Pipe up

9th February 1996 at 00:00
HOW TO MAKE AND PLAY PAN-PIPES By Alvaro Grana Condor Books Pounds 8.95

Alvaro Grana, a primary teacher and musician, has compiled within 40 pages an excellent resource offering extensive opportunities for understanding and enjoying pan-pipes.

The haunting sound of pan-pipes has become increasingly familiar through recent recordings and films. However, few of us are likely to be aware of the rich variety of these instruments with their many regional forms and traditional repertoires. Grana describes this background, beginning with the early history of pan-pipes as it is known from ancient iconography and archaeological examples. He continues with an account of the principal types still to be found in Andean regions.

The instructions for making pan-pipes include clear diagrams and precise dimensions. Proceeding from a large drawing showing the four most common traditional sizes, from the smallest "Chuli" to the longest bass "Toyo", he goes on to describe the construction of two different simple sets. Both use easily found material - card, Blu-Tack and string - and need no special tools for their construction.

His first set, the easiest and fastest to make, uses pipes made of wide drinking straws. Templates for these are given on the page, so no measurement is necessary. The second, more permanent (and probably more useful) set uses pipes cut from a type of plastic tubing widely available from builders' merchants.

Grana devotes five pages to a playing method for pan-pipes and concludes with a collection of both familiar and Andean melodies. This attractively illustrated and comprehensively detailed book should be very welcome in schools.

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