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Call For Yer Pipers Three

The English Midlands is perhaps not an area that springs immediately to mind in connection with piping. Yet it was once hyperventilating as much as the rest of these Islands and most other parts of Europe. Now, as is happening in much of Europe, interest in indigenous piping is reviving, and as an interesting example we have the Goodacre Brothers’ first cassette; Call For Yer Pipers Three (from White House, tapes, Ashby Parva, Leicestershire; or from Julian Goodacre, 4 Elcho St, Peebles).   The trio uses mainly recreated English great pipes (as shown in depictions of Chaucer’s miller), the sweeter-toned Leicestershire small pipes and associated chanters, augmented Border horn (hornpipe/ and Cornish double pipes. All of them are made by Julian Goodacre in Peebles while his brother John remains in their Leicestershire home village of Ashby Parva, his researches backing up Julian’s production of “Leicestershire small pipes”.

The repertoire here ranges through traditional English dance music, French and contemporary material (including several tunes by John and one, Roundabout, composed by the Goodacres’ maternal Grandmother from a village pageant written by their paternal grandfather in the twenties). Some of the three part playing is of particular interest, particularly a piece by Telemann, no less, with its gently unfolding harmonies, or in the richly     revolving French waltz, Cru d'Amour; also the harmonies played by Julian on the   double chanter of his Cornish pipe in Bodmin Riding.

The ancient carol The Joys of Mary has a fine, infectious tune, to which a double chanter, once again, does rousing justice, although I’m sorry that Julian didn't sing it as well, which I have heard him do, accompanying himself on his pipes, with gusto.

There are some rough edges, and some uncertain sounding fingering, to this cassette. Also, the music is all taken at a pretty sedate pace; one gets the impression that to suggest they "gie it a laldy’ would prompt a polite but sharp intake of breath. But they have some way to go yet, along the miller’s road, and into this fascinating realm of lost piping. The notes feature some endearing loopy asides, such as ‘learnt at a dance on a railway station in Bath’, or, for a tune called The Chest of Drawers; “inherited by Julian from our father’s cousin. It might be for sale.”

(Reproduced courtesy of Cencrastus Magazine)



Written and narrated by Walter Eliot, with original music by Elspeth Smellie, Barbara Mooney and Gordon Mooney. TR 0001

This is an imaginative account, in modern verse, music and song of an historical journey down the famous Yarrow Valley narrated by Walter Eliot and Elspeth Smellie. There has been a great deal of musical attention given to this troubled land over the years, and the beauty of the verse and music in this recording echo its virtues in a most innovative - if sometimes a little fanciful - way. Walter’s irregular stanzas paint a vivid portrait of the peoples and events connected with this much-sung part of the Scottish/English border country. Indeed, the whole tape, I feel, would make a wonderful soundtrack accompaniment to a film of such a journey should one ever be made (hint, hint).

The musical interludes combine the talents of Elspeth Smellie on Clarsach, (with a lot of beautiful singing from her as well);   Barbara Mooney on Flute or Bassoon (and as a singer of some note herself); and Gordon Mooney on a variety of sympathetic bagpipes,

(Northumbrian small pipes, Scottish small pipes, and small pipes in 'E’ - similar to the Montgomery set?). Each of the combinations adds a haunting quality to the     evocative verses which signify a stopping place along the way.

If I have one complaint (and I really only have one) it is that Walter's very thick   accent makes it difficult for an exiled Scot like myself to decipher the verses,         especially as the dialect in which they are written is unfamiliar in parts. I don’t have as much difficulty with Elspeth’s renditions of his words, but perhaps that is because she speaks more slowly and I have time to grasp the full meaning.   However, for those similarly afflicted, there is a book "Song For Yarrow" which inspired the tape, and contains the full verse, so language difficulties can be overcome without too much trouble. This criticism notwithstanding, I think it’s a lovely tape and well worth taking the time to listen carefully to the story.