Tag Archives: bagpipe

Interview with Innovative Galician Piper Susana Seivane

Susana Seivane is an acclaimed Spanish bagpiper, part of a well-known family of Galician bagpipe makers. She’s a groundbreaking artist, who represents a generation of artists that defied norms and renovated Galician folk music. Her musical style is deeply influenced by the Galician “inland” bagpipe style.

Susana has a new album titled Fa and she discussed her musical career and the album with World Music Central in October 2018.

Susana Seivane, earlier in her career

How and when did you start working professionally in the music field?

I started playing the bagpipe at three, but in 2019 I’ll celebrate my 20 years as a professional.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your music?

It is a fusion of our most representative instrument, the bagpipes, with other instruments that do not have to be traditional, such as drums or electric bass, adding modernity along with winks to other styles of music that I like, for example rock or funk.

How has your style evolved over the years?

My bagpipe playing style has been gaining technique but the essence is the same, that essence that we call “enxebre”, the one that remembers the old bagpipers that I liked from which I took bits and pieces in terms of playing [technique]. What has been changing is the instrumental accompaniment and the arrangements, adding new colors with instruments that provide much more energy, modernity and freshness to my music.

What does the title of your new album Fa mean?

It’s not because of the musical note or the deodorant brand as someone jokingly asked me 😉 These are the initials of my children: Fiz and Antón.

Susana Seivane – Fa

Tell us a little about Fa.

Fa is a bag of feelings, good, bad, regular, is a bag of emotionalized music since I found out that I was pregnant with Fiz, until Anton’s first years. It’s a record dedicated to motherhood, to everything that means, and a disc dedicated to these two little creatures of mine that make me crazy with love and crazy with nerves too 🙂

Your last record before Fa came out 8 years ago. Why did you take so long to record again?

It has been a recording silence. During this time I have collaborated on other albums like Kepa Junkera’s. Fortunately, I never stopped working. We have toured every year except for the one when Anton was born in August. That summer we could not do it, that winter I had my pretty big belly! I have had two pregnancies, two deliveries, the corresponding times of maternity leave I never completed because I immediately started to perform concerts as soon as I had recovered because we already had signed contracts. So, in terms of taking a break, I never stopped, I never did, I had a lot of work 🙂

Your family, the Seivanes, is well known as bagpipe craftsmen. Apart from playing the bagpipes, do you make them too?

You can’t imagine how labor intensive it is to handcraft a bagpipe. I would know how to make certain parts of the bagpipes but not the whole one. There was a time before recording my first album when I did work in the family workshop (obradoiro) but when the album started, the tours, etc., I left it to dedicate myself to my passion since I was a child, playing the bagpipes and now I am lucky that it has become my profession. But being in the workshop was a super nice and enriching experience to learn more about my instrument.

Where can Seivane bagpipes be purchased?

Currently Seivane makes bagpipes for the whole world. Many people like to come to the obradoiro itself because they like the family atmosphere and friendly treatment that you find there. But you can also purchase and configure your bagpipe as you please on the website, seivane.es/es/tienda/config_gaita_0.html?

Has there been any evolution of the Galician bagpipe since your grandfather’s time?

A lot! Previously, the bagpipes were much more rustic and the bagpipers themselves had to come up with ways to use the “rare” fingers so that they tuned some notes when they played with other instruments like the clarinet for example. Nowadays, after many years of study and dedication, the bagpipe is at a point where its tuning allows instrumentalists to play with any instrument.

Susana Seivane

What bagpipes did you use before and which ones do you use now?

Bagpipes have been made for me as I have grown. When I started, on my fourth birthday, my uncle, my father and my grandfather gave me a bagpipe built by them, perfectly tuned but with very small dimensions so that I could play it because I could not play with a standard one, even though I already knew how to play. That bagpipe is at the top of our obradoiro where there is an exhibition of the most special bagpipes that have been made, and there she is, like a golden piece, with a blow stick (where we blow) that has dimensions of a pacifier 🙂

Who are the manufacturers of your bagpipes?

