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rec.music.makers.bagpipe Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ), Part1/2


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Archive-name: music/bagpipe/faq
Rec-music-makers-archive-name: bagpipe/faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1996/2/15
URL: http://www2.southwind.net/~denisem/bagpipe_faq.html

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
REC.MUSIC.MAKERS.BAGPIPE FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)    
Part 1 of 2
Questions and Answers


This list contains a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from the
Usenet news group rec.music.makers.bagpipe. Additionally, it contains
information on topics of general interest to pipers, listeners, and other
enthusiasts. This is part 1 of 2, and contains questions and answers. Part 
2 is a list of piping-related resources, to include makers, suppliers, 
retailers, organizations, and schools.

This FAQ is maintained by Denise McNickle (denisem@southwind.net), who is solely
responsible for any mistakes and/or inaccuracies. Comments, suggestions,
corrections and complaints are always welcome.

Few changes from last version. Added a few organizations/publications
and updated internet resources.

          
CONTENTS BY TOPIC:

0)  Introduction.
1)  Administrative Questions. 
2)  The Great Highland Bagpipe.
3)  The Uilleann (Union) Bagpipe.
4)  Other Types of Bagpipe.
5)  Reed 'Em and Weep. (under construction)
6)  All the Tunes in the World.
7)  The Printed Word.
8)  Internet Resources.
9)  Modern Technology (electronic pipes, plastic reeds, etc.).
10) Miscellany.


0)  Introduction.
-----------------

    The information in this FAQ is drawn from questions, answers and
discussion in the bagpipe mailing list archives from June 1992 to February
1995, and from the Usenet news group rec.music.makers.bagpipe. Answers to the
questions in this FAQ are drawn from The Collected Wisdom of the group. Any
inaccuracies and/or errors in this document are the sole responsibility of the
author, and not of specific individual group members. Comments and suggestions
regarding the content and structure of this document should be forwarded by
e-mail to the author at: <denisem@southwind.net>.


1)  Administrative Questions.
-----------------------------

1.1)  What is this news group?

A:  The group rec.music.makers.bagpipe is for people with a shared interest in
all topics related to piping. The Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) and Uilleann
Pipe (UP) are the two main instruments of choice, but just about every
conceivable kind of bagpipe is represented among the interests of readers and
posters.


1.2)  Are there any news group posting guidlines?

A:  Not specifically. However, some common sense etiquette can be applied
to reduce the blood pressure of your fellow piping enthusiasts:

    - Give a few seconds of thought to the "Subject" line of your post. A
descriptive subject helps people to find messages on topics which interest
them. You might consider prefacing your "Subject" with a parenthesized
instrument identifier; [GHB] for Great Highland Bagpipe, [UP] for Uilleann
Pipe, [NSP] for Northumbrian Smallpipe, [ALL] for all, and so on.

    - Be careful how you quote when you reply to a post. Or, to put it
more directly, try not to over-quote. It's really irritating to get a
116-line message when 115 lines are quoted from a previous message and
the only new line is the 116th which says: "Me, too".

    - Reply directly when appropriate. If you want to respond to someone's
post and your response is of an individual, personal nature, then it may
be better to e-mail the person directly.

    - Make sure you know how to use your news reader. 


1.3)  Is there an archive of old messages and/or postings?

A:  At the moment, an archive of bagpipe mailing list messages from 1992 to
roughly March 1995 is accessible via ftp from cs.dartmouth.edu in the
directory /pub/bagpipes. Mailing list archiving was discontinued after
creation of the Usenet news group in early 1995.



2)  The Great Highland Bagpipe.
-------------------------------

2.1)  What is a Great Highland Bagpipe?

A:  The Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) is native to Scotland and is the pipe
most people think of when bagpipes are mentioned. Main pipe components include
a bag, a blowstick, a number of single-reed drone pipes (usually three), and a
double-reed chanter. The GHB is usually played in a standing position with the
bag held between the piper's arm and side. The drones rest against the piper's
shoulder and point upward. The bag provides a constant supply of air to the
pipes, and is inflated by blowing into it through the blowstick. The piper
produces sound by inflating the bag and applying pressure to the bag with the
arm. The air escapes through the drones and chanter, via reeds placed within
each pipe. The drones produce a constant tone in accompaniment to the chanter.
The GHB usually has three drones: two tenor drones tuned an octave below the
chanter's low A, and a longer bass drone tuned one octave below the tenor
drones. The chanter usually has eight finger holes, two tone holes, and a
range of nine notes from low G to high A. 


