What a different summer for all of us in piping, drumming and pipe bands! Thanks to the efforts of many, we were able to enjoy some online piping events, such as competitions, recitals, and even some PipingLive! events, where we got to hear some amazing piping from all involved.
The local SOUND ADVICE summer school and SFU's PHSD were both very successful and well attended, with positive reports from students and instructors about the learning achieved. I'll think we'll find in future that these events will continue to augment the face-to-face portion.
As we roll into autumn, there is lots of talk and concern about what can be done to get bands practicing. The science on aerosol distribution indoors means bagpipes are going to be a tough sell until the virus has a vaccine or is greatly weakened. At this time, there seems to be concern for events in the first half of 2021. Time will tell. In the meantime, the best thing is to play hard individually and work collectively to keep bands developing for when we can safely reconvene.
FRED MORRISON UILLEANN BAGPIPES AVAILABLE!
After a number of years developing the instrument, and then refining the reeds, tuning and mechanics, Fred Morrison and McCallum Bagpipes have available practice, half and full sets of uilleann pipes, and we at Reelpipes.com are proud to be able to offer these pipes to our customers. Fred's pipes are based on his Dave Williams set.
I have had a full set for a year now, and the pipes have been brilliant. I first started uilleann pipes in 1983, and although I have played off and on for years, I was fully energized when I started working on the half set of Fred's pipes. They worked and stayed in tune 100% out of the box, and apart from working to maintain moisture in the dry Saskatchewan winter, there have been no issues. The pipes are comfortable, easy to blow and beautiful to look at. A year ago I got regulators attached, and while this is still a personal learning curve for me, the mechanical function and tuning has been great, and the pipes are a daily joy.
Full details of the sets available and pricing is available on the website. There are sets readily available...no 3-5 year wait, and pricing is extremely competitive in the uilleann pipes market. The pipes are also scaleable: you can easily start with a practice set and later add more components. Get in touch if you'd like to discuss.
We always have some great whistles in stock, although the colours and styles vary. Right now we have an excellent new product from MK—the Low F Kerry Whistle. This is a little higher than the Low D, but also significantly easier to play, with a very comfortable spread and the same rich MK sound. The Kerry is the less-espensive model that has no tuning slide. It's a great, studio-quality instrument at an excellent price.
We also have the MK Kerry and Pro [tunable] models of the Low D whistle, and some stock of Chieftain. Check out the website for details.
During the past few months we've set up and delivered some stunning sets of pipes to happy customers, including a full silver set of Duncan MacRae bagpipes and also a full alloy set. These pipes are super easy to set up with reeds and they start sounding brilliant in minutes. We've also delivered excellent sets of McCallum and Hardie pipes to very happy sustomers. Let us know if you have something in mind, and we can discuss the options!
We're proud to offer a range of excellent bagpipes, including Peter Henderson, Duncan MacRae, McCallum, Strathmore AB1, R.G. Hardie, and we have a good used set of R.G. Lawries for sale, with all proceeds going to student scholarships at Sound Advice.
Callum Beaumont won the 2020 P-M Alasdair Gillies Challenge held during the online PipingLive! He has been playing the new R.G. Hardie "Infinity" solo chanter, and it's sounding great. Connor Sinclair has recently been added to the Hardie product development team, and he too is playing this chanter with significant solo successes last season.
The Gandy version of the McCallum chanter has also been excelllent. We've supplied quite a few of these to solo pipers, and they find them very comfortable, great spacing and solid sound. Of course both Bruce Gandy and Alex Gandy have been playing them with great success, and both have featured prominently in the online solo events this summer.
And there are more! We've also supplied the McCallum Ceól chanter in poly and blackwood, the G1 Blackwood chanter and the Peter Henderson Blackwood solo chanter to solo pipers in the region, and they are all reporting success.
R.G. HARDIE BAGPIPE BUYING GUIDE
We all got some projects completed during the lockdown, and Alastair Dunn, the General Manager of R.G. Hardie [and also a Gold Medallist and former P-Sgt. of Field Marshal Montgomery] was able to complete this EXCELLENT document providing information on purchasing bagpipes. This is full of information and great advice, and will be useful to anyone interested in purchasing a bagpipe. You can read it directly on our site.
With more time for learning and reading, we've had a bit of a run on piobaireachd books, and we have a great selection of materials for new and experienced players, including some unique volumes that are generally difficult to access in North America.
• Donald MacLeod's Complete Collection of Piobarieachd  - launched at PipingLive! last summer, this book brings together all Donald MacLeod's known tunes for the first time, in a handy A4 format.
• Capt. John A. MacLellan Collection - you will have heard some great recordings online of "The Edinburgh Piobaireachd" and other tunes from this 20th century master of piping. The collection comes with two CDs featuring top players performing the tunes on pipes.
• Joseph MacDonald "A Complete Theory.." - first published in 1803, this recent re-publication by the Piobaireachd Society includes a lot of great historical and contextual material about the music and the players.
• Donald MacDonald Collection, Volume 1 - Published in 1828 by the great Skye-born bagpipe maker and collector, this Piobaireachd Society reprint has the tunes beautifully reproduced in clear notation, along with extensive historical and notes for playing. This is a great book for exploring the style favoured by this 19th-century great.
