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.


Full text available at http://www.archive.org/details/alettertodukeno00doubgoog

Choose your favoured format in the "View the Book" box on the left.

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
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