2.2)  How hard is it to learn?

A:  The GHB is a complex instrument, and the initial learning curve is rather
steep. A fair amount of dedication and perserverence is required to develop
the initial skills necessary for playing the pipes well. It is definitely not
an instrument to be learned easily and lightly. On the positive side, initial
success with the GHB produces a sense of accomplishment not often found with
lesser instruments.


2.3)  I want to learn to play the GHB; what do I do first?

A:  The first thing you'll want to do is get a practice chanter, as you'll 
put in a fair amount of time on it before you move on to the pipes. You'll 
also use it throughout your piping life, so it may be best to get a good one 
right at the start. The practice chanter is just that - a pipe chanter which 
is used for practice. It consists of a chanter body, a mouthpiece, and a reed. 
Practice chanters come in "short" and "long" sizes, where "long" practice 
chanters are those which approximate the size of the real pipe chanter. Many 
people advocate the use of a long practice chanter, claiming that it's easier 
to transition to the pipe chanter. 


2.4)  Okay, I've got a practice chanter, now what?

A:  You'll also want to find a teacher. There are several ways of doing this.
If there is a pipe band in your area, you might query one of the band members.
There will often be one or more band members who conduct lessons for
beginners; it's a time-honored technique for recruiting new band members. You
can also contact one of the piping associations such as the EUSPBA - these
associations often have a list of teachers in various local areas.


2.5)  I live in the Aleutian islands and there are no GHB teachers here. 
What can I do?

A:  Well, you can get one or more of the excellent printed tutorials available
(see "The Printed Word", below). For some additional expense, you can also get 
accompanying audio and video tapes. See the "Suppliers" in the part 2.


2.6)  What will a set of Highland bagpipes cost me, and where do I find them?

A:  The cost of a set of pipes will vary greatly depending on maker and
materials. Cheap instruments can be had for a few hundred dollars, and high-
quality pipes made from expensive materials can go well into four figures
(dollars *or* pounds!). If you're going to be at all serious about playing you
should avoid cheap imitations - with cheap pipes, you get exactly what you pay 
for.

    A set of good-quality pipes from a reputable maker can be had new for 
about $1000. A good used set can cost less. If you want fancy silver or ivory
ornamentation the price explodes. You can always get pipes directly from the
maker, and you can also get pipes from many of the suppliers in the resource
list (see Part 2).


2.7)  I can play the practice chanter better if I finger the notes like I do
on a tin whistle. That's O.K., isn't it?

A:  Well, no. The practice chanter approximates the sound you get from the
pipe chanter, but not entirely. If you finger the notes incorrectly on the
pipe chanter, you'll find that you often fail to produce a true tone. Also,
you'll find it impossible to correctly perform many of the common gracings.



3)  The Uilleann (Union) Bagpipe.
---------------------------------

3.1)  What is an Uilleann Pipe?

A:  The Uilleann pipe (UP) is a type of bagpipe native to Ireland. The UP is
mechanically somewhat complex, and is normally meant to be played while
seated. It has a range of up to 2 octaves, and is usually pitched in the key
of D. The piper inflates the bag by operating a bellows with one arm, and
maintains pressure on the bag with the other arm. Main UP components include a
bag, a bellows, a double-reed chanter, zero or more drones (usually three), 
and zero or more stopped pipes called regulators (usually three). 


3.2)  I'd like to get started playing the Uilleann pipes. I keep hearing about
practice sets, half sets, full sets and so on. What are the differences and
which do I need to get started?

A:  A practice set consists of a bag, bellows, and chanter, and is all you
really need to get started. A half set consists of the practice set plus the
drones, and is also reasonable for beginning players though you'll find that
you won't actually use the drones for quite some time. A full set consists of
the half set plus regulators. If you're just starting out on the pipes then it
may be a matter of years before you're comfortable enough to manipulate the
entire full set.


