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IAN BLAKE: Blog

Ni!

Posted on April 28, 2014 with 0 comments

More Folk Festival fallout: a deal was done and I'm now the (proud, needless to say) owner of a Rauschpfeife. And before you ask, it's one of that 'pneumatic bedpost' family of Renaissance winds which I've fiddled (?) with over the years. It all started when I got hold of David Munrow's LP 'The Medieval Sound', in which he gives a running commentary on a number of pungent sounding reedthings - including the ultimate snartbox, the regals. And I was hooked.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was at college, where you could actually get your hands on these things. I headed for the bass end and got cosy with the kortholt (bumblebee in a big bottle) dallied with the dulcian (think low-budget version of the Carmina Burana Roast Swan intro) and wrestled with the rackett: which has far more fingerholes than nature intended…crikey, it's got fingerholes that aren't holes at all - they stick out of the body and nuzzle against bits of your fingers that aren't used to holewrangling… And then of course, there was the crumhorn, which everyone should try just once.

I realised that this was developing into a dangerous obsession so I concentrated on the lute and tenor viol (same business in the left hand - saves brain…) but the damage was done. I'd been playing bass clarinet for a while - now there's suave, but I still had to have an occasional puff on a friend's sordune. You know, just a few bars won't hurt…

However, I had to admit I was haunted by those Instruments That Say "Ni!"

Time passed. I played in a band (Mellstock) where the bottom end was driven by a serpent which had apparently been found propping up the lid of an outside privy in an Oxfordshire vicarage. I stuck with the clarionet: so far so good. Had a few episodes of border pipes and the odd bombarde incident. I consoled myself from time to time with a vintage Stylophone found in a Finchley charity shop. I now have two, but most of the time I just look at them and buff their metalwork occasionally. So it was all good until last weekend: a broad daylight handover at the Flute & Fiddle and I've been getting a mighty rausch off my pfeife ever since. I love it and I don't care who knows it.
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