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Historic music revived by experts at University of Huddersfield

Bagpipe music from 1797: will it be a hit in 2016?

It may not knock Zayn Malik off the top of the charts.

But a musical project at the University of Huddersfield has seen a new release which musicians hope will be a 2016 hit.

The leading exponents of historic instruments – blown, plucked and bowed – set out to re-create the ancient musical culture of the Scottish Highlands. And they did it at the University campus.

The newly-released CD is called Spellweaving, featuring Barnaby Brown on pipes, Bill Taylor on lyres and harp, and Clare Salaman on fiddles and hurdy gurdy.

They have recreated bagpipe music from a Scottish manuscript of the 1790s, much of which is drawn from centuries-old traditions. The recording was made at the University, which was also the venue for the first of a series of lecture-demonstrations and concerts that the musicians will perform.

Ancient music revived - Dr Rupert till

The University is the academic home of Dr Rupert Till – Reader in Music – who is a key member of the European Music Archaeology Project (EMAP), funded by the EU. One of his roles is to co-ordinate a series of recordings that are issued on the widely-distributed Delphian label. Dr Till was at the studio controls when the Spellweaving trio came to Huddersfield to make their disc.

It consists of eight compositions selected from the 167 that are to be found in Colin Campbell’s Instrumental Book, which dates from 1797. They are not written down in conventional notation but in a unique system developed from the symbols that the master pipers of Scotland used to memorise and teach their music.

On the recording, some of the music is played on a recreation of an 18th century Highland bagpipe, but some is assigned to ancient forms of the harp, lyre and fiddle, plus a primitive form of flute fashioned from a vulture bone.

In a recital at the University, Bill Taylor demonstrated wire and gut strung harps and also two sizes of lyre, an ancient string instrument – widely played for countless centuries – that could be plucked or strummed and was also used as an accompaniment to the recital of poetry – including epics such as Beowulf.

Bil Taylor revives ancient music at the Unievrsity of Huddersfield

One of the lyres was a copy of an instrument discovered in the grave of a seventh century nobleman; another was based on an instrument found in the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo.

Barnaby Brown demonstrated not only the bagpipe but several double or triple reed pipes – based on ancient originals – that are inserted directly into the mouth and played using a technique known as circular breathing, enabling him to sustain the sound continuously.

Barnaby said: “The secret is to have the music inside you before you put it on an instrument.

“Singing it is how you get a piece into your brain and your body.”

Barnaby Brown revives historic Scottish music in Huddersfield



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