When Colin Ross made my Boxwood 17-key chanter he asked me “do you really want a Bb key?” Apparently they are awkward to make and he was concerned that I wouldn’t make best use of it. I insisted that I did, because playing in G minor on the Northumbrian Smallpipes is one of my favourite keys for the instrument. My set is in ‘F’ which means this actually comes out in F minor when it’s played.
The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing (amazingly for February!) and so were the Northumbrian Smallpipes after some rather overdue ‘fettling’.
All piping (Uilleann, Northumbrian or otherwise) involves a certain amount of ‘fettling’ especially when the weather/seasons change, which can play havoc with your tuning if it happens suddenly and catches you unawares. Brass and metal work were polished, bores were oiled, bindings were re-hemped as required, and drone reeds tweaked, flicked and generally faffed with!
A day or two devoted to maintaining them every now and then is well worth the effort – you just have to be in the right mood to tackle the 17-key chanters with the polishing cloth…
Pictured above are my trusty Colin Ross Boxwood and brass 17-Key F set, and Andy May concert G chanter, and a lovely wee 16-Key G set by Dave McQuade in Blackwood and Nickel Silver. Both beautiful, but completely different beasts in tone and character. Dave McQuade taught me to play way back in the early 80’s so I am delighted and honoured to play a set that he has made.
Friday the 8th of Feb saw a guest outing with Des Horsfall’s ‘Rustic Rock and Roll’ band KUSCHTY RYE. Snapped from the audience is this great pic that shows Des in the light and a shady figure playing Ralphie Jordans old MacCann Duet from ‘the dark side’… I think Ralphie would approve…
Here’s a Youtube tribute to Ralph that features the same box (along with many others!). Gone but not forgotten.
All go at BT HQ this week gearing up for a guest gig with the KUSCHTY RYE chaps. You can catch them this week in and around Halifax (and Barnoldswick!) with more in the pipeline somewhat further afield, so catch them
KUSCHTY RYE is DES HORSFALL….. with an array of wonderful guest musicians. This line-up featured the solid backline grooves of Hugh Bradley on Bass and Dylan Pepper on drums, the mighty Chris Preston on Guitars, Jason Offen on Keys, with Becky adding fiddle, mandolin and a sprinkling of low whistle and concertina.
Without Words – F#minor Reel
This works really well on a high D whistle. F# minor is a lovely key for traditional style music.
Delighted to announce that after over a year of not piping I am now officially ‘Back in the Bellows’. The regime of treatment, rest and focusing on other instruments has paid off and I have now regained full movement in piping-critical RH little finger meaning that I can play properly again.
Many thanks to everyone that has supported and helped me through this difficult (if quieter than usual!) time – you know who you are!
I was very happy to stumble across this track, bringing back very happy memories of Jonathan Taylor and the @TFRUK gang.
More on the The Forgetting Room Project here, sadly cut short by the untimely death of it’s driving force, the much missed Jonathan Taylor.
Messing about with the duet concertina
Here’s something I came across whilst looking for something else (isn’t that always the way!). Messing around on the duet concertina with the odd whistle and pipe thrown in, recorded at Steve Smith’s (now of Kimbers Men fame) in 2016 just before the problems with my hand stopped me playing for a while…good news on that front – I will be back in the bellows soon! Watch this space
All music and arrangement by Becky Taylor, all rights reserved, © 2016
This excellent introduction to Uilleann Piping from NPU is well worth a watch.
This short introduction to Uilleann Piping from Na Píobairí Uilleann features music from Mick O’Brien, Louise Mulcahy, Pat Mitchell, Kevin, Tierna and Naoise Rowsome, Gay McKeon and Jane Walls. Even if you are an experienced piper I think you will find something interesting in it. Well done NPU and thank you!
You can find out more about the work of NPU on their website: http://pipers.ie
This tune came into being after a couple of hours playing on ‘Ted’s Fiddle’, an old fiddle that had not been out of its case for many years and belonging to Edward Arthur Scott. The strings were old style gut and had obviously been on for many years, they were worn and frayed with the marks his second and third fingers had left on them clearly visible. I was too scared to tune it up for fear of them breaking so I settled for ‘in tune with itself’ somewhere way below concert pitch.