Tag Archives: piping

Arrival

We waited and waited, and now, just like that, the waiting is over and the work begins.

Frankly I don’t really know what I am doing.  I don’t know how to tune these reeds, or to make them sing their buzzy, intoxicating song together in unison.  It all sounds a bit like a spot of goose bothering just now.  I must remember that this is how it is.  And likely how it will be for a while still.  I have had the set out for a little while each day, even as “regular life” has been quite intervening and busy, more so than normal in these pandemical times.

This instrument is pushing all of my emotional hot-buttons.  The “I don’t deserve” and the “I’m not smart enough”.  The “aren’t I too old?” and the “who the hell do you think you are” hot buttons which run deep and strong and rear their ugly heads when insecurity beckons.  That said, I have done a TON of work over the years on these buttons.  Now they serve as reminders of growth.  I feel all of these things which make me feel small, and I order the pipes anyway.  I take the plunge in spite of the insecurities.  I allow myself this luxury even if they aren’t here to impress anyone or make any money.  I don’t even have to show them to anyone really.  Unless I want to.  I allow myself this luxury because the sound of uilleann pipes makes my heart happy.  And because I love Irish music.  There needn’t be any other reasons than those really.

As an object d’art, they are a stunning thing of beauty and perhaps I will draw them some, outside of the John Joe Badger series, just to draw the form of them.  We shall see.  For now, I will just play them a bit each day, call my teacher crying, begging for a zoom call to see what needs adjusting.  Perhaps one day they might even sound musical.  For now though…..

 

 

The mysterious ‘backstitch’

::: TWIST OF HEMP :::  Week 41

There are many mysteries in this thing we call piping.  John Joe Badger has heard whispers of a mysterious thing some call ‘The Backstitch’, and he is intrigued.  On occasion he thinks he can hear it, in the playing of one further along the piping path, but he does not yet know what it really IS.

Perhaps one day he will figure it out.

For now he will leave backstitching efforts to the mending basket, and merely play the little tunes he knows as best he can.

It’s a journey.

Is that a bagpipe? t.o.h. week 14

There are many varieties of the notion of “bagpipe” to be found in many cultures across the globe.  The Uillean pipes are just one.  But since we gather the air into the bag which activates the reed in our chanter with a bellows, versus blowing up the bag of air with our own lungs, we often get curious questions from onlookers….

Yes, they are truly and actually a proper set of bagpipes.  Yes, we play “real” bagpipes.  And we use a bellows, pumped by our elbow (Irish for elbow is uillean) to blow them up.  Hopefully this clears things up for poor John Joe Badger and his piping friends who manage to field all kinds of questions while out in the world playing.

Thanks to my flute teacher (who also plays Gallician pipes) John, and my pipes teacher Cathy for the inspiration for this week’s illustration.  Each of them have heard it all over the years!

Here are some examples of “other” piping traditions….

And of course, back home to Ireland….