Help Identifying New Pipes

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Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Ben Power » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:42 pm

Hi All,

I've just been given these nice wee keyless pipes on indefinite loan (I mostly play Irish flute and, more recently, Scottish small and border pipes) and was wondering if anyone might be able to identify them as to maker, age or anything else. They seem to play quite nicely (insofar as I can get myself to lift one finger at a time) now that I've tamed the reed a bit. Many thanks.
Ben

Image
DSC03784 by bepoq

Image
DSC03783 by bepoq
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby adrian » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:51 pm

They haven't been played much!
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Ben Power » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:20 pm

no, I don't suppose they have. I'll try to find out where my mate got them, but so far I've no clues about them at all. Quite enjoying them though.
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Francis Wood » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:33 pm

Hi Ben,

Those pipes look nice. Easy to identify what they are though by whom and when would be problematic.

They are quite certainly a set of pipes made in the style of John Dunn who worked round the turn of the 18th & 19th centuries. A similar set is dated 1797. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dunn_(bagpipe_maker)

These will have been made from the drawings of Jim Bryan, who had his rather individual ideas of what a Dunn blowpipe should look like. He was a co-author with Will Cocks, of the first book about making Northumbrian smallpipes in 1967

There are quite a few anonymous sets around, many of them constructed in evening classes. Some but not all are good. Yours seems, from the available photos, to show good craftsmanship. The material of the dronestock and blowpipe is lignum vitae, a very suitable wood which seems to have fallen out of use in recent years. A closer view of the chanter and drones might confirm that they are of the same wood but at present it's hard to tell.

Francis
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby adrian » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:51 pm

Yes, they are new!
Inside -out bag. Bag cut-outs for both stocks are not star-shape. Chanter holes are not undercut but are hacked away, up and down. Ferrules are solid metal,not tapered or seamed, not thin metal or metal of the old days. No stoppers in drone ends. No grooves on blowpipe for cotton or hemp. The wood would be darker if it was an old set, on the chanter, due to water, oil and the elements.
I conclude this is a set made by someone who is new to pipe-making but could inprove.Maybe someone named Tom, bepoq or Ben Power.
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Ben Power » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:38 pm

thanks very much Francis, very interesting information, I'm much obliged. Adrian, I see what you mean about all these things and I've no doubt you are right too. I am entirely new to Northumbrian piping, as I mentioned. It is a little hard to tell over a message board, but your post there didn't sound terribly friendly and I can't quite figure out why that might be. If I'd made them, or knew who had, I'd not have asked about them and I'm a bit surprised at someone suggesting otherwise tbh.
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Julia Say » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:06 pm

Ben, don't be put off by Adrian's manner of writing. He's an expert player, and all of what he catalogues is correct. I think some other potential contributors have been holding off because - as Francis says - it is not possible to positively identify the specific maker.
The inside out bag (as Adrian puts it) plus the bag shape immediately puts it outside the Northumbrian pipemaking mainstream. Provided the bag is airtight this is not a major problem, just if you transfer to a more "normal" set, you will need a little transition time.

The ferrules are constructed of brass tube, rather than rolled from sheet. This is not a problem, it's just diagnostic of a more modern set. Had brass tube been available to Dunn and his colleagues in 1800 or so, I'm sure they would have used it and saved the effort of making it. Today's makers still can't get silver tube - and those sets using it have ferrules rolled from sheet metal to this day.

I suspect this set might have been made by someone more familiar with English and continental bagpipes than Northumbrian, but a careful craftsman (craftsperson?) nevertheless. I agree that it's based on drawing=s from Cocks and Bryan.

The main question is - does it play nicely, and are you happy playing it?

