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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 16 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

For more information on the album click on the cover at left

Italy ~ Molise
2 conical bore chanters with double-blade reeds; 2 conical bore drones with double-blade reeds
(Piffero: conical bore, double-blade reed)

General Comments:

The Zampogna di Scapoli has become the most widespread of the various Italian Zampognas (of which there are four in this collection), due in large part to a vigorous and ongoing revival of the instrument . This Zampogna is very often accompanied by an oboe-type instrument, the Piffero. Zampognas in various forms are often seen in Italian artwork dating back for centuries, especially in scenes depicting the birth of Christ (though there is of course no evidence that this pipe was actually present at that event).

Of late there is a large (and growing) annual festival centered on this bagpipe in the town of Scapoli, where there is also published a wonderful quarterly bagpipe journal, Utriculus (for information about both of these, see the "resources" pages).

Musical Notes:

With four big double reeds powering it, the Zampogna di Scapoli has a bright and powerful sound very rich in overtones. As with all of the Zampognas, the two chanters provide opportunity for all sorts of musical twists and turns. The Piffero, with its wide bore and stout reed, is no slouch either. The combination of the two instruments can create what sounds like much more music than could be reasonably expected from a mere pair of musicians. Unfortunately, all this power can also generate cacophany if the instruments are not in near-perfect tune - as can be heard, painfully, on certain previous recordings.

The scales and key signatures given may be regarded as approximations; bagpipes may deviate from conventional standards in absolute and relative pitch.

Sean Folsom playing the Zampogna di Scapoli and Michael Hubert on Piffero. This photo was taken during one of the recording sessions for the album; just as seen, the two instruments were recorded together, not overdubbed. In part this was done to give the result a genuine quality that might otherwise have been lost, but also in experimenting it was found that headphones did not mesh well with the overtones generated by these powerful instruments.
An interesting detail are the screw-threads by which the bell of the largest chanter is connected to the body.

The structure on the right-hand piece, just to the right of the screw-threads, covers the chanter's single key - except for the part operated by the finger (see pipe no. 8 for a similar devce).
The four double reeds; this formidable array will give any piper pause, all having struggled with reeds of this sort but usually only with one per bagpipe.

Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2002, Oliver Seeler,

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