English Piping (A Musical Recommendation)

That’s Northumbrian small pipes playing… Quite tasty eh? No, it’s not Celtic music but rather from Northumbia, the northern most region of England. Yes, I know that it’s influenced by the Scottish smallpipe tradition but it’d uniquely its own music.

I know a album is very good when a musician who that plays that music finds it to their liking. Jack has high praise for Alisdair Fraser’s Dawn Dance album which I wrote a review of, and likewise I find Blowzabella’s latest album, Dance, a truly supb album of pipers and others having a great deal of fun.

So it was some five years back, Kathryn Tickell’s Strange but True recording got a loving look from Paul Brandon, an Australan Celtic musician: ‘Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell has long been one of my favourite musicians. I can’t exactly put my finger on why; whether it’s the sublime playing, the always eclectic choice of songs and tunes, or even something as frivolous as knowing she was the inspiration for the lead character in one of my most-loved books, The Little Country by Charles de Lint. A lot of it has a great deal to do with the wonderful instrument she plays, the Northumbrian smallpipes, which are neither as harsh as the Scottish bagpipes nor as low and mournful as the Uilleann pipes. Like their Irish cousins, they’re bellows blown, and unlike their Scottish kin more regarded as an indoor parlour instrument. They have a wonderfully mellow, staccato bee-buzz tone unlike many other pipes. Tickell is also a very nice fiddler, and as most people here at will tell you, I have a soft spot for the devil’s own instrument.’

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