If I do not want to be disowned, it’s my family! My father, my uncle, my sister, my cousin … everyone who works in the family obradoiro.

Do you play bagpipes from other cultures, besides Galician ones?

I do not.

Have you ever used the electronic bagpipe and what do you think of it?

I think the term electronic bagpipe does not exist. A wind trigger would be more correct. The “bagpipe” is the bagpipe. That invention we can call “wind sounds trigger”; seems to me very good to compose, rehearse, etc., but I would never play it live, for example. I like the bagpipes as they are, it’s our tradition and culture and I love how it sounds. I’ve seen people cry with emotion when they hear it, people who do not have Galician ancestors or anything. The sound of our bagpipes is something magical and that stirs many emotions inside.

You are part of a pioneer generation of women bagpipers. Are you helping to train the new generations?

To the extent that I can, I go to many schools to be with the children, to teach them how the bagpipe works, I let them blow it, touch it, teach them traditional songs and sing them together. I think it’s something important to continue transmitting our culture as our elders did with us. And to bring our instrument and our culture to the youngest ones seems to me something so important that I even think it should be a compulsory subject in our schools.

Susana Seivane

What new generation pipers deserve the attention of lovers of Galician music or Celtic music in general?

I really like David Bellas, Pedro Lamas, Dani Bellon, Magoia Bodega; it is sublime to listen to them. Surely you do not know them, but not always the most famous are the best.

If you could gather the musicians or groups that fascinate you the most to record an album or collaborate live, who would you call?

My musical godfathers, Milladoiro; Rodrigo Romani, my guardian angel, co-founder of Milladoiro and producer of my first albums; Shooglenifty with whom I have also had the luck to collaborate in concerts and on the Scottish BBC; Dulce Pontes with which I also play; Kepa Junkera, SonDeSeu, Treixadura, Noitarega, whoa … many admired by me.

What music are you currently listening to?

In the car, I have my latest album. I am very satisfied with how it came out and I listen to it a lot. Then, at home, the truth is that I listen to about everything. I’m quite eclectic in terms of musical tastes, I like jazz, funk, rock, classical music, etc.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Playing paddle tennis, I’m in a team where I play in the Galician league and the national series. I was hooked from the beginning. I also like bowling, I was also asked to join a team but I do not have any more time! I have been away from paddle for a while because I have knee injuries but I’ll be back!

What other projects do you have in hand?

We are preparing a very special concert for our 20th anniversary next year. An extraordinary concert that will give a lot to talk about and that we will record live with many collaborations from friends of all these 20 years.

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Artist Profiles: Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane

Davy Spillane, of County Clare, Ireland, plays the uilleann pipes, an unusual Celtic bagpipe whose bellows are held under the arms and inflated by wing-like motion. He was the featured instrumentalist in the original production, album and video of Riverdance. Spillane was a founding member of Moving Hearts, and has recorded with Van Morrison, Steve Winwood and Elvis Costello, among others.

Discography:

Atlantic Bridge (Tara Music, 1987)
Out of the Air (Tara Music, 1988)
Shadow Hunter (Tara Music,1990)
Pipedreams (Tara Music, 1991)
EastWind, with Andy Irvine (Tara Music,1992)
A Place Among The Stones (1994)
Calman The Dove, with Savourna Stevenson (1998)
The Sea of Dreams (Covert Records, 1998)
Forgotten Days, with Kevin Glackin (2001)
Deep Blue Sea (2004)
Between Longing & Belonging (2016)

With Moving Hearts

Moving Hearts (1981)
Dark End of the Street (1982)
The Storm (1985)
Live Hearts (1986)
Live in Dublin (2008)

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Artist Profiles: Bagad Kemper

Bagad Kemper

Bagad Kemper is the undisputed premier-league leader of Brittany’s pipe-band scene, having won its national championships a record-breaking 18 times. Bagad Kemper have also broken new ground in cross-fertilizing Breton traditions with other musical styles. Adapting classical orchestration techniques, together with rock elements, their pioneering original compositions have boldly taken massed bagpipes, bombardes and drums where none have gone before.

