Today’s feature: the Breton bagpipe.
If you haven’t heard Brittany bagpipe music, you’re in for a treat. It’s different from others simply because the older, small-in-scale Breton pipes, known as the binioù (or the binioù kozh), are tuned very high – the lowest note on the binioù is equal to the highest note on the typical Scottish bagpipe, for instance. As with this piece, a gavotte meant for folk dancing, the pipes are typically accompanied by a bombarde, an oboe-like reed instrument tuned an octave below the binioù. The two play together in the traditional style, overlapping musical lines.
This track appears to have been recorded by two Gramophone engineers, Edward Fowler and Douglas Larter, in January of 1927. The title refers to the small village of Guémené-sur-Scorff. And, I should mention that the flip side of this record, equally as nice, is featured on the Ace & Deuce of Pipering CD released by Heritage…which looks to be out of print now, so best to search the usual avenues for that one.
Mm Le Guennec et Le Bouc – La Gavotte de Guémené-sur-Scorff
This week’s mail brought me the latest Dust-to-Digital 2-CD release Victrola Favorites, which is just a beautiful work of art. I highly recommend this as well as the other D-to-D releases that I’ve previously raved about (Black Mirror, and there’s also Melodii Tuvi). Friend of the site Rob Millis put this together with his partner Jeffrey Taylor and the accompanying 100+ page book is museum quality.
Coupling Number: K-5127
Face Number: 237702-R
Matrix Number: 2L-BFR 294
4 thoughts on “Mm Le Guennec et Le Bouc – La Gavotte de Guémené-sur-Scorff”
Insect bagpipes! I love it.
My information is that most of the recordings of Breton musicians made between 1925 and 1932 were made in Paris studios, with Breton musicians living in the city or brought to Paris for the recording session. Marcel Lebouc, the biniou player on this record, lived in Paris. He can be seen in a 1923 photograph taken during a radio concert. His first commecial record was made for Pather in 1925 with Louis Gueguen, from the Bigouden area of Brittany. His partner on the Breton shawm (bombarde) here is Job Le Guennec, but I don’t know anything more about him.
There’s a similar record of Brittany bagpipe music on Vol. 2 of the Secret Museum:
“Les Fréres Sciallour – Jabadao de Quimper
Quimper (once Cornouaille in medieval times) is the setting for the old jabado (dance) of Bretagne…When street-playing, pipers often hoisted themselves atop wooden kegs at the dockside alleys to further carry the sound(!)”
Indeed, that’s true! I have a copy of that fine 78 as well. There are real photo postcards of those pipers on the docks, which is probably where that description came from (just a hunch).