Tuesday

Carillon Piping



I'm afraid I haven't done quite as much bagpiping this summer as I'd like. Certainly not as much as I did last summer. Various things just kept getting in my way. Remember that my band isn't a competitive band, we're a hobby band, so we play in a lot of parades and charity events and most of these are in the summer when the weather is better.

One neat thing my band did get to do was play a concert with a carillon. The World Carillon Federation defines a carillon as, "A musical instrument composed of tuned bronze bells which are played from a baton keyboard. Only those carillons having at least 23 bells be taken into consideration". And Wikipedia says it's the heaviest instrument because the bells can weigh several tons. So it's basically a huge set of bells in all shapes and sizes and it's very loud. The picture at the top of this post is NOT the carillon we played with, but it gives you a sense of what one looks like. There are all differents types and sizes of carillons.

The carillon player does various concerts and I guess he decided a bagpipe band would be a nice compliment to his carillon. The carillon we played with is at the top of a tall office building. We went up 14 flights on an elevator, up 2 flights of regular stairs, and than up about 2 flights of a spiral staircase. I'm afraid my poor drones suffered a few nicks in the tight quarters of the spiral staircase.

At the top we found ourselves standing on a narrow ledge with a fantastic view, but no worries, there were solid concrete waist high walls so even though we were high up, we felt secure.

We were going to be playing "Amazing Grace" and "Highland Cathedral" with the carillon. The carillon player picked the tunes and while we know AG, we didn't know HC. So, because we weren't playing in front of a very visible audience, we cheated and taped the music up to the walls.

It was not our greatest performance. We had to stand in single file and I was stuck in between two of the biggest guys in our band, so it was impossible to see our pipe major. We had 10 pipers and amazingly, when we were playing with the carillon, we drowned it out. So it was impossible to tell if we were playing with it...and more often than not, we weren't because the carillon plays a lot slower than a hyper charged up bagpipe band.

Afterwards, we went down and played a nice concert in a park at the base of the building. We could all see each other and we were sans carillon.

Pipe on!

2 comments:

Matt said...

That sounds like it was a lot of fun! I remember seeing something like a carillon on CNN about a month ago. A few guys had turned an abandoned Jail or mental asylum into a musical instrument... yes, the whole building. Hundreds of little 'hammers' that produced the sound by drumming on bars and metal rafters were all controlled electronically at a type of organ in the middle of the structure... it look really interesting, but I'm sure that it can get pretty creepy making all those noises in an old mad-house.

Dan DelMain said...

I am impressed when bagpipe bands reach across the music aisle and jam with other instruments. I wish we as pipers and drummers did more of it (I guess the drummers usually do). That's crazy to play with a bunch of bells. I never associated pipes with bells, I thought just guitars, fiddles, whistles and other Scottish related instruments. Nicely done.

 
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