Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alien reed making

Looking for reed instruction, I found this set of videos (here is complete set), showing how to make a bagpipe reed. It's very strange to watch, because some things are the same: it's a double reed, and shares the same physics of sound production, so on any planet, there'll be certain things which remain constant. The bagpipe is a different instrument than the orchestral double reeds, so some things have to be different: the reed is enclosed, so there's no interaction with embouchure; the air comes from a bag, the range is small and uses no overblowing. However, there seems to be no overlap with the cultural history of double reed making. In particular, there's a near total absence of specialized tools: no reed knife, no gouging or profiling machine, etc. The tools he does have he's made himself: a forming mandrel for the staple, which he filed out of a nail, the easel, the bed he gouges the cane in. Very interesting.

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