SLOVAK BAGPIPES

Bagpipes - Orava


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Detail
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Detail

Highland villages in the northernmost corner of Slovakia, are the abodes of a living piping tradition. Today's excellent young pipers of the area had learned the art of bagpipe directly from the old masters - Zboron from Oravska Polhora and Ferneza from Sihelne, and, aside folklore festivals, they are still playing at weddings and parties, like their teachers did.

The Orava bagpipes, called gajdy or also dudy, are of two-voice variety, most often played together with the fiddle.The chanter – gajdica – has 6 fingerholes in the front and one thumbhole on the rear. Covering all of them, we get the low fourth. When we open the lowest one, the lower second (half tone, originaly 3/4 though) is heard. The next one plays the tonic. Continuing upwards, we get a part of major scale, ending with the 6th. The fingering is closed, only one hole to be opened for each of the tones.

The chanter is usualy placed in an angled stock, carved in a shape of goat's head.

The drone – huk – plays two octaves downwards from the chanter's key note. It is also placed in an angled stock, usualy in a shape of a dragon's or wolf's ... It rests on the shoulder, pointing backwards. The chanter and the drone likewise terminate in a curved bell, made of wood, metal or ox horn, mounted with a lid of sheet brass. All the wooden parts were traditionally pewter inlayed.

In making the Orava bagpipe, I collaborate with Frantisek Skurcak. Besides being an excellent craftsman, he lives in Oravska Polhora, and knows everything about the bagpipes, historical and, as to say, human background of its making and use. Thus the spirit of the place is brought into the instruments.

Tuning:
Orava – d, flat, e, f.

Prices:
450 to 750 euro, according to materials and style