(b Halton Lea Gate, Northumberland, 16 Aug 1923; d 17 July 1995). Northumbrian smallpipe player and fiddler. Joe Hutton's father, Jake Hutton, was a hill farm shepherd and fiddle player. Hutton's mother died when he was young and for a while he lived with his paternal aunt and uncle, John Little, also a fiddler. Hutton began by playing the fiddle and accordion and regularly stepdanced. He first heard the small pipes played by P.J. Liddell of Haltwhistle and George Armstrong of Hexham at a concert in Henshaw in 1936 and, while still a schoolboy, took lessons from the latter. The first tunes he played on the pipes had been learnt from his father and his own piping reflected the rhythms of fiddle music. Practised at playing by ear, he also learnt much of his repertory from manuscripts. In 1937 he began competing and won first prize as a novice. When competitions were discontinued at the outbreak of the war, Hutton reverted to playing the fiddle at monthly dances. He returned to the pipes in 1950 and competed again, for instance at Bellingham and Rochester. For two years he won all the open competitions. He met his wife Hannah through her brother John Robson, a piper who played his grandfather's instrument and whose great aunt, piper Mary Anderson, had played before Edward VII. Hutton's pipes, made in 1870 by T.E. Thompson of Sewingshields, were of ivory and silver with a 17-key chanter. After he retired, Hutton