Making Keys For Northumbrian Smallpipes
Northumbrian pipes are available either with or without keys. Originally, the instrument had a plain chanter with no keys and a unique and distinctive repertoire to tunes were played. In the 18th Century, this chanter was developed by makers in Newcastle-on-Tyne and North Shields through the addition of keys. This allowed pipers to explore the fiddle repertoire as well as the older pipe tunes of the region.
Keys are hand made, which is an extremely time consuming job. However, the results are well worth the effort, both in terms of the tunes which can be played and the beauty of finished chanter. I’ve been making keys this week from brass sheet. This is cut, cold forged and filed to shape. The round head which will cover the hole on the chanter is cut and soldered on before a leaf spring is hand made and riveted to the key shank.
Once finished, the key is drilled to take the pin which attaches it to the chanter and final shaping and adjustments are made to ensure a smooth action.
For more information on buying a set of Northumbrian Small Pipes contact me at Kim@Northumbrianpipes.co.uk
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