Sunday, 3 February 2013

Making music from bamboo

The Pipers' Guild Quartet

Dorothy Barnard, treble; Gertrude Enoch, alto; 
Kay Connel, tenor; Annie Z. Miller, bass

Columbia DB 1833-1834
(CA17174-1, CA17175-3, CA17176-3, CA17177-1)
Take 1 recorded Wednesday 2nd November 1938 & 
Take 3 recorded Wednesday 30th November 1938 

4 Flac files and a pdf in a RAR File, Here at Mediafire. [about 40Mb]

The four sides have in all 13 short tracks. I have tried to pinpoint exactly where the tunes are from although I  have not had access to the  music, anyway they are all jolly tunes and they run together very nicely.

Track 1 - DB 1833, Side 1
Purcell, Henry: ‘Suite’ arranged for 4 pipes by Margery Olsson (1938)
a) The Old Batchelor, Z. 607 : Movt. 2, Hornpipe in E minor.
b) The Virtuous Wife, Z. 611 : Movt. 8, Minuet.
c) The Prophetess, or The History of Dioclesian, Z. 627 “Dioclesian” : Third Entry
Movt. 34, ‘Canaries.’
d) The Indian Queen, Z . 630 :  Second Music - Second Aire Hornpipe.

Track 2 - DB 1833, Side 2
a) Creme de Minthy, Irish Jig – from Quartets for Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass Pipes. Selected and arranged by L. A. Margerison.
b) Salterelle – from Huit danses héerlandaises du 16e. siècle, arrangées pour quatuor de pipeaux ar.r Antonio M. Taufstein  (1938).
c) Nicolas Furlong’s jig – from Quartets for Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass Pipes. Selected and arranged by L. A. Margerison.

Track 3 - DB 1834, Side 1
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book etc arr. by Edgar H Hunt.
a) Byrd, William : La volta in g minor, No.1, Lady Morley (MB 90).
b) Rosseter, Phillip : Ayre ‘And would you see my Mistress' face.’
c) Farnaby, Giles : Tower Hill.

Track 4 - DB 1834, Side 2
a) O you’re pretty,  English Jig – from  Quartets for Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass Pipes. Selected and arranged by L. A. Margerison.
b) Butter’d Please,  English folksong  – from  Quartets for Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass Pipes. Selected and arranged by L. A. Margerison.
c) Nancy wants her own share  – from Pipers of Eireann. Fifteen Irish Tunes for Pipes. Arranged by Annie Z. Miller.

Below is an extract from the website of the still active Pipers' Guild, this gives a succinct description of what these recordings are about :

The Guild was founded in Britain in 1932. Its main aim is the threefold craft of making, playing and decorating bamboo pipes. Pipes are made for personal use, and are not sold - i.e. if you want to play one, you'll have to make one! The idea of making bamboo pipes has spread around the world, with groups and guilds in Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, the U.S.A., and Japan. All of the guilds are members of a federation, which meets every five years at an international course.What are 

Bamboo Pipes? The bamboo pipe is a simple hand-made wind instrument, similar to a recorder but with a gentler tone. While looking for a recorder-type instrument to use with her schoolchildren, Margaret James stumbled across a Sicilian shepherd's pipe. After many experiments the simple treble pipe in D was perfected. Later a full quartet of pipes of alto in A & G, tenor in D and bass in G was developed. This range has since been extended to include sopranino in G, quartbass in D, and great bass in G. In addition, treble, alto, and tenor extended pipes with a range of an octave and a sixth or more are also made.

Why Bother? Firstly, for the satisfaction: there is a special thrill in playing an instrument you have made yourself. Secondly, it makes you a craftsman as well as a musician. Thirdly, it is an ideal way of learning the rudiments of music. Pipes are made and tuned one note at a time; the complete beginner (of any age) learns to play their pipe as they make it. For more advanced players there is the pleasure of ensemble playing in trios, quartets and larger groups.

I believe the recordings included Dorothy Barnard, treble; Gertrude Enoch, alto; Kay Connel, tenor; Annie Miller, bass for it is recorded that these instrumentalist gave first performance of Vaughan William Suite for Pipes (1939) given at the Chichester, Pipers' Guild Summer School, August 1939. I don't think that the make-up of the group would have changed much if at all in the intervening period. 

I have included with the recording a pdf of a talk given by Margaret James, the founder of the guild, which she gave to the Royal Music Association in 1946 under the title Development of the Traditional Hand-Made Pipes. An Account of The Pipers' Guild, with illustrations by a Quartet. This makes fascinating reading - well to me it does - on how the instruments are made etc.

The Gramophone placed the record under 'Educational' for review purposes in the February 1939 issue. The records were withdrawn in 1942 but reappeared again under DB 2281-82 in 1947 but with different takes for two of the sides -  dubbings from damaged shells? I suppose these records were intended to be played to attentive school boys and girls, how many got sold to general record buyers is open to question. 


  1. I was wondering if Mediafire would tell me these items were copyrighted and refer me to a contemporary recording by Sir Simon Rattle and his Pipers Three, but no - they are still online! Thanks so much, as always.

  2. Ta Buster

    I was thinking to pack all my files in RAR and rename them with innocuous names like '2013 Feb (1)' - that should avoid the problem of mis-identification although it would be a complete pain in the neck for I would then have to keep notes on what the files contained!


  3. Jols - I hav reverted to using Rapidshare. It is currently working well, assuming you have a paid account.

    1. The fatefull day of my demise must be close at hand, I can't think I have anything that anyone could quibble with but will move to Rapidshare before zapped - my account runs out at Mediafire at the begining of March in anycase.


  4. By the way, these recordings are delightful!

  5. I'm glad you were taken with them too - just such good music making


  6. Thanks so much Jolyon! When I was a lad in primary school (and not yet grumpy), we made our own bamboo pipes in class, with wool pouches which we embroidered ourselves. I still have mine somewhere - or have the moths eaten the pouch?... For some reason, these discs were reissued on DB 2281 and 2282; I have 2281, with matrices CA 17174-3 and 17175-4! All the best, G

  7. Thanks Nick

    I can't decide if the later takes were cut at a later date - assuming that 17174-1 & -2 and 17175-1 & 2 had been made on the 2nd Nov and 17174-3 on the 30th Nov when were your your takes cut? Surely not in 1938


  8. I'm so sorry, Jols, I didn't see your follow-up comment! I'll try to get to the bottom of this next time I'm at the BL. I was hoping to go today but various things are keeping me at home... All the best, N

  9. nice :D bamboo have a great tone :D

  10. The Pipers' Guild is certainly still active !

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