3.3)  Where do I get Uilleann pipes, and how much will they cost me?

A:  Uilleann pipes are less widely available than are Highland pipes, and
therefore you may have to do a bit more searching. Some of the suppliers
listed in part 2 deal in Uilleann pipes. Alternatively, you may wish to 
purchase a used set of pipes or a new set directly from a maker. Be aware that
many pipe makers (especially the better ones) have backlogs, and there may be
a long wait for a new set of pipes. As with Highland pipes, prices can vary
widely. Good-quality half sets (new) can be found for as little as $1,200 and
as much as $2,500. Practice sets may cost less, while full sets will cost a
lot more.


3.4)  What else should I look for when starting?

A:  As with any instrument, a good teacher is invaluable. You may also wish 
to consider one of the tutorials listed in "The Printed Word", below. Also, 
you'd be well-advised to find one or more good books or pamphlets on 
reedmaking. Uilleann pipers should learn to make reeds early and often.
Uilleann pipe reeds seem to be significantly less "interchangeable" than
Highland pipe reeds. In other words, a chanter reed that works well in one UP
chanter may not work well at all in yours. Unless you know of a good reedmaker
in your area, you're going to be making and/or tweaking your own reeds.


3.5)  Do Uilleann pipes play a lot differently than Highland pipes?

A:  Yes. The Uilleann pipes have a much wider range than do the Highland pipes
(two octaves versus nine notes). Also, the spacing of the finger holes on the
chanter is quite different, as is the fingering technique.



4)  Other Types of Bagpipe.
---------------------------

4.1)  What are Northumbrian pipes?

A:  The Northumbrian small pipe (NSP) is a small, bellows-blown pipe featuring
as many as four or five drones and a cylindrical-bored closed chanter. This
differs from Highland and Uilleann pipes, which have conically-bored open
chanters. The Northumbrian pipe takes its name from the county of
Northumberland in the north of England, and is native to that area and the
borders. The NSP produces a distinct sweetness of tone which, among other
things, probably inspired this standard joke among Northumbrian pipers: 
"Q: What's the difference between the NSP and the GHB?  A: The NSP is a
musical instrument".

    The NSP chanter usually has keys to provide semitones and to extend the
range of the chanter.  The most common has 7 keys with a range of about an
octave and a half, although up to 18 keys may be found on some instruments. 
The traditional pitch is about one third of a semitone sharp of F although
many pipes can be found in concert F, concert G and also some in concert D. 


4.2)  What is a Scottish Small Pipe?

A:  The Scottish Small Pipe (SSP) is a bellows-blown instrument and a sort of
"cousin" to the GHB. Scottish small pipes usually come with three drones, but
in most cases there will be a bass, baritone, and tenor drone as opposed to
the 1-bass 2-tenor GHB setup. SSP chanters come in a variety of keys, with A
and D being most common. Chanter fingering is similar to the GHB.


4.3)  What are "cauld wind" pipes?

A:  The term "Cauld Wind Pipes" is generally used to refer to bellows-blown
pipes native to Scotland. These include the Scottish smallpipe, Pastoral pipe,
and Border pipe.



5)  Reed 'Em and Weep.
----------------------

NOTE:  This section is intended for some of the more basic questions and
answers regarding reed selection and reed maintenance, and will be filled
for a later version of this document. Submissions welcome.



6)  All the Tunes in the World.
-------------------------------

6.1)  I'm looking for the music to tune X. What sort of tune books are
available to pipers?

A:  A partial list of available tune books might easily triple the length of 
this document. Suffice it to say that there is a rather vast array of tune 
books available for all types of pipe. 

    As to finding a specific tune, you're in luck. James Stewart maintains a 
very thorough annotated index of tunes in very accessible format. This index 
includes over 20,000 well-known and little-known tunes, and is freely 
available over the Internet. See "Internet Resources", below, for downloading 
instructions.


6.2)  Is there any music notation software available for pipe music?