Their open-minded spirit has enabled the Bagad band to add new sounds to traditional pieces, tunes from different regions, to invite various foreign musicians to share the stage with them, or again to perform concerts abroad.

Discography:

Toniou war an Dachenn I (1976)
Toniou war an Dachenn II (1979)
Toniou war an Dachenn III (1984)
Tonioù war an Dachenn IV (1989)
The Best of (1992)
Lip Ar Maout (1995)
Hep Diskrog (1999)
Azeliz Iza (2001)
Sud Ar Su (2004)
Collection 1995 – 2005 (2006)
Best of Gwi@derien (2009)
Live au Cornouaille (2010)
Breizh Balkanik (2011)
Fest-rock, with Red Cardell (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Liam O’Flynn

Liam O’Flynn

Master uilleann piper Liam O’Flyn, also known as Liam Óg Ó Floinn, was born  September 15, 1945 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland.  to musical parents.

Liam O’Flynn was born into what he described as “a very definite thing.” His father was a schoolmaster and fiddle player and his  mother, who played and taught piano, came from a family of famous musicians from Clare.

After a time on the tin whistle and a short period ‘scraping’ at a small violin, Liam finally got started on the uilleann pipes. He had an obvious gift for this most  complicated instrument, and was encouraged by all around him, notably by the Kildare piper Tom Armstrong. At the age of eleven, he received master-classes with Leo Rowsome.

In his teens, Liam and his pipes began to attend music sessions in the Kildare village of Prosperous. There, for the first time, he met many of the people with whom he would later make his name and tour the concert-halls of the world. These were musicians like Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine with whom, in the early seventies, Liam formed the legendary folk band Planxty. One of Ireland’s most important and influential groups, Planxty brought a style, innovation and ‘cool’ to Irish music which was to lead directly to the many Irish musical success stories during the decades that followed.

Behind the innovation and experimentation, Liam O’Flynn always managed to remain true to the great piping tradition. He took his instrument into previously unexplored territory – be it as a member of Planxty, as a soloist with an orchestra or working with artists as diverse as John Cage, The Everly Brothers, Van Morrison and Kate Bush.

Liam O’Flynn was one of Ireland’s greatest musicians . He died March 14, 2018.

Discography:

Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
The Well Below the Valley, with Planxty (Polydor, 1973)
Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, with Planxty (Polydor, 1974)
The Planxty Collection (Polydor, 1974)
After The Break, with Planxty (Tara, 1979)
The Woman I Loved So Well, with Planxty (Tara, 1980)
Words and Music, with Planxty (WEA, 1983)
Liam O’Flynn (Tara Records, 1988)
The Fine Art of Piping (Tara Records, 1991)
Out to an Other Side (Tara Records, 1993)
The Given Note (Tara Records, 1995)
The Piper’s Call (Tara Records, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: Calum MacCrimmon

Calum MacCrimmon – Photo by Lindsay Addison

Calum MacCrimmon is a Scottish multi-instrumentalist born in Canada. He plays bagpipes, whistles, and bouzouki.

Calum MacCrimmon began learning the bagpipes at the age of 9 under a local piper and family friend in Edmonton, Canada. In 1991 Calum and his family moved over to a small town in the East of Scotland where he furthered his piping in and around many junior competitions with much success in the North and Southeast. Some of Calum’s tutors include Anne Spalding, Lindsay Ellis, Norman Gillies, John D. Burgess and Alan MacDonald of Glenuig.

In 2000 Calum was accepted in the traditional music course at the RSAMD in Glasgow. During his time in Glasgow, Calum has pursued the whistle, guitar, smallpipes, and Gaelic song. He has also taken a great interest in teaching classes in the National Piping Centre, Glasgow over the last two years.

