Press Releases

A cool rare note or two set stage for hot show

Introducing the mandozoulin and shuttlepipes

Kirsty Macnicol
The Southland Times
June 29, 2002


TWO rare instruments will feature in this year's Pipin ' Hot show which
opens at the Civic Theatre in Invercargill on Wednesday. They are the shuttlepipes and a mandozoulin.
The mandozoulin, a cross between a mandolin and a bouzouki, was custom-made for Invercargill musician Brad MacClure who came up with the concept. The shuttlepipes, played by City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe Band pipe major David Pickett, are thought to be one of only two sets in New Zealand.
Shuttlepipes, a small and much quieter version of the highland bagpipes, were popular 300 to 400 years ago but, like many other forms of European bagpipes, they neared extinction.
The pipes derive their name from their unique shuttle drone _ a series of winding tubes enclosed in a wooden chamber that means the pitch can be sharpened or flattened by moving a wooden slide.
Mr Pickett bought his set from bagpipe-maker John Walsh of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, during the band's tour there last year.
The fingering technique was identical to the highland bagpipes but the
smaller pipes required a different blowing pressure that took a lot of practice and control, he said.
Where highland bagpipes had a bass and two tenor drones, the shuttlepipes had a bass, tenor and a baritone.
"That gives it a fuller sound but it's certainly quite different," Mr Pickett said.
The shuttlepipes fit perfectly with the 10-string mandozoulin custom built by Dunedin guitar-maker Steve Barkman.
Mr MacClure said the mandozoulin had proved a versatile instrument. Tuned in fifths, it had a huge range and was ideal for Celtic music. By using a capo he could get the sound of a mandolin, mandola, bouzouki and more.
"It gives you all these different instruments in one." Made with a European spruce top, Zebrano back and sides, Wenga fingerboard, bridge and tailpiece, it also features maple and bulbinga, with Riverton paua inlays.
Another unusual instrument making its debut in Pipin ' Hot is a didgeridoo.
"It's like vocal percussion really," Mr MacClure said.
To get a B-flat to fit the tuning of the bagpipes, he used a rough mathematical calculation to multiply the length of a B-flat tin whistle to find a pipe the right length and diameter for the job.
Mr Pickett said the new instrumental lineup complemented a new musical feel.
"We've been experimental in this show. We've pushed our own boundaries.
"It still has the traditional elements but we've brought in a lot of contemporary elements that should appeal to a much wider audience."


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