View Full Version : What inspired you to play non-GHB bagpipes
04-04-2002, 10:29 AM
Sorry if this topic has been covered in the past and is archived. I am relatively new to the world of piping and should be purchasing my first set of GHB pipes in the coming months. I have been lurking in the non-GHB forum for a while and am very interested in the bellows blown Scottish Smallpipes. However, being that my major goal in the piping world is piobaireachd, buying a set of SSP will be a ways off.
End of digression
What inspired you to play a non-GHB pipe? Did you play a non-GHB pipe first. What may be a more appropriate question is: Do you play the GHB at all? Was there a musical challenge/difference that drew you to one of these instruments or was it a natural progression from the GHB.
I know that the set of questions above are a bit loaded. I started to think about these after I saw Ian Lawthers poll in the "beer tent" forum. It seemed to be looking for percentages of GHB pipers who also play non-GHB instuments. A possible start to finding ways of promoting non-GHB instruments to the GHB piping world?
04-04-2002, 12:47 PM
Perhaps I should start my answer with
"My name is Ian Lawther and I'm a pipe-aholic"
I began on highland pipes and was exposed to the sounds of Northumbrian smallpipes and uilleann pipes through my father's interest in traditional folk music - heard NSP through High Level Ranter, Jack Armstrong and Billy Pigg recordings, uilleann pipes through Seamus Ennis, Planxty and the Chieftains. Just loved the sounds and wanted to play them.
I later heard border pipes at a Northumbrian Pipers Society meeting in 1981, and Scottish smallpipes in the late 1980s. As above loved the sounds and wanted to play them.
There are other pipes I like the sounds of but I think I have probably got enough to deal with now....
But taking one aspect of your question I don't think of it as progression, more of a branching out through a number of related (sometimes vaguely) instruments. As a teenager earnings from GHB facilitated buying my first NSP, and in later years income from piping has allowed me to justify purchases that would otherwise dent the family finances, but this again is happy circumstance rather than progression.
04-04-2002, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by Ian Lawther:
But taking one aspect of your question I don't think of it as progression, more of a branching out through a number of related (sometimes vaguely) instruments.Looking back, it is not clear what I meant by a "natural progression". What I should have written was: "Did playing the GHB expose you to non-GHB insturments, pique your interest and lead you to begin playing them?"
You seem to have already answered this...
04-04-2002, 01:34 PM
In my experience there is little link between exposure to highland pipes and exposure to other pipes. Certainly those who follow folk/celtic bands that include a GHB player will now often see Scottish smallpipes as well (look at bands like Battlefield Band, Ceol Beg, Deaf Shepherd etc). At one time Battlefield also had an NSP player.
Something like Riverdance has done more to raise awarenes of uilleann pipes than anything connected with GHB. Having said that the Irish folk resurgence started way before Riverdance and bands like Planxty and Bothy Band in the 1970s really raised the profile of uilleann pipes, and inspired young players..
I have come across people who really wanted to play some other sort of pipe, but could not find an instrument, guidance, tutor etc, and therefore opted for GHB as an accessible second best.
04-04-2002, 09:01 PM
I think exposure to the other instruments is the key.
I started on the GHP after being exposed to my area High School Band which happened to have a Bagpipe section. I joined the band so that I could play in that section. In the early '80's I was taken by the Uilleann Pipes that I saw and heard at a local Irish Fair. However, they seemed a bit intimidating with the two arm technique required, extra keys, etc., so I never pursued them.
Fast forward to 2000. I went to a local Pipeband/Bad Haggis concert, and there was a set where some the PB members played Walsh Shuttle Pipes. I thought, "Now That's Cool!". After hitting the internet and finding all the smallpipe makers, I came to discover the Northumbrian Smallpipes, solely by listening to recordings of sound samples of the makers' sites and a few CD's I purchased online. I was truly taken by the sweet tone and range of the Northumbrian chanter. Fast Forward to 2001 and I come to find out that my PM has a set of A/D bellows-blown Scottish Smallpipes. I asked to borrow them to try out, as I figured if I'm going to go the smallpipe route I should start with an instrument with the familiar GHP fingering (although I still prefer the sound of the Irish pipes and Northumbrian Pipes over the Scottish Smallpipes.
I have since returned the bellows blown set, not having quite become very comfortable with the bellows. I still have yet to decide what to purchase, as eventually, I would like to progress to the Northumbrian Pipes.
I guess my desire to go in this direction stems from the desire to find an instrument that I can play at home inside, without to much disruption to the family. That, and wanting something a bit more than just a practice set of pipes.
So, what to do? Do I progress thusly?
