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Information about Bewick's Footsteps : A Garland of New Tunes (Northumbrian Pipes)
Bewick's Footsteps is a book of 24 new tunes, each linked to an engraving by Thomas Bewick (or from the Bewick workshop). The chosen engravings suggest a particular mood or a musical idea that might be developed, so in each case the music is a response to the picture.
The largest group consists of examples of the tail-pieces from the various volumes of The History of British Birds. These were, of course, untitled but the titles that have been given to the tunes will identify many to the Bewick enthusiast: Cavalry in the Churchyard, The Bull at the Stile, The Wheelwright, Toy Boats on the Tyne (shown left, with the lantern tower of St. Nicholas' in the background). The birds themselves are represented by The Cuckoo and Hens Around the Yard.
The inspiration for three of the tunes came from some of the beautiful tickets for various events on which Bewick and his apprentices lavished such care. The most famous is that for Mr. Kinloch's Ball, the copper etching that has since graced the covers of publications of the Northumbrian Pipers' Society.
The final tune is entitled Bewick's Rest and illustrates the late engraving of a funeral procession approaching a river with a boat waiting to ferry the coffin (published posthumously in the Memoir, 1862). Iain Bain, who designed the layout of the book and added annotations, suggests that as the cottage is similar to Bewick's birthplace at Cherryburn, he might have been contemplating his own death.
The tunes are in Northumbrian folk style - jigs, reels, hornpipes and slow airs ~ and are all playable on Northumbrian pipes with the standard seven-keyed chanter but they are equally suitable for any melody instrument. They are presented as melodies with chord symbols but a book of accompaniments for piano or harp is also available.
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