Calum became involved with the Scottish Feisean movement as a tutor of pipes and whistle, he is also a member of the 52nd Lowland Regiment Pipe Band in Glasgow and Hamish Moore’s Na Tri Seudan, based in Edinburgh. Calum assisted the musical production of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland as a pipe teacher and accompanying musician alongside Paul Warren (director) and Brian McNeil (producer).

He has participated in various bands, including Breabach, Mans Ruin, The Unusual Suspects, Seudan, RTK9000, Knobsquad, and Saxon Pop.

In 2007 Calum MacCrimmon won the Dewar Award.

Discography:

The Big Spree, with Breabach (Vertical Records, 2007)
Man’s Ruin (Box of Chocolates Records, 2009)
The Desperate Battle of the Birds, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2010)
Big Like This, with The Unusual Suspects (Big Bash Records, 2010)
String Theory, with Mike Vass (2010)
Seudan (Greentrax, 2011)
Bann, with Breabach (Breabach Records, 2012)

Seudan, with Seudan

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Artist Profiles: Xuacu Amieva

Piper Xuacu Amieva was born October 12, 1954 in Llanes, Spain. He’s one of the acknowledged figures in the field of Asturian traditional music. His extended career as a much awarded piper, teacher of piping and multi-instrumentalist in several folk bands has garnered him an excellent reputation both in his native Asturias and the rest of Spain.

His repertoire runs a wide range of songs and melodies from the Asturian tradition including not only pipe tunes but also pieces originally played on the rebec, the hurdy-gurdy or the flute or coming from the vocal tradition.

Xuacu started his career in 1975 by doing ethnographic research and taking part in folk fairs together with bands such as Raigañu and Urogallos.

In 1980 he started to impart piping lessons in Oviedo, an activity which has taken him to other places in Asturias and continues to this day. In 1984 he and Francisco Ortega co-authored the first Asturian bagpipe method. In 1987 his piping school in Oviedo spawned a pipe band called Narancu for which he acts as musical director.

He was a founder member of folk groups Beleño (1983) and Ubiña (1985) until they disbanded in 1989. Either with these bands or as a soloist he took part in many festivals and traditional music gatherings both in Asturias and the rest of Spain and Europe.

Starting from 1990 he embarked on a solo career playing a lot of festivals in Europe with different accompanying line-ups.

He has been writing music for television documentaries and short films. He also wrote the script for a documentary on Asturian musical instruments. Xuacu Amieva is passionate about disseminating Asturian traditional music. He collaborates with several schools playing multi-instrument concerts with bagpipe, rebec, hurdy-gurdy, flutes, percussion and vocals.

Xuacu Amieva’s album Tiempo de mitos contains pieces based on some mythological figures from the Asturian folklore.

He collaborated with The Chieftains singing and playing rebec on a track of their Grammy-awarded album Santiago.

Discography:

Metodo de Gaita (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1984)
Onde l’agua az (Sociedad Fonografica Asturiana 1986)
Ubiña (Fonoastur 1988)
Xostrando (Fonoastur 1989)
Lluna caldia (Gau Records 1992)
Tiempo de mitos (Ediciones Resistencia 1999)
Al Son del Fueu (Piraña Family Producciones 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Tommy Martin

Tommy Martin

Tommy Martin was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently lives in the United States. He took his first uilleann pipes lesson from Dublin piper Mick O’Brien, a cousin, in 1984 at the age of 12. By 1988 with the great help of Mick’s tuition and guidance he won first place at the Annual Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in the 15-18 age group uilleann pipes competition and again in 1991 in the senior competition.

From his late teens Tommy has been very much involved in encouraging traditional Irish music especially uilleann pipes by teaching younger musicians around Ireland at Tionol and Scoil Eigse.
His professional career started in 1996 when he took a job organizing and playing at Irish music nights in Irish pubs in Hong Kong. This led to more work in Asian cities such as Kuala Lumpur Jakarta Singapore and Tokyo over the following years.

