Rothbury Hills

Well the old batteries are very nearly flat and I’ll shortly be heading up North for a Christmas break, after just one more meeting this afternoon about our consolidated grant application which is due in the new year. I can’t help getting a bit sentimental about the land of my birth at this time of year, especially the lovely countryside of Northumberland, so I thought I’d leave you for the holidays with this little clip I found on Youtube which also features the evocative sound of the Northumbrian Smallpipes played by Kathryn Tickell and her band.

Air is blown  through the smallpipes using bellows under the arm rather than the mouth. The  chanter – that’s the bit you finger to produce the notes – has a completely closed end, combined with the unusually tight fingering style (each note is played by lifting only one finger or opening one key) so that the style of playing is staccato; there are no grace notes in the Northumbrian smallpipes tradition. Their sound is also far quieter than most other bagpipes because the bores on both chanter and drones are very narrow. Anyway, I think it’s a beautiful sound and one that’s redolent with nostalgia, for me.

I don’t think I’ll be blogging while I’m up North, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy holiday!


4 Responses to “Rothbury Hills”

  1. ps. I note that one of the most famous historical players of the Northumbrian smallpipes was a chap called John Peacock:

  2. A nice corrective to the tendency to assume that the North East is all urban grime and grit.

    I have a wonderful album with Kathryn Tickell and Corrina Hewat together – Northumbrian pipes and Scottish harp. Magic.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Even if the north goes in for bores and drones, it does sound and look nice.

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