A:  There are several software packages available for pipe music. Some are
free and some are commercial. The most common free package is Bagpipe TeX
(see 6.3), which can be used on almost any hardware platform. There is also 
some publicly-available software to play and/or convert tunes written in 
"abc" notation (see 6.4 and 6.5). Two commercial packages often mentioned are
Robert MacNeil's "Bagpipe Music Writer" (for PC's), and "Lime" (for Mac).


6.3)  What is bagpipe.tex and how is it used?

A:  Bagpipe TeX is a freely-available set of TeX macros developed by Walter 
Innes for use with MusicTeX. It takes advantage of the peculiarities and 
simplicities of music for the highland bagpipes to make entry considerably 
simpler than using native MusicTeX. There are macros for all common and many 
not so common grace note sequences, the pitches are given their common names, 
and there are extensive macros for beamed note groups. TeX, MusicTeX and 
bagpipe.tex can be run on almost any hardware platform, including PC's. See 
"Internet Resources" below for downloading instructions.


6.4)  What is "abc" notation?

A:  "abc" notation is a relatively simple ASCII notation for tunes, and is 
sometimes used as an easy means for transferring tunes back and forth.


6.5)  Are there any conversion/manipulation utilities available?

A:  Yes. Chris Walshaw's "abc2mtex" package is freely available and in wide
use. This package is used to convert tunes written in "abc" format to TeX
format for elegant printing. Available by anonymous ftp from the Ceolas
archive (address in "Internet Resources", below).


6.6)  Are there any music-playing utilities for tunes written in these
formats?

A:  Yes. Don Ward has written a program called "playabc" which plays abc-
format tunes on the speaker of a Sparc workstation. It's available via
anonymous ftp from the Ceolas archive (see "Internet Resources", below).


6.7)  What is Bagpipe Music Writer, and how do I get it?

A:  Bagpipe Music Writer is software for notation of bagpipe music. It runs 
on PC's under MS-DOS.  I believe that MS-Windows versions may now be
available. Contact:

            Robert MacNeil Musicworks
            8865 Finch Court
            Burnaby, BC
            Canada V5A 4K6
            Tel(CA): 604 421-5684    Fax(CA): 604 421-5686    
            E-mail: RM_Musicworks@mindlink.bc.ca
            WWW:  http://mindlink.net/RM_Musicworks


6.8)  What is Lime, and how do I get it?

A:  Lime is music notation software for the Mac. It is reported to handle
gracings better than other Mac software. A free demonstration version of
Lime can be had by anonymous FTP from cerl.uiuc.edu in /pub/lime. Lime
can be purchased from:

        Electronic Courseware Systems
        1210 Lancaster Drive
        Champaign, IL 61821
        (217) 359-7099
        1-800-832-4965
        FAX   359-6578




7)  The Printed Word.
---------------------

7.1)  I'm interested in books related to learning the Highland bagpipe. Which
books are recommended?

A:  The most recommended tutorial among list members is the College of
Piping's "Highland Bagpipe Tutor". This tutorial comes in three parts and is
available directly from the College of Piping or just about any shop that
deals in piping equipment (see part 2 of this FAQ for a shop near you). Also
highly recommended is Sandy Jones' "Beginning the Bagpipe - A Teaching Method
for the Practice Chanter". Widely available in most North American shops;
somewhat less so in the U.K. A third well-known tutorial is Logan's Tutor.
General opinion holds that Logan's may be too difficult as a first tutorial.


7.2)  Are there any books available for beginners learning to play the
Uilleann pipes?

A:  Yes, though they may be a bit harder to find. Highly recommended is H.J.
Clarke's "The New Approach to Uilleann Piping", which comes with an
accompanying cassette. Another somewhat less thorough tutor is Leo Rowsome's
"Tutor for the Uileann Pipes" (first published in 1936). Two other tutors for
the UP are: "The Tutor: Irish Union Pipes, A Workbook", Denis Brooks, 1985
(available from the Irish Pipers Club), and "Learn to Play Uilleann Pipes 
with the Armagh Pipers Club", Eithne and H.B. Vallely, 1981 (also available
from the Irish Pipers Club).


7.3)  Are there any monthly or quarterly magazines of interest to pipers?