A highlight for Tommy was playing support to Shooglenifty at the Hong Kong Folk Festival in 1996.

Back in Europe Tommy’s talent and experience took him to perform in almost every mainland country. Performances have varied from solo uilleann pipes performances to playing with 5 piece folk bands and have been as diverse as being an uilleann pipes tutor in New Zealand to performing with “Riverdance” in New York to performing with the Chicago Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra.

Tommy is also an experienced uilleann pipes teacher. He has tutored students all over Ireland England New Zealand and now the US. Tommy was teacher of the advanced uilleann pipes class in Na Piobairi Uilleann Dublin up until he moved to St Louis, Missouri in 2003. His first solo CD Uilleann Piper was released in 2000 and Tommy can be also heard on 12 other albums as a guest musician.

Tommy’s second album, Shady Woods came out in December 2005. That month he also toured as a guest with traditional band Teada as they celebrated their Irish Christmas in America tour. Other guests were Grainne Hambly on harp and singer Cathie Ryan.

Tommy now lives in St. Louis, where he now teaches fiddle flute and uilleann pipes. He also makes tin whistles and uilleann pipes.

Discography:

Uilleann Piper (2000)

Shady Woods (2005)

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Artist Profiles: Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald

Finlay MacDonald was born in 1978. He is a Scottish bagiper and composer.

Finlay MacDonald started learning the highland bagpipe at the age of ten with his father, Pipe Major Iain MacDonald and later from Duncan Johnstone and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald.. Finlay was one of the first bagpipe players to receive a BA in Scottish music and piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

He formed The Finlay MacDonald Band, where he played bagpipes and whistles along with Chris Stout on fiddle, Kevin Mackenzie on guitar, John Spiers on bass and Fergus MacKenzie on drums.
He has worked with many leading artists in the traditional music scene including Fred Morrison, The Unusual Suspects, La Banda Europa, Old Blind Dogs and Chris Stout.

Discography:

Pressed for Time (Foot Stompin’ Records, 2003)
First O’ the Darkenin (2004)
Reecho (Greentrax, 2007)
The Cauld Wind (2013)
Finlay Macdonald (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Jerry O’Sullivan

Jerry O’Sullivan

Uilleann piper flutist and whistler Jerry O’Sullivan has been at the very heart of the traditional Irish music scene in New York for many years and is always the first to help when a member of the community needs it. A gifted performer he has worked with many groups in the area as well enjoying an enviable career as a solo artist.

He has amassed a substantial discography with appearances on over sixty albums. He has been a music teacher for many years at The Tara Circle and many Irish arts weekends and has always been happy to share his time and talent.

Discography

The Invasion (Green Linnet 1997)
The Gift (Shanachie 1998)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell (2005)
O’Sullivan Meets O’Farrell: Volume II (2010)

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Artist Profiles: Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan

Gordon Duncan began piping at the age of 8. Taught by his father, he was a prolific Junior Winner at various competitions and stopped competing by the age of 17. He was one of Scotland’s most innovative, skillful and exciting pipers. For two years he was a MacCallan winner at the prestigious Celtic festival in Lorient, France.

He was featured as a member of many bands includingCeolbeg Wolfstone Tannahill Weavers, and Dougie Maclean Band. He has also been a member of The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band, Scottish Power Pipe Band, and most recently Drambuie Kirkliston pipe band.

Duncan composed many pipe band tunes, which have been recorded by many folk and pipe bands across the world.

Gordon Duncan died in December of 2005. He was 41.

Discography

Just for Seamus (Greentrax, 1994)

Circular Breath (Greentrax, 1997)

The Piping Centre 1996 Recital Series, Vol. 4 (Temple Records, 1998)

Thunderstruck (Greentrax, 2003)

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