Julia
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby adrian » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:02 pm

Didn't mean to be off-putting, Ben, but these pipes are shown elsewhere as: Tom's pipes and bepoq's photostream. I unintentionally put your name at the end, sorry.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/39706702@N ... 23/detail/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/39706702@N ... 652015276/
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Ben Power » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:47 pm

Thanks, Julia. I wasn't put off at all by Adrian's diagnostic, which I found both convincing and useful, rather, it was his suggestion that I'd made them myself and then put them up on here lying about it (which I can't figure out why he might think that to be honest—though maybe there's a much larger amateur maker thing going on with Northumbrian pipes that no doubt leads to practices I don't know anything about), and I have to say that annoyed me for a minute when I read it. I've really not got an ego about these wee pipes themselves though, as they came for free and I know nothing about either them or the tradition they're (sort of, as it turns out) from. Anyway, no worries, I was a bit piqued for a moment is all.

I didn't, by the way, particularly think that they were old (or at least older than was long enough to tarnish the brass). Even without Adrian's expertise in this tradition, it is pretty clear they're not an antique set simply by the condition of them (nary a dinge on the wood) and I was assuming a living, or until recently living maker. From the state of the bag (stiff in an an odd sort of way, which I forgot to mention) and the brass though, it seems they've been sitting untouched for a good while, perhaps since made, so what I was wondering about, with age, is more like when in the last 40 years, as in, recent or very recent. It may come as news, but the other bellows pipes traditions don't, by and large, have such a big amateur maker/evening class (this was complete news to me, thanks for that Francis) tradition, and in my home tradition of Irish music, you can very frequently tell who made what and when with uilleann pipes going back quite a way and up to very recent sets. I obviously shouldn't have assumed it works the same way here though, and I suppose there goes the chance of finding out their provenance. Pity, I'm quite interested in that sort of thing—I do my research on instrument makers in traditional music you see.

They do seem to be reasonably turned though, so perhaps you're right about someone with familiarity with another sort of pipes, and, yes Francis, they appear to be lignum vitae throughout. As to how they play, well, unfortunately, I've no frame of reference to judge I'm afraid. I can say that with a bit of beeswax they are playably in tune with themselves and that I've been enjoying playing them to an extent I wouldn't initially have suspected with NSP, though this makes me wonder if I may have been unknowingly carrying some odd sort of prejudice there, as, before a recent trip around the border country talking to a few pipemakers and players and visiting the museum, I'd never really given them much of a listen (let alone tried to play them)—having said that, they've never really come in my way before. These have a nice buzzy sound and blend and definitely have the Northumbrian pipe sound (generally speaking, that is, and from an untutored ear), but how they would perform against a well made set I've no way of knowing. I do like them enough to have decided that I'll have to look to get a decent set when I can afford it. I was straight onto the bloke who just posted the two sets, but they're well out of my reach for the time being (that is, until I decide I'm likely to play enough to invest that sort of money). If anyone has a useful, inexpensive, well worn set (playability of far more interest than any cosmetic notions), that they're not playing anymore and might be willing to part with, please let me know.

Here is a question. If my recently and tenuously gained understanding is that a G set is generally the set for playing with other instruments, what is a D set most useful for (which I would have guessed would be most useful for playing with other instruments)? Is it simply a pleasant key to play in, dropping everything down that happens to be reasonably useful for playing with other instruments?

Cheers,

Ben


Edited to say I Just saw the post above, ta mate.
Last edited by Ben Power on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help Identifying New Pipes

Postby Ben Power » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:52 pm

oh no bother mate, I'm happy again, don't give it a second thought. Aye, that was me putting them up there on flickr, trying to get them on here for youse lot to look at so I could ask your advice. I often use bepoq as a user name and Tom was my mate who bought them a couple of years back by mistake and just lent them to me (he doesn't play any bellows pipes but plays the great pipes a bit and thought they were Scottish smallpipes—should have see his face when he found the chanter hadn't an open end—I had to tell I thought they must be Northumbrian pipes, though I wasn't even sure as I'd only ever seen keyed sets). I can sort of see why you might begin to be a bit suspicious about it now actually.
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