A:  Yes indeed. Some of the most frequently-mentioned follow; addresses for
these and others are in part 2 of this FAQ.

      NAME                    FREQUENCY         CONTACT
      The Piping Times        monthly           College of Piping
      Piper and Drummer       quarterly         PPBSO
      An Piobaire             4-5 per year      Na Piobairi Uilleann
      The Voice               quarterly         EUSPBA
      Words & Music           quarterly         WUSPBA


7.4)  What about general interest books on piping?

A:  The following books have been mentioned often. Sources, if available, are
given in brackets. Addresses for the sources appear in part 2.

      Baines, Anthony, "Bagpipes", Oxprint Ltd., 1960, ISSN 0306-7343

      Breathnach, Brendan, "Ceol Rince na hEireann" (vol 1-3) [Na Piobari
      Uilleann]

      Butler, Richard, "A Tutor for the Northumbrian Pipes" [Northumbrian
      Pipers Society]

      Butler, Richard, "A Handbook for the Northumbrian Pipes" [Northumbrian
      Pipers Society]

      Cannon, R.D., "The Highland Bagpipe and its Music", John Donald
      Publishers Ltd., Edinburgh, 1988, ISBN 0-85976-153-3.

      Cannon, R.D. (ed), "Joseph Macdonald's compleat Theory of the Scots
      Highland Bagpipe", The Piobaireachd Society, ISBN 1-898405-41-7.

      Cannon, R.D., "A Bibliography of Bagpipe Music", Glasgow, Bell & Bain
      Ltd, 1980, ISBN 0-85976-024-3

      Cocks, W., and Bryan, "The Northumbrian Bagpipe" (out of print)
      [Northumbrian Pipers Society]  NOTE: This book, though mentioned
      often, has long been out of print.

      Garvin, Wilbert, "The Irish bagpipes : their construction and 
      maintenance", Belfast, Blackstaff Press, 1978, ISBN 0-85640-149-8.

      Krassen, Miles, "O'Neill's Music of Ireland", New York, Oak,
      1976, ISBN 0-8256-0173-8.

      Pondos, Theodor H., "Bagpipes and Tunings", Information Coordinators
      Inc., 1435-37 Randolph St., Detroit, Mich., 48226, ISBN 911772-52-9.

      Routledge, Tomas O'Canainn and Kegan, Paul, "Traditional Music in 
      Ireland", London, Henley and Boston, 1978


8)  Internet Resources.
-----------------------

8.1)  What bagpipe-related pages are available on the World Wide Web (WWW)?

A:  As you might already know, the number and content of Web sites increases 
daily. Therefore the following list is sure to be only partial: 


This Bagpipe FAQ:

     http://www2.southwind.net/~denisem  (in the Bagpipes section)
      

John Wash's bagpipe home page. Probably your best place to "surf" 
for piping material on the Web: 

    http://pipes.tico.com/pipes/pipes.html


David Daye's bagpipe page. Probably more neat stuff than humans should be 
allowed on one page:

    http://www-bprc.mps.ohio-state.edu/~bdaye/bagpipes.html


Aliatair Fraser's list of University-based pipe bands:

    http://www.ems.psu.edu/~fraser/PipeBands.html


Brian Nelson's list of bagpipe teachers:

    http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/instruments/Bagpipe_teachers


The Western U.S. Pibe Band Association (WUSPBA):

    http://www.sonic.net/~jcreager/WUSPBA/wuspba.html


Manuel Carro's Galician pipes page:

    http://www.clip.dia.fi.upm.es/~boris/gaita/

The abc2mtex and playabc utilities:

   abc2mtex introduction:
      http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/tunes/abc2mtex/INTRO.html

   abc notation:
      http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/tunes/abc2mtex/abc.txt
      http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/tunes/abc2mtex/usrguide.ps

   the abc2mtex and playabc packages:
      http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/tunes/abc2mtex/abc2mtex.tar.gz
      http://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/tunes/playabc-1.1.tar.gz


Michael Loehr's folk tunes: 

    http://este.darmstadt.gmd.de:5000/~loehr/music.html
 

8.2)  Where can I get Bagpipe TeX?

