Northumbrian Greatpipes

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Northumbrian Greatpipes

Postby Tim Rolls » Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:12 pm

It is recorded in the biography of Jamie Allan in 1818 that:

“He could play on the highland bagpipe but he excelled on the sweet small pipes. He also played well on the Northumberland raising or gathering pipes, called the great pipes to distinguish them from the small ones; and could perform very well on the Union pipes.”

What does anyone know of these Great pipes, are they our Border Pipes, or are they extinct?

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Re: Northumbrian Greatpipes

Postby Matt Seattle » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:35 pm

Bagpipe nomenclature has given rise to lively discussion elsewhere. The first reference to the term Border pipes also occurs about the same time as this; the term half-long was later used by members of Jock Milburn's family. I am inclined to suspect that these are all the same instrument, also called the 'common' bagpipe, but I doubt if it is possible to establish this as fact.

There are those who disagree with me, but taking all the lore about Dorrington Lads together with the versions of the tune recorded by William Dixon and John Rook, I believe that the Border pipes (whatever you call them) were a bigger part of the Allan story than is commonly thought.
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Re: Northumbrian Greatpipes

Postby Dally » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:18 am

Not having the Chantry Bagpipe Museum close at hand, I'd guess the reference is to something we would recognize as a Border pipe, otherwise known as Lowland pipes and reel pipes. Wouldn't it be a revelation to hear how Allen played any of the instruments he is reported to have played! Perhaps, it was a single drone instrument such as Chaucer's Miller played. It seems remarkable that the biographer mentions the different types of pipes but doesn't comment on the differences between them. Perhaps it was taken for granted that anyone reading it at the time it was written would know instantly what the biographer was talking albout.
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Re: Northumbrian Greatpipes

Postby adrian » Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:35 am

Raising or Gathering pipes? Hmm, sounds like a 'knocker-upper' or a compere to bring in the crowds.
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