Link to Living Tradition Homepage





White House Musics WHCD02

As the Great Highland Bagpipe strives for global domination it is easy to forget that it is only a particular variety of bagpipe, and that there are countless other variations throughout the world. For a stack of reasons (many of them associated with the military) the Highland Bagpipe has become ubiquitous and in many cultures have superseded the traditional bagpipe of that culture. Despite this, and in some cases because of it, pockets of resistance have grown as people try to rediscover the piping tradition of their culture. One country which seems to have lost many of its piping roots is England, which with the exception of the Northumbrian tradition, (itself perhaps partly to blame), has very little indigenous piping left.

One group of people trying to redress this balance are the Goodacre Brothers. John, Pete and Julian play a variety of pipes such as the Leicestershire Small Pipe, English Great Pipes in high D, A and G, Cornish Double Pipe and Border Horn. The pipes are made by Julian and are based on the trio's research into ancient manuscripts. The brothers use this array of bagpipes to good effect on the CD, by using pipes in a different key to provide harmonies to the main melody. The best example of this is the track "The Bonny Braes of Elcho" which has Julian playing the melody on a low G Leicestershire Small Pipe while John and Pete join in on small pipes in C and English Great pipes in G respectively. Not all the tracks are group, John and Pete get to play solos on the Leicestershire small pipe and English Great pipe. "The Bonny Braes of Elcho" is a recently composed tune, as is around half the material on the CD, the rest being derived from old sources, indeed the CD ends with John's arrangement of a sixteenth century tune.

Those brought up on a diet of the Highland Bagpipe might find some of the scales used here a little alien but that is the whole point, and on closer listening it is the similarities across the traditions that jump out rather than the differences. This CD boasts some fine tunes, particularly "How the Camel got his Hump" and the "The Bonny Braes of Elcho" and some clever and interesting arrangements. English piping can hold its head up high and those looking for something that little bit different should seek this out.

Chris MacKenzie

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.