garth records that when Montgomery's Highlanders were enrolled there were 30 pipers and drummers on the strength, and this at a time when the Proscriptive legislation against things Highland was still in force." Cheape concludes that it is reason- able to assume that this set of small pipes belonged to one of these (Highland) Pipers in the battalion, rather than to Montgomery himself.

"So here at last we had a set of pipes, with a date, so I set out to measure them up. Colin Ross had often said that he thought that on Scottish small pipes like these, the two leading notes were sharpened like the English notes. That interested me; if they were diatonic it meant that if you handed them to a Highland piper he wouldn't be able to play them, or at least he wouldn't be able to play tunes that needed the top and bottom leading notes. Robbie Greensitt had talked about something in between - a ‘neutral' leading note, which today our ear might find harder to accept. So I was very interested in measuring up the Montgomery pipes and making a set from it."

Today we tend to call these small pipes "Lowland small pipes" (Julian does in his catalogue), but here was a set of small pipes definitely associated with the Highlands. The Montgomery Pipes are mouthblown but may have been bellowsblown originally: the ivory set in the Chambers Street museum was bellows- blown. People in the Society tend to       assume that some surviving small pipes have been converted to mouth-blown later; this may or not be the case, thought Julian. He made his set bellows blown, and out of plum with boxwood mountings (the original was made of imported hardwood and ivory). He'd made a plastic reed for the chanter. Inside the end of each drone he found little cavities such as they have in Highland pipes and he was going to start fitting cavities on his production pipes to see if they helped stabilise the sound. He reckoned that whoever converted the pipes was a small pipes maker, because the bag was very different from a Highland pipe bag; the leather was thinner and the seam very complicated and neatly sewn.

But it was the chanter that was "amazing", he said; it had an incredibly tight bore. "Your average Scottish smallpipe tends to have a bore of 5/32 - the minimum size of a chanter. A Highland bagpipe maker is never called upon to drill a hole smaller than this; whereas this pipe, its chanter and drones are 1/8, which is a lot harder for the pipemaker to drill - even today. Whoever made these pipes was used to making small pipes." (He also showed reproduction chanters he had made from another set of small pipes he'd measured up in the Queen Street Museum, and from the ivory set at Chambers Street.) He played Jimmy Alien on the reproduction Montgomery set, commenting that the tune and the pipes were just about contemporary, although it wasn't a tune that was played by Scottish smallpipers because it went a note over the octave and required a sharp leading note.

He had been surprised to find that his reproduction set had the Scottish-type full note at the bottom but a sharper note at the top. Perhaps someone could come up with a reed which would flatten the top note and bring the set more into line with what we're playing today. He hadn't had time yet to develop a reed which made a more exciting sound in them; the present set played quite nicely in E.. a bit different! He reckoned, however, a longer staple on the reed might bring that down.

These days the small pipes we're playing are very different, with a boosted bottom note. The bottom note on the Montgomery pipes was comparatively weak; it was made that way; the other copies of early chanters he'd made were very similar, and because of that, and the small size of the chanter, he assumed that the fingering for these pipes would have been the sort of covered fingering he used, and would not have involved Highland gracings. Talking about temperament and the intervals       between the notes, he said that when you copied an old set of pipes and found it sounding strange, was this the fault of our reeding up, or was it the fault of our ears, used as they were to modern temperament? This was what people reproducing early instruments were up against all the time. "I think that modern small pipes are influenced by the fact that most of the People who come to them have been playing Highland pipes; they want that louder bottom key note."

Thinking about the aspirations of the       Society, and their interest in bellows pipes in Lowlands and Borders.... “Scottish small pipes have taken off now and people are playing them with all sorts of other instruments - traditional, synthesizers, drums etc - and I think that's great. But the Society is also interested in historical aspects and we should look back to see what was going on - may be there are truths lying in museums that we need to know about”.

Finally, he found it interesting that he had three chanters he had copied, all of which had a lot of similarities. “Pipes don't just appear our of thin air; they were made because there was a demand for them. These Scottish small pipes in the museums mustn't be seen in a vauum; they were made for people who actually wanted them. There are three here; there are more dotted around Edinburgh, very similsr in chanter and in drone tuning - made for pople who wanted to play them and had some kind of style of playing and some kind of reertoire and perhaps some kind of social position, I don't know. So all that has to be thought about, based on the example in the museums.

N.B. Deatailed plans of the Montgomery small pipe are included elsewhere in this copy of Common Stock.