A slightly bonkers boxing day tradition for Northumbrian Pipers is Wannies Yomp. Whatever the weather pipers gather at the top of Great Wanney crag at a sensible and not very strict ‘mid morning’ and play a few tunes – not the least of which is of course the “Wild Hills of Wannies”.
This year was no exception – although the post Wanney session in a local pub was definitely not on the menu. Numbers were sorely depleted with COVID restrictions – but one fool was up there in the gale:
The weather always clears the head – this was definitely one of the windier ones and playing was only really possible tucked down in the mini stell this year!
This is a lovely little tune that I’ve known for years – but without any background or history. I first learnt it by osmosis – but then found it in a copy of the ‘Sussex tunebook’ given to me at some stage. It’s commonly played as a polka in D – but also G and has an unusual 40-bar form which sometimes causes confusion in sessions.
The tune appears in various fiddle manuscripts in the early & mid 1800’s and also as an earlier military march with a different name (Pauve Madeleine) – but the ‘Night ’til Morn’ name eluded me.
That is until, whilst doing to research on the Rook manuscript, I got sucked into reading some background on the growth of the middle class in the early 19th century – which lead me to Jane Austen. John Rook spent a fair bit of time coaching young ladies in the playing of the piano and looking at the index of the Austen manuscripts there is certainly some crossover in repetoire. Amongst all of that can be found a version of “From Night ’til Morn” – in the key of Bb and arranged for two players / singers:
Austen’s title could easily be interpreted as a drinking song but the first line of the song points to a more melancholic perspective “From Night ’til Morn I take my glass in hopes to forget my Chloe”.
This song and similar arrangements were published in the late C18th – and in many places the arrangement is attributed to William Shield – who is also responsible for the class Northumbrian Smallpipes variations to the Keel Row. A very small world indeed.
This is an older 7 key Burleigh ‘F’ set in good playing order – a great set to get started on or as a transition from a hire set. The chanter is numbered 1105 which dates to the mid 1980‘s and the wood is possibly cocobolo. The drones are blackwood and in the standard Burleigh pattern with a single tuning bead on the ‘big G’ drone. Although all the components parts are by David Burleigh, the drones & chanter were not produced together, they are however ‘matched’ parts in terms of age and style. They were each found languishing in various boxes and with a little TLC have made a good marriage. There are a couple of ‘extras’ as well; the set comes with an interchangeable stock – meaning that the chanter is easily unplugged and another chanter can be used and the bag has also been upgraded.
Sets of this age always come some wear & tear – there are however a couple of specific cosmetic ‘faults’ that you should be aware of. The lower decoration on the chanter has a significant ‘chip’ missing – this can be seen in the photos. The brass slider tube on the large G drone has been replaced as the original had failed. The chanter foot is also a replacement and does not match the orange-ish (aged catalin) of the drone ends. None of these affect the playability or musicality of the set.
This is a fully working & reeded set complete with bellows, blue velvet bag cover and standard Burleigh pattern case. The chanter plays brightly in traditional ‘F+’ and the keys all respond well – the drones are strong and steady.
This is an early Evans 7 key F set, approximately 30 years old and based on condition only lightly played in that time. The ‘pattern’ of this set is not as immediately recognisable as Richard and Anita’s sets produced in the last 20 years – but it is one of theirs! When the set came to me I soon had it playing and I could tell it had some quality about it but there are no makers marks. Fortunately an original initialed reed (dated 1991) was still in the chanter and when I asked Richard and Anita – they recognised the set immediately.
The key work is in the ‘Ross’ pattern and the chanter sits happily in concert F with the original reed. The drone standing parts are unmounted but each drone comes with a tuning bead which means you have a much wider choice of drone tunings. Bag and bellows are in excellent – almost as new – condition and will provide many years of service. It would also be relatively easy to fit, at some point, an interchangeable stock in the bag to take a multi-keyed chanter.
Overall, this is an excellent quality 7 key set that will provide a lifetime of playing. Set is all original, fully reeded and comes complete with bellows, bag cover and case.