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Carving at Marwood
Since there are no bagpipes from the medieval or Tudor times known to have survived, all the bagpipes reconstructed to look the part have to be based on pictures, carvings, descriptions, or a mixture of all three.
Carvings in old churches are very interesting, and can be very useful. At this very moment there is much discussion going on in part of the bagpiping world about how much we can rely on some of these carvings - did the carver make it up? Had he really seen what he carved? If so, where? ... and where did he (normally he, not she) come from? - perhaps they had pipes like that where he came from, and perhaps it wasn't in England at all, or perhaps he had been abroad to study his craft, or perhaps he copied it from someone else, in which case did he remember all the details right? ... and so on.
|At 23 churches round Britain, there are carvings of bagpipers with two chanters. In case you have forgotten, the chanter is the bit where you play the tune, and most pipes have only one. (See below)
|Dr. James Merryweather of The York Waits found this carving just over two years ago. Even the Vicar and congregation of the church hadn't spotted it.
|BUT these 23 show two chanters, one for each hand. The picture on the left shows the carving at Marwood, in North Devon. Click on it to see a bigger copy, which will take longer to download, but you'll also see more detail, and a cut-out version. The pictures above show Julian Goodacre's version of bringing this carving of bagpipes to life.
Clicking on either the carving or the pictures of the modern set will give you larger images of this new version, too.
It may take quite a while before everything arrives on your screen. Hum any medieval bagpipe tune you happen to know while you're waiting.
Clicking on this picture gets you a bigger version.
It's about 700 years old, and is in a window at Shibden Hall, Halifax. Is it a beast playing a shawm, while someone out of the picture plays another? Is it a beast blowing a shawm with his ear?
OR is the whole beast part of a picture in which he was turned into a bagpipe? Look carefully at the shawm/chanter coming from his mouth. It grows out of his lower lip. And what's that thing growing out his right shoulder - a drone?
I don't know the answers.
|Here's an image we recently found on an old copy of piano music for Weinberger's "Schwanda the Bagpiper." It's not in the least an English church carving, and the artist, signed only "W 1928" - Weinberger himself?? - has had fun drawing not only the devils dancing to the pipes, but also seems to have enjoyed making the bag and the piper's backside get slightly confused with each other, but it's too good to waste!
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