It is always a pleasure when you discover a whole new world of interest especially where music is concerned and even more so if it involves tweed and skilled British craftsmanship. So it was a great delight to meet William a while back as he strolled into our shop on his way to play at the House of Lords. Few musical instruments include fabric in their construction but pipes are one, although interestingly enough, tweed is also associated with the Marshall Amps but that is a whole other story.
A complete ‘controversy’ of Dashing Northumberland Small Pipes.
You may now be thinking of the highland pipes whose cacophony insures they are banished outdoors, preferably to as high a land as possible. No, William introduced me to a far more sophisticated melodious instrument mostly played by gentleman in their drawing rooms; the Northumberland Smallpipes. I was honoured to have a private recital prior to the Lords and as soon as the complex system of three drones tuned in octaves and a fifth got going the jaunty strains of Bobby Shafto wafted throughout our small shop in the clipped staccato tones characteristic of this small bored melodious instrument.
A 15 key F set and a plain C set both by Colin Ross of Monkseaton.
The Northumberland pipes all feature three tuned drones and getting these in pitch is another quirky feature which requires some skill but gives the very distinct sound and richness to melodies. If you look online it is fascinating how much information there is about the construction and history of this piece of playable history and I was most intrigued to learn that there are a number of celebrated people still making modern pipes, as you can see from William’s photos many of the pipes are made recently by well know craftsmen and players.
Like any form of dress the covering used for the airbag enhances the character of the pipes and William has been tailoring them in a variety of wonderful outfits using Dashing Tweeds. Wearing fine tweed or worsted cloth is always a pleasure and as you can see loving care has gone into giving William’s and his friends pipes new characters befitting them for virtuoso performances in the lime light.