• General Priciples of Piobaireachd: A Guide to Interpretation - The book includes background and information about the understanding and performing of piobaireachd, including accents, phrasing, tune structures, pacing, embellishments, and much more. As well, Andrew Wright gives concrete examples of how these concepts apply to some of the best-known tunes.
• The Piper's Meeting - This collection contains 45 piobaireachds from the famous Campbell Canntaireachd (1796), which was has been a major source of tunes since it was compiled, but many of the tunes have been inaccessible to modern pipers because the manuscript has not been widely available, and pipers are not as conversant with canntaireachd as they are with staff notation.
• The Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor - The Kilberry book contains 114 tunes, arranged by Archibald Campbell of Kilberry.This is an excellent starting point for many players. You will need a pencil and an experienced tutor to get the most out of this book.
• Sidelights to the Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor -They were first published by the Piobaireachd Society in 1984 and 1986 respectively, together with scores and notes relating to an additional ten tunes taken from the manuscript book and 'companion volume' compiled by Archibald Campbell in 1916, referred to in James Campbell's Editor's Preface.
• Piobaireachd Fingerwork - Jim McGillivray breaks the difficult technique of piobaireachd into bite-size morsels that are understandable and that come together into complete movements. There are 118 exercises and five complete piobaireachds to help you put the exercises into practice. All are recorded in mp3 files that are easily downloaded from a web location specified in the book.
• The History and Structure of Ceol Mor - First published in 1982, this handy reference offers histories of many tunes, as well as notes on phrase structure and note patterns that help make many tunes easier to memorize and understand.
Want to learn some new tunes this fall? We have some great collections available, including Kyle Warren's latest collection, Eat, Sleep, PIPE, Repeat. Kyle is a well-known composer and performer with FMM and also the Red Hot Chili Pipers, and his tunes are played by a number of top bands.
Terry Tully, Gordon Duncan, Bill Livingstone, Bruce Gandy, Bob Worrall, Michael Grey....and all the classic collections, such as Scots Guards, Donald MacLeod, Willie Ross.
The Tone Protector™ Reed Case offers unparalleled protection for your most important and valuable pipe chanter reeds. Storing your reeds at a constant and precisely-chosen humidity level is the single easiest and powerful thing you can do to instantly improve your bagpipe sound. That’s exactly what the Tone Protector does.
We also have replacement Boveda packs for your reed case and your Tone Protector!
• G1 Platinum - This reed is favoured by many bands in all grades for the quality and consistency they deliver, and they go well in a variety of chanters. Played by the SFU Pipe Band, among many others.
• Chesney - The majority of Grade 1 prizewinning bands play Chesney reeds [Inveraray, Field Marshal, SLOT...] and they do so because they really are good. In our experience, they may be a little harder to manage in dry/high climates, but deliver a broad, rich sound when managed well.
• Melvin - Adrian Melvin turned his years of top Grade 1 experience into making chanter and drone reeds, and his reeds are being played by ScottishPower Pipe Band. We've supplied these reeds at lower strengths to bands in the prairie region, and they are stable and easy to manage.
• MacPhee, Melvin, MacLellan and Sound Supreme - Donald MacPhee and Colin MacLellan both make excellent reeds suitable for solo, and you'll find that many of the world's top soloists are playing one or the other. Need a great piobaireachd high G? Look no further. We have also recently added reeds by Ontario reedmaker John Elliot, renowned for his mastery of sound, and Adrian Melvin is also making a superb solo reed that's worth your time and money.
• DRONE REEDS - Ezeedrone, Selbie, Henderson and Canning drone reeds ready to go! We have both models of Canning, the Blue and the Original, and you can ask for either the carbon bass or the inverted bass. Both are excellent. We also have CANE BASS REEDS by Chesney, G1 and Reelpipes.com, and full sets of cane by G1.
We've always had an interest in vintage and collectible items related to piping and pipe bands. We have old LPs, vintage instruments, books and other Scottish items that you'll find interesting for your basement pub, piping room, or as a gift for a friend or family member. These are typically "one off" items that we find and once they are gone...
• Scottish and clan prints
• Britain's soldiers figures
• vintage practice chanter, biscuit tins and tea towels
We have a large stock of bags in various sizes by James Begg (sheepskin, cowhide), Bannatyne (most sizes in stock) and Canmore, including the newer Canmore hybrid hide/synth which is a great bag, and the one used by Fred Morrison.
We carry drumsticks by Steven McWhirter, Jim Kilpatrick (KP2),Stephen Creighton, Tyler Fry and Jordan Bailie!
The legendary Alex Duthart's Collection (2 books) has not always been easy to get, but we're making it as easy as possible! These are books that every serious Highland snare drummer needs to own, study and play.
Like everything else, the work and publication dates for this book were affected by the pandemic and resulting lockdown. We're going to have news soon about revised publication dates for the book, and a new web address for pre-orders!
Do you have news you'd like to pass along? Want to ask about products or services? Just like talking about bands and bagpipes? : )