‘Wet work’: A tale of two bagpipes
A bagpipe legend and his bagpipers have come together to create a new genre: the wet work of a bagpipe player.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Robert Kallenberg, an avant-garde artist and musician in Washington state who has collaborated with the Bagpipers since 2009.
“I’m still learning the craft.”
The Bagpipes’ new record, The Waters, was recorded in the style of the avant garde and incorporates music and performances that have been in use for decades, from jazz to chamber music to folk music.
It is a collection of songs from the 1920s to the 1990s that have long been considered classics in their own right, but are often overlooked in contemporary music.
“I’m trying to create an art form that isn’t just a performance,” Kallberg said.
“It’s a work of art.”
The Waters is one of a growing number of new artists and musicians who have been inspired by the art form’s history.
The Bagpiper, a genre in its own right that dates back to the early 1900s, emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, when the avante-gardes started incorporating music into their repertoire, often with a heavy dose of improvisation and electronic elements.
Kallenberg and his bandmates have been influenced by this tradition since childhood, but he says the music they create is different from the traditional avant music of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Waters is the result of working with artists who are more modern in their approach.
“The Bagpipe was originally about playing the traditional bagpipe music, but we also try to incorporate modern instruments,” he said.
In the past year, Kallenburg and his Bagpipters have worked on a record with a collection by the composer Joseph Custer called The Red Bands.
The album will be released by Avant-Garde Records on Dec. 7.
“We wanted to have something more contemporary in the bagpipe, more traditional, more natural, but still in keeping with the music that we grew up with,” he explained.
“This is something we feel a connection to.”
Kallberg and the Bagpipe are still learning how to play the instruments, but Kallenders hopes to make more recordings that take their sound in a different direction.
“These bagpiping songs are just going to be a little more contemporary,” he joked.