What an eye-opener the survey of solo pipers was for me. Being around it, you get a general sense of what’s being played, but to do an analysis and find out exactly what’s preferred was not only educational but fun.
Of course, the only real way to do such a survey is to promise that names won’t be used, and that’s why I think the response rate was unexpectedly good. I’m glad that people by-and-large feel confident that their secrets may be shared, but not their name.
Until a reader from North Carolina sent me the brilliantly obvious question via e-mail, I never even thought to check my spreadsheet to see if a piper actually played the exact combined set-up of the most popular makes and models. Amazingly (or not), no one puts together all of the leading items to create some sort of super-pipe. The sum of the parts does not necessarily equal the whole . . . or something.
That’s because the Highland bagpipe is still a very individual instrument. We can harp on about how every pipe sounds the same at the top-level, but it’s obviously not true, since the subtleties between chanters, reeds, drones and so forth are a matter of personal preference and taste.
The variety evidenced in the first-ever instrument survey just goes to show: for all the technology and new materials, the bagpipe and its players, even at the very top level, are as fickle as ever.
I’d be interested to hear from readers about what you’re playing, and whether this sort of survey has changed your mind about your instrument set-up.