Sunday 9 June 2019

Red Dead Fashion

I recently stumbled across this weird and unique subreddit:

r/reddeadfashion has taken gaming avatar customisation to a new extreme, evolving into some strange Red Dead Redemption based Instagram vs IRL simulacra.

We have redditors creating digital avatars, customising their hair and appearance before kitting them out with some unique in-game clothes. Some are trying to mimic real people/celebs and other pop culture references (as seen recently in Soul Calibur), but it’s the submissions that are just trying to look cool or unique that interest me the most. Here are a few of my favourites so far:

Wednesday 5 June 2019

George Glen Uilleann Pipes


I often write about music and instruments here, but this is going to be a very special post about a new set of uilleann pipes I have come to acquire. A month ago I bought a set of pipes from nonother than the caretaker of my old school in Omagh. The instrument was found in the attic of his house by the previous occupant (who had left them there). Considering the caretaker had been in the house for some thirty-odd years, it's safe to assume the set hasn't seen any action in a long time.

Having just seen grainy potato-phone photos of the pipes online, I was able to assume the components were mostly original, and that the maker was George Glen. Finally viewing the set in person confirmed my assumptions. Below are some of my initial thoughts on the instrument.

Glen made pipes in Edinburgh from approx 1900-1920. They match up with the set in the National Museum it Scotland, although this set has folded regulator keys, rather than the standard keys on the museum set. The most obvious comparisons are the highland style combing on the main stock and the bass drone. I haven't found a stamp as of yet.

George Glen also made great highland bagpipes, and there are some surviving examples of these too. He was related to a few other makers (Alexander Glen, David Glen & more) who were into all kinds of pipes and owned a music shop in Edinburgh.

The set seems to be mostly original, just missing the chanter and baritone drone.

On initial inspection, the regulator keys look like they could be aftermarket additions, perhaps from a broken keyblock repair. I reckon the consistency across the keys and lack of spring channels in the wood suggest they are original. The popularity of this type of key among Glen's contemporaries O'Mealy and Hamilton, etc. may help support this. Then again, the big D baritone key looks particularly like the work of McFadden, but I imagine the extra fold at the bottom of the key was made to accommodate a redrilling of the tone hole.

The turning on the drones and regulators suggest that the same maker made them.

The keys are pin mounted by a most unusual method: the pins are made out of a long thin strip of metal that has been folded against itself and made into a 'T' shape.  The only key that is missing this pin is the long D key, further supporting the idea that is was moved aftermarket (perhaps a C# to D?).

The bass drone puck looks like it is made out of two-part ivory and joined together. It is unusual as there is a folded rush from the puck into the connection brass tubing, perhaps to flatten the tone or dampen the sound.

The bag looks to be of good quality leather and ties the chanter stock in at the top. The velvet cover could have been blue but is now mostly discoloured. The main stock has the highland style combing as seen on the other Glen set in the National Museum in Edinburgh. The outer silver ferrule looks like it could be aftermarket, and has been held in place with paper.  The bellows stock appears to be original but missing the ferrule. The turnings match up with the other parts of this set. Somewhere along the line, the connection has been poorly whittled away, perhaps to suit a smaller piper.

The bellows are in good condition, with a very O'Mealy-like appearance. The leather is tacked to the sides of the pipes, with a shallow channel for the leather. There are remains of a decorative green fabric. The inner belt is screwed to the paddle, and the outer one is attached to the back of the paddle at one end. There is a hook at the top of the paddle, after the inlet, where the belt can be attached, allowing for greater access to the regulators.

The box is nicely made with dovetail joints and a red lining. I can make out the name Galloway written in pencil on the inside.

My first investigations into disassembling the set have brought up new questions: how are some of the regulator keys are squared off at the pads and some are not?  The G note on the tenor regulator appears to have been sharpened twice with a plugged & drilled tone hole. The ivory mount on the tenor drone seems to be threaded like a screw–is this a replacement from a highland set? So many questions.

I'm looking forward to new insights revealing themselves with this instrument over the next few years. Once it's up and running, I have a few chanters that might suit it. Watch this space.


A few more photos:

Museum instrumet:

Info on Glen: