Just when you thought it was all over, it seems it depends upon your point of view, and this may depend on your position in the history.
Below an extract from Mr. Thomas Doubleday's letter to the Duke of Northumberland. date a bit difficult due to Google's OCR not coping with Roman dates, but mid-late C19. (1857 apparently) The Northumberland small-pipe is fitted up upon the plan of construction common to all bagpipes that is to say, it consists of a pipe with stops, by means of which the melody is played, and of three longer pipes sounding different musical intervals in such a way as to produce a rude and imperfect accompaniment to the melody. The bag is inflated by means of a small bellows, as the bag of the Irish or union-pipe is inflated. The great peculiarity of the Northumbrian instrument is its comparatively small size and the peculiar mode of fingering or stopping. In the case of other instruments of this kind, that mode of fingering which, in common parlance, is styled " open fingering " is the mode used. When this mode of stopping is used, more than one finger is lifted at a time, and by a sudden pressure upon the bag, the " chanter," as this pipe is called, is made to sound an octave higher, and thus the range of the instrument is extended. Of this extension of range the Northumb! rian pipe does not admit. It is played upon by means of the method called " close fingering" for which it is calculated. This method of stopping allows only of one finger being lifted at a time ; and does not admit of the upper octave being forced by "pinching" or pressure upon the bag. Thus, this instrument is limited to a single octave; and this (little as it is) admits of all the airs, to which it is really suited, being executed by it's means ; with the additional improvement that it may be played perfectly in tune, whilst the tones it produces being all staccato and of a clear, ringing, pearly, and brilliant character, give the instrument a power which it's appearance by no means promises, and which is really suipr^ when L diminutive size of its chanter or melody-pipe is considered. In truth, whilst every other description of bag-pipe is defective, wanting in distinctness, and more or less out of tune in the upper octave, the Northumbrian pipe, when played by a master, executes the airs for which it has been intended to perfection, and with a precision even in the most rapid movements very pleasing as well as surprising. Its defect is the narrow limit within which its merits are confined. It is true that, within the last half century, by means of keys, the range of the instrument has been extended; but to me it is exceedingly doubtful whether this added compass has operated felicitously either upon the instrument or the performer. The peculiar genius of the instrument, which is brilliant and rapid staccato playing, is unfitted for airs of which tenderness and delicacy of expression are the principal attributes. In spite of this, however, that love of novelty which besets the majority of musicians and listeners to music, lures the former to attempt upon this instrument movements utterly unsuited to it. Waltzes in slow time, adagios, and sentimental airs, are thus frequently attempted to be played upon an instrument with the peculiarities of which they are at discord ; and the want of taste of the musician is thus too often made the vilification of that which he has merely misused. To essay to! convey by means of a bagpipe of any description, much more by that of the Northumbrian small pipe, the delicacy of expression which a fine player can produce from the violin, the German flute, the hautboy, or even the clarionet, is a monstrosity in music merely; but to this the additional keys of the instrument have too often led. Discuss! Full text available at http://www.archive.org/details/alettertodukeno00doubgoog Choose your favoured format in the "View the Book" box on the left. Tim On 16 Dec 2010, at 13:53, Richard York wrote: > > The only fitting response to this seems to me to picture the Charlie Brown > cartoons - the image of Charlie with a sort of horizontal but wiggly line for > his mouth - know the one I mean? > > Richard. > > > On 15/12/2010 12:09, Francis Wood wrote: >> On 15 Dec 2010, at 12:05, Gibbons, John wrote: >> >>> But Rob illustrates a simple feather duster - the 17 keyed ones are >>> musically far more versatile... >> Is that a Peacock feather duster? >> >> Francis >> >> >> >> To get on or off this list see list information at >> http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute-admin/index.html >> > > --