Hooky Mat Records
heading left A small independent label specialising in making
finely crafted recordings of musicians and
singers from the North East of England.

A Beginner's Guide to the Northumbrian Smallpipes

After 40 years of pipes tuition to groups and individuals, Anthony has produced a teaching package for beginners. Ably assisted by pipes graduate Paul Knox it is based on teaching notes prepared when he was asked to teach the pipes to 6 Iranian musicians in November 2004 and yes, there is a Farsi version of the original notes out there somewhere!

The A4 booklet is designed to support the oral teaching approach presented on the accompanying CDs 1, 2 and 3.

CD 1 – Getting Started deals with basics including putting on the pipes, fingering the chanter, controlling the bellows, the fingered scale and G arpeggio and two simple tunes, Three Blind Mice and Hexham Races. It is played on ‘standard F' pipes.

CD 2 – The Tunes has 10 tunes (adapted where necessary) for the keyless chanter played normally then slowly to enable students to join in. Tracks 1-19 are played in standard F pipes pitch.

1) Hexham Races
2&3) The Rowan Tree
4&5) Whittingham Green Lane
6&7) Flett From Flotta
8&9) Scott Skinner's Cradle Song
10&11) Michael Turner's Waltz,
12&13) Mallorca
14&15) Leaving Lismore
16&17) The Pipemaker's Hornpipe
18&19) Blowzabella.
Tracks 20-38 are played in G concert ‘school pipes' pitch.

CD 3 - Drones & Keys covers tuning drones to G major, D major and A minor and the use of keys with examples of tunes using a 7 key chanter and those 3 key signatures.

CDs G1 and G2 contain the relevant parts of the main CDs adapted for the G concert pitch 'school pipes' and can be substituted for the above on request.

* Special offer - people who buy this guide can choose one of the following albums (at no extra cost) to develop their playing:

Please state preference when ordering the Guide. For information on these albums click here.

"Paul and Anthony's tutor book is a helpful beginner's guide to learning the smallpipes. It introduces the very first steps of learning in simple, structured ways, building the steps clearly and accessibly with visual pictures and helpful reminders. I particularly like the introduction of the arpeggio (low)GBD (high)G as an introductory pattern of notes. The young pupils who I have taught on the schools pipes project found this a helpful step towards building an early tune, both in their fingering and what they could hear in the pattern of notes. The tutor book emphasises “letting the sound get into your fingers as well as your head”. The addition of a CD with tracks, backing the learning steps as well as illustrating the tunes featured in the book, supports this process of learning and hearing, enabling students to feel their way in to the sound of the pipes in both head and fingers. The second CD accompanying the book has ten tunes for the keyless chanter played normally, and at a slower speed, to enable students to follow and join in. It is helpful and supportive for beginners to have something to reread and listen to, and play along to, especially when starting off on your own, and to feel that the pipes are a manageable octopus! The material is presented thoughtfully and in an encouraging, friendly way. It is a bit like having Paul and Anthony in the room talking you through it."
Gwennie Fraser

A Look at The First 30

This album looks at the 30 tunes published by the Northumbrian Pipers' Society in 'The First 30' tune book which was the brainchild of Edmund and Rupert Boulting. All 30 tunes are played slowly straight through 'as written' followed by a more detailed look at marches and rants.

The Northumbrian tradition is unique in its rant rhythm which is subtly different to the rest of Britain. It is more economical, for example, than the Dorset or Lancashire versions and this is reflected in the music. Marches are much more relaxed in feel but still retain a pulsing polka type of lilt which has little in common with the more common '4 square' military examples. In order to illustrate these differences in these two tune types the renowned fiddler Stewart Hardy studied examples from the playing of the established leading traditional players and programmed rhythm guides which keep the tempo steady and provide a insight into the 'grooves' required to get the feel of the tunes. The 10 examples are played with and without the guides and the guides themselves are presented in 4 minute blocks for individual practice.

Will Atkinson's famous advice that the most important thing with this music is to get the tempo and beat right. Both he and Willie Taylor picked up their musical style from players who were links in the aural chain going back at least 200 years. With pipers such as Mary Anderson, The Halls of Hedgeley, James Byrnes, Doad
Taylor, Bill Drummond and Gordon Drummond aided and abetted by fiddlers such as Geordie Armstrong, Archie Bertram and Willy Miller along with box players like Tommy Marshall (Nancy Taylor's grandfather), Tommy Edmondson et al. It is hoped some of this tradition is evident here. In short this CD aims to help the beginner get to grips with the bare bones of each tune and then offer guidance in phrasing with possible embellishments and decorations for players as they progress 'beyond the dots'.

Review of the First 30 CD by Markus Gäbel
Hello Anthony,
I bought the Windy Gyle "Force 6" from Paul Knox at the NSP course at Blankenheim/ Germany and I like it a lot.
I also got "A look at the first 30" from Paul and this CD is very helpful for me to practise smallpipes . To tell the truth, I only bought it because it is NSP music (hard to get in Germany) and I thought I will listen it only once and than "forget it", but I have now practised 4-5 times with this CD and it is very helpful for me, more than I expected.
It helps me:
1) to slow my too fast playing
2) it is good practise for intonation playing against another pipe (I have no other NSP player to play with) 3)Most of the tunes I already knew and play them by heart, but playing tunes by heart often changes the tunes, I play my own version, not bad at all, but I recognised that I changed too much, especially the rhythm of some tunes.
Your comment to the rhythm of Nortumbrian music is VERY useful. I was totally wrong with the rhythm of a rant, I always thought it is a slower reel.
At first I was a little confused because of the "techno-pop"sound of the rhythm guide, but it works great and it is more fun to play with the rhythm guide than with a metronome.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen / with compliments
Markus Gäbel

© 2017 Email Anthony Robb