Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 48, Page 12

Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 48, Page 12
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
Píobaire, An
volume Number
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12~ Review of Bagpipes ~A response by Hugh CheapeThe extended review in An Píobaire Vol.4 No. 47 of the recently-publishedBagpipes. A National Collection of aNational Instrument, was generous and schol-arly. The commentary and attention to detailcall for a reply, in the interests of mutualunderstanding and of cordial and fraternalrelations.The initial response to the book when pub-lished, as your reviewer has described, wasdisappointing in light of its serious intent and,on a personal level, of the amount of thoughtand effort that it had absorbed. There wasindeed a number of rather banal newspaperarticles which narrowed the focus of a rela-tively wide-ranging work to the singlenuanced conclusion about how the GreatHighland Bagpipe might have evolvedaround about 1800. There were also four orfive radio interviews and a television inter-view for the BBC Gaelic Service. The worstradio interview was with ‘Radio 5 Live’,involving a barrage of silly questions tendingto ridicule Scotland’s love-affair with pipingand the wretched interviewee being cut offwhen his 45 seconds time-slot was spent. Thebest interviews were with Belfast and Derry,outstanding for their courteous and intelligentquestioning and the time made for commentand discussion. There was a more recentinterview with ABC in Australia, similarlymarked for its intelligence and courtesy.Your reviewer’s health-warning on the book’seffect on Irish blood-pressure concerns me asauthor in that I wish ill of no man, but believeat the same time that Irish constitutions aretoo powerful to be hurt by any possible slight.For all the book’s faults in its treatment ofIrish culture (as generally perceived), I wouldstand by a brief summary (page 105) and theintegrity of material evidence:Modern perception of the Union Pipe hasdefined and described it in terms of Ireland’sculture and the Uilleann bagpipe of today. Bycontrast the instrument’s surviving ‘materialculture’ suggests that the Union Pipe has beena shared and Neo-Baroque tradition and thatan integrity has been ignored or laid aside insustaining modern perceptions. The mindsetof today may still regard the North Channel asan edge or a boundary, rather than a ‘highway’with the same community living on both sidesof it, and such a view makes the recognition ofshared cultural traits more difficult. TheUnion Pipe has crossed and re-crossed the Seaof Moyle – Sruth na Maoile – and its points ofdeparture and coming to land are still difficultto define with certainty. Bagpipes has been published by the NationalMuseums Scotland, and I am most grateful toyour reviewer for his comments on its quali-ty. A work of this length and complexityrequires compression to bring it within thereach of pipers and the public. This workcompares significantly with the notoriouslyhigh price of recent bagpipe books of majorimportance which are far out of monetaryreach of the player community and, in myexperience, are lost to sight – even their titlesbeing unknown to folk who take an interest inour musical culture. In order therefore to keep
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Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 48

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