A:  Before getting Bagpipe TeX you'll first need TeX and MusicTeX. TeX is
the actual binary executable, and MusicTeX/Bagpipe TeX are macros which are
used with TeX.

    If you are using a Unix system, you may want to see whether TeX and 
MusicTeX are already installed. If you need to get them, they can be had by
anonymous FTP from any of the following sites:

SITE              TeX Directory           MusicTeX Directory

ftp.shsu.edu      /tex-archive            /tex-archive/macros/musictex
ftp.dante.de      /tex-archive            /tex-archive/macros/musictex 
ftp.tex.ac.uk     /tex-archive            /tex-archive/macros/musictex

Bagpipe TeX is available by anonymous ftp from celtic.stanford.edu in the
directory /pub/tunes/bagpipe.tex

PC AND MAC USERS NOTE: the above assumes you are installing TeX on a Unix 
system. If you wish to install on a PC you will need EmTeX instead of TeX. If 
you are installing on a Mac you will need OzTeX instead of TeX. In either case 
you will also need MusicTeX and Bagpipe TeX. Instructions for downloading and 
installing TeX, MusicTeX and bagpipe.tex on a PC are available on the WWW as:
http://www2.southwind.net/~denisem  (in the Bagpipes section)


8.3)  How do I get James Stewart's index of tunes?

A:  By anonymous ftp from <ftp.stolaf.edu>. The good people at St. Olaf use 
some amazing conventions for directory names, so this is going to take a few
keystrokes on your part. The tune index is located in the directory:

      gopher/Internet Resources/St. Olaf Sponsored Mailing Lists/  \
      Omni-Cultural-Academic-Resource/Fine-Arts/Music/folk-tunes

(yes, those are spaces). To get to the tune directory, ftp to <ftp.stolaf.edu>
and login as "anonymous" (without quotes). Once logged in, the following 
commands should get you everything. Note that some of the commands below *do* 
contain quotes, and these quotes *should* be typed:

            FTP> cd gopher
            FTP> cd "Internet Resources"
            FTP> cd "St. Olaf Sponsored Mailing Lists"
            FTP> cd Omni-Cultural-Academic-Resource
            FTP> cd Fine-Arts
            FTP> cd Music
            FTP> cd folk-tunes
            FTP> prompt
            FTP> mget *


8.4)  What is the Ceolas archive?

A:  Quoted from Ceolas files:

      "Ceolas is an information service for celtic music, dedicated to
      distributing high-quality information on all aspects of celtic music by 
      means of the internet. We source information from official bodies, 
      commercial interests, other individuals on the net and our own 
      researches. By 'filtering' commercially-supplied information, we hope to
      avoid the bias and advertising hyperbole that has previously caused 
      disputes between the commercial and internet worlds."

The Ceolas archive can be reached by anonymous ftp to celtic.stanford.edu, or
by world wide web at (http://celtic.stanford.edu/ceolas.html).


8.5)  Can you save me some searching and point out items of piping interest in
the Ceolas archive?

A:  Well, O.K.

      Archive catalog:              /pub/catalog
      Bagpipe TeX:                  /pub/tunes/bagpipe.tex
      abc2mtex software:            /pub/tunes/abc2mtex
      playabc software:             /pub/tunes/playabc-1.1.tar.Z
      Bibliography of pipe books:   /pub/Instruments/pipes.biblio
      Uilleann pipe discography:    /pub/Instruments/uileann.discog
      Uillean Pipe Makers           /pub/Instruments/uileann.pipe.addresses
      Tunes in bagpipe.tex format:  /pub/tunes/tunes.bagpipe.tex
      Tunes in "abc" format:        /pub/tunes/abc.tunes




9)  Modern Technology (electronic pipes, plastic reeds, etc.).
--------------------------------------------------------------

9.1)  Electronic bagpipes? Are you kidding?

A:  Not at all. Electronic pipes have been around for several years now.
Incidentally, most electronic pipes do not involve the use of a bag. The sort
of configuration you might expect to see will include a chanter (often
plastic) which is connected to a box containing the electronics. The chanter
usually operates via some type of sensor - either touch pads or embedded
sensors. The "electronic bagpipes" referred to here are all meant to simulate
the GHB. The author is unaware of any electronic versions of other pipes.


