Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Project

On the ottoman in front of The Comfy Chair here in the office where The Inn is sent forth into the world, you can see the current Project. Those are my Border pipes, also called Lowland pipes or Northumbrian half-long pipes. You can get into a fierce academic free-for-all should you happen to use the wrong term to the wrong person. So be forewarned. But I'm happy with "Border pipes". And I'm more and more happy with these Border pipes. The Project is coming along swimmingly.

Unlike the Highland pipes and the Irish warpipe, the border pipes are cauld wind pipes, i.e., they're not sounded with the moist, warm breath from the mouth but the cold wind of the bellows. These pipes I have had for exactly 15 years. I bought them with the best of intentions but never really mastered them. I was in a competition pipe band in those days and there wasn't really time to devote to them. They languished in the closet.

As I am now pipebandless, I took them out last month and have been restoring them. Languishing in the closet is usually not good for bagpipes of any flavour. So I have now tied on a new bag, installed a new valve on the bag side of the intake tube, worked with the cane drone reeds and got at least two of them working fairly consistently, ordered synthetic drone reeds, and ordered a new bellows. Two major hurdles remain: (1) reeding the chanter and (2) learning/relearning the bellows technique. (Use of the word "relearning", my dear wife reminds me, is something of an exercize in fantasy as I never got very good at it. Hmmm. I suppose. She after all, had to listen to it.)

When the new bellows comes, I expect the learning curve to tend upward at a considerably more precipitous angle. And another bellowspiper in O.C. has offered to check out my chanter reed issues.

Yes, things are definitely looking up. Who was it said that messing about in boats was the most fun you could have? Was it Ratty in "Wind in the Willows"? If I were good at aphorisms I would come up with something similar for pottering about with bagpipes.