GHP / Mouthblown Scottish smallpipes or Shuttle Pipes / Bellows Blown Scottish Smallpipes / Northumbrian Smallpipes?
or GHP / Northumbrian Smallpipes?
04-05-2002, 05:24 AM
Originally posted by Daniel MacDougall:
What inspired you to play a non-GHB pipe? ...
Did you play a non-GHB pipe first. What may be a more appropriate question is: Do you play the GHB at all.My inspiration arose directly out of two live performances:
Richard Butler, 1984, at North Hero, Vermont. The sweet tone of the NSP blew me away. I purchased a Burleigh set of NSP in 1985.
Sold my NSP about 5 years ago to concentrate on GHB, but plan on ordering a new set sometime soon.
Hamish Moore w/Katie Nelligan, 1986, at Elkins, West Virginia. After 5 minutes of hearing the sweet tone of Hamish's Colin Ross SSP, combined with Hamish's astounding technique, I was hooked. Purchased a set of Heriot & Alan SSP in D
in 1987. Then a Heriot & Alan Bb set in 1988,
followed by Hamish Moore set in C & A in 1989.
As far as "progression" is concerned, I "progressed" the wrong way 'round. I didn't start GHB until 1996, and didn't start serious lessons on GHB until 2000. The GHB road has been tough, but instructors Iain MacHarg and Donald Lindsey have helped tremendously [how does anyone ever learn GHB without great instruction?].
04-09-2002, 01:41 AM
Originally posted by Daniel MacDougall:
What may be a more appropriate question is: Do you play the GHB at all? Was there a musical challenge/difference that drew you to one of these instruments or was it a natural progression from the GHB.I do no play GHB and don't plan to in the near future. I think there is far too much emphasis on GHB in general and reckon that every serious piper should at least have been exposed to various other types of pipes.
I currently own a Spanish gaita, a Romanian cimpoi, a Swedish sackpipa and a one-drone set of SSP made out of a snooker cue. (and also Deger's excellent electronic chanter). And I will do my best to use all of these to let people know that there is more than pipe bands.
What drew me to these instruments (or all pipes) was the very different sounds, while having a common ground. That and there might be something wrong with my ears.
I would say that playing GHB is not that different from playing any other classical instrument, in terms of having a readily available band/ensemble/orchestra structure, and while you are essentially playing traditional music, one does not necessarily need to be interested in folk music. If you're playing uillean pipes, you are much more entering the sphere of folk music, playing with a traditional band etc.. It's a completely different angle. (although there are pipe bands for Breton binou's and for Spanish gaita's in those localities)
ps: BTW, I don't have anything against GHB
04-09-2002, 05:03 AM
I started out on the path to playing GHP as a means of annoying my neighbor who raised Rotweilers. Got as far as the practice chanter when my wife came to her senses and squelched any further notions in that direction. One year at North Hero I heard Richard Butler on NSP and Hamish Moore playing SSP. Both were sufficiently quiet to be domestically acceptable -- and, since I already knew the "scottish fingering" from the practice chanter, I went in the SSP direction.
Since that point I have been exposed to a wide range of pipe-types and have settled in with some of Julian Goodacre's Leicestershire pipes and his double-chanter "Cornish" pipes.
04-09-2002, 11:16 AM
I was initially "inspired" to play other bagpipes by (1) seeing Sean Fulsom play several international sets at a pub in my home town, and (2) a desire to play with other (non-GHB/pipeband) instruments.
'Started GHBs in high school, and had a chance to try out the Scottish smallpipes at games & gatherings in California. I couldn't afford a set of my own, but by offering to tune and repair other folks' sets, I could get an instrument on loan, sometimes for months at a time!
Eventually I got a mouthblown Pakistani smallpipe, then a quality mouthblown set, then a bellows-blown lowland/smallpipe combo set. It wasn't until after I was married that I finally went nuts and picked up uilleann and Northumbrian pipes, Bulgarian gaida, and hurdy gurdy...
04-09-2002, 06:07 PM
I think you just have to play the instrument that speaks to you; the one that breaks your heart. When I first heard Billy Pigg play "The Wild Hills O'Wannies" on Northumbrian smallpipes, the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up, and I knew I was hooked.
So now I have two sets of NSP, one in F and one in D, and as my interest in border music broadened into Peacock and the Dixon manuscript, I added a set of SSP in A.
I have never played GHB and have no interest in learning to play them.