9.2)  Well, then, who makes them and what are they good for?

A:  Two makes of electronic pipe have come up most often. The first is the
"Bazzpipe", made by Bazzell Cowan. The second is the G.H. Boyd Electronic 
Bagpipe, made by G.H. Boyd. General opinion holds that electronic bagpipes can
be handy for practice, especially in cases where the player has to be quiet.
Electronic pipes can also be handy for beginning players who may be somewhat
limited in blowing strength, but who wish to spend more time on fingering
technique. Addresses follow:

      Bazzell Cowan                  G.H. Boyd Music Systems
      810 Hollybluff                 P.O. Box 608276
      Austin, TX  78753  USA         Chicago, IL  60660   USA
      (512) 836-3472                 (312) 274-4087

If you are closer to the U.K., you might try Charles Young. According to Don
Ward, he makes electronic versions of Highland, Northumbrian and Scottish 
smallpipes. MIDI interfaces available:

                        Charles Young
                        The Smiddy, Middleton
                        Gorebridge, Midlothian  EH23 4RL
                        Scotland
                        Tel(UK): 0875 21997

Finally, the author has heard that Naill may make an electronic bagpipe.
Confirmation/denial and a point of contact would be appreciated.


9.3)  What are plastic reeds, and how are they used?

A:  The most common use of plastic reeds occurs with the GHB practice chanter.
Some people estimate that 90-95% of the practice chanters played today use
plastic reeds.

    Another widespread use of plastic is in drone reeds for the Highland pipe.
Ross and Champion plastic drone reeds feature a plastic body and a cane
tongue. Shepherd plastic drone reeds use a plastic tongue. The tongue is
usually held in place with a rubber wrap at the bottom, and a rubber band is
used as a bridle. The cane tongue is varnished, supposedly to protect against
moisture. 

    Some players of bellows-blown pipes sometimes use plastic-bladed
chanter reeds (often made from yogurt containers).


9.4)  Are plastic drone reeds any good?

A:  As to Ross and Champion reeds, you won't find general agreement on this
question. People who like them say that once they're properly set up they're
quite consistent and require little maintenance. People who don't like them
say that they produce an inferior tone to cane and are too easily affected by
moisture or a changing environment. As of this writing the Shepherd plastic
reeds are very new on the market, so general opinion has yet to be heard. 


9.5)  I've heard that artificial materials are used to make some bags. What
are these bags, and are they better than hide or leather?

A:  The type of bag you're referring to is commonly called a Canmore bag.
Canmore bags are made of a synthetic fabric called Gore-Tex. Some people swear
by them: they're lighter and easy to maintain (never need seasoning). Other
people swear at them, saying that they are too light and that the mechanism
used to hold the stocks (o-rings) is too unreliable.



10) Miscellany.
---------------

10.1)  Are there societies and/or associations for people with an interest in
piping?

A:  Yes indeed, quite a few. They are listed (with addresses) in the resource
list (part 2 of this FAQ) under "Organizations".


10.2)  I also have an interest in drumming. Anything out there?

A:  Yes. There is a side drum mailing list out there as well. The following
quote is taken from a quasi-regular post to the bagpipe mailing list:
 
   "SIDEDRUM is a list for those students, participants, and interested 
   parties in the development, and support of Scottish Style Drumming of all
   sorts (Side, Rhythm Tenor, Flourish Tenor, and Bass Drums). To subscribe to
   the list send a message to LISTSERV@solinet.net and include the following
   in the body of the message:
 
      Subscribe SIDEDRUM Your full name
 
   To send a message to the list, address the message to:
 
      SIDEDRUM@solinet.net



10.3)  Is there an available list of piping competitions and/or Highland
games?

A:  A list of games in North America is available from the "Scottish
Gatherings" newsletter (see part 2 under "Publications"). A list of games,
festivals, and competitions in both Europe and North America can be had
from the Ceolas archive:

    ftp://celtic.stanford.edu/pub/festivals/

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM