ENGLISH GREAT PIPE
THIS STRIDENT MOUTH-BLOWN PIPE TAKES ITS INSPIRATION FROM A FAMOUS EARLY ENGLISH BAGPIPER, THE MILLER IN CHAUCER'S "CANTERBURY TALES".
'A baggepype wel coude he blowe and sowne
and ther-with-al he brought us out of town.'

My design, originally made for Pete Stewart when he played with the late lamented Sheffield band Tight Squeeze, is closely modelled on an illustration from the 15th Century Ellesmere Manuscript, showing the Miller on horseback. His mouthblown bagpipe is typical of those which appear in Europe during the Medieval period.

It is a loud and striking pipe, but it blends surprisingly well with the quieter Leicestershire Small pipe.

 

Click to hear  "The Triumph"
(Solo English Great Pipe in high D)

Click to hear "Black Jack"
(Duet English Great pipes in G and Low D)

Pete Stewart playing the English great pipe at Rosslyn chapel

The D chanter is conical and plays in the same octave as the D penny whistle, using half-closed fingering. Various semitones can be obtained using "forked" or cross-fingering. There is no thumb hole, the top D being obtained by venting the top finger hole only. The little finger hole at the bottom gives the C sharp leading note. Chanters can also be made with a C-natural leading note or a double hole similar to a recorder giving the option of C or C-sharp.

The D drone is impressive. It is nearly four feet long, in four sections with a large, flared bell. It is tuned to D three octaves below the bottom D of the chanter, a wondrous low note. It can be tuned up to sound an E or tuned down to C. If the chanter has a C-natural leading note there are possibilities of playing in C using the seventh finger hole as the key note.

From this original design in D I have developed a range of English Great Pipes in different keys. This has opened up exciting musical possibilities for pipes to be played in consort, as can be heard on The Goodacre Brothers CD "Bag Up Yer Troubles".

 

Chanters

Chanters are available in high D, C A, G and low D (an octave lower than the high D chanter).

High D
The original chanter described in detail above.
A
This is the chanter I use most frequently with the Goodacre Brothers. I think of this as a D chanter with three fingers on. Used like this with a low D drone it is suitable for playing in a trio with high and low D pipes. The fingering is half-closed and there is a thumb hole.
G
This is similar to the A chanter, but pitched a tone lower. My preferred drone arrangement is a bass G with a tenor D that can be tuned down to C when playing in C. This produces a versatile pipe that blends well with the hurdy-gurdy and is great for dance music.

Low D
This chanter is an octave lower than the high D. It uses an open or half-closed fingering and has a thumb hole. It plays most semitones and is suitable for players with a wider stretch of fingers. Various drone arrangements are possible: a single low D; a low and high D or a low D with a tenor tuneable to G or A.

english greatpipe carved in plum

English Great Pipe in G with G & D/C drones, plum wood

 

Bags

The bag has a swan-neck and is made from hand-sewn leather. Three sizes are available - pipes are normally fitted with the standard sized bag. If two drones are fitted a medium sized bag can be an advantage, and is essential with three drones. A much larger bag can be fitted for players with long arms and a taste for the dramatic.

Drones

The original design is very versatile; a single bagpipe with a low D drone can be fitted with a split stock and have interchangeable chanters in high and low D, C and A. The G chanter can also be used by removing a drone section and reeding it up to play in G.

With a single drone this is essentially a Medieval bagpipe. I make a Renaissance version by fitting a tenor drone in a common stock with the bass drone. This second drone is a frequent feature of many 16th Century bagpipe illustrations. My second drone would normally be D an octave higher, though a G/A drone is an option. The extra drone gives an enhanced, richer sound which is especially effective when playing the pipes solo.

A third drone can also be fitted to add to the harmonic colour. An extra drone or drones can be made and fitted to a set of pipes at a later date, usually of matched wood.

The bottom section of a drone can be triple bored which greatly reduces its overall length. The total length of a straight-bored low G drone is over 5 feet!


G/C English Great Pipe with bass drone in G and tenor in D or C. Plum, with boxwood mounts.

I can incorporate special features such as smaller bell ends, different styling, box or horn mounts . Matching pipes can be ordered in the same wood, leather and styling. The English Great Pipe can be bellows blown if required. Please contact me if you wish to discuss the various possibilities.

 

Green-man english great pipe

Jullian playing the green-man english great pipe

PRICE

 

MEDIEVAL MUSIC, SOLO BUSKING, ENGLISH DANCE MUSIC, ROCK AND ROLL! - THE ENGLISH GREAT PIPE IS AN EXCITING AND VERSATILE BAGPIPE.

 
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