04-10-2002, 12:54 AM
I was inspired by the playing of Frank Edgely of Windsor, Ontario. I hired him to play at a festival years ago. Frank was playing NSPs, SSPs and border pipes at the time. During the year that followed, I listened to tapes of his performances and became increasingly more intrigued by the pipes. I bought a cheap set of Pakistani parlor pipes and was able to play them enough to get a recognizable tune or two out of them. I realized that playing the pipes was something that I enjoyed and called Frank to inquire about a source of decent pipes and he referred me to Ray Sloan from whom I purchased a set of NSPs and SSPs. I love these pipes for ensemble playing. Later on, having realized that Irish music was my first love, I purchased a half set of Uilleann pipes despite the fears of my friends that I didn't have long enough to live to learn how to play them. I still love them ( the pipes ) dearly.
I've never played GHP and never considered buying a set. I really enjoy ensemble playing and my non-GHP pipes are quiet enough and pitched in just the right keys to do that.
04-10-2002, 07:42 AM
Originally posted by Bill Reeder:
I was inspired by the playing of Frank Edgely of Windsor, Ontario...Congratulations, Bill. you are the 1,000,000th person to spell Frank's name incorrectly! :lol:! Poor guy, no one ever gets it right! It's "Edgley".
BTW: you should see/hear the Anglo concertinas Frank's making now. Awesome! And they just keep getting better and better.
But more in keeping with the topic of this thread: Frank was my introduction to SSP as well. I'd known Frank for years - I first met him when I joined the Scottish Society of Windsor Pipe Band in the mid '70s when he was Pipe Major of that group of lunatics. One day in 1991 he came over to my house with this set of "other" smallpipes. (He'd been playing NSP for some years by then.) He pulled the SSP out of his case, did a quick tuning, and started playing. I was absolutely blown away! I tried them out, managed to come to terms with the bellows and squeeze something out after a short while, and ordered a set from Ray Sloan the next day(!)
That Summer I attended the Hamish Moore Piping School in VT for the first time. There I heard a set of Hamish's Border Pipes. (I think I heard them there; maybe I just heard them on his recording. ;-) Anyway, I ordered a set. I love them - my "Highland Pipes Without The Rules" (tm)!
Eventually I replaced the Sloan SSP with a set from Hamish. (The decision was purely one of tonal preference, BTW; Ray makes excellent instruments.)
There's a huge overlap in the music I play on the three sets of bagpipes I own. For the most part it's Highland repertoire. (Sorry, Iain! ;-) That having been said, I greatly modify embellishments, etc., to capitalize on the unique properties of each instrument and to let the tune say what it wants to say the way it wants to say it on that instrument.
Ken *who would trade every set of bagpipes he owns for a full set of (flat pitch!) Uilleann Pipes and the ability to play them*
I have three sets of bagpipes- GHB, mouthblown SSP with some reed issues, and a medieval Brittany single-drone bagpipe. I play all three as much as possible, which usually winds up being about an hour a night 3 times/week, and more if I have a concert or wedding or whatever comming up. I did start on the GHB, but I got my SSP about 4 years after that (in 1999), and the medieval pipe in 2001. I have so much trouble reeding the SSP that I don't play them as often as I'd like :( and I hope to get some help with that. I have about 6 tolerable tunes on the middle pipe (they aren't baby, mama and papa, but small, middle, and large), and I'm working up more all the time. I have probably 20 tunes "on tap" for the GHB and SSP at any given time, but of course the rotation changes.
I got the SSP so that I could play indoors and not blow everyone away- I'm a medieval reenactor, and we hold "bardic circles", where everyone sits around and sings or tells a story or plays an instrument in turn.
I got the Brittany "middle" pipe for the authenticity factor- the GHB are so blatently modern to me that I was having trouble with not wanting to play them at medieval reenactment events (not that anyone complained), because I am trying in general to become more "authentically medieval". :p :p
05-11-2002, 11:19 AM
My interest in smallpipes is to enable playing with other instruments. Both the volume and key are more friendly to other instruments--unless you like to play with a brass band! Then the GHB is great.
I play regularly in a duo with celtic harp. The D and A pipes blend soooo nicely with the harp!
05-11-2002, 12:36 PM
I play GHBs first, and was inspired to play smallpipes at the Invermark Workshops run by Donald Lindsay. I saw Jim McGillivray playing them. I was inspired very much by the No. Hero Piper's gathering here in VT, and I also hope to switch to Uilleann pipes one day! :humm: Well, once I work out GHB competitions!
05-11-2002, 06:45 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Hedge:
[QB][QUOTE]Originally posted by Daniel MacDougall:
[qb]What may be a more appropriate question is: Do you play the GHB at all?
What are these GHB? Isn't that "Gross Bodily Harm?" in police vernacular?
What would inspire anyone to play non-GHB? Doesn't this presume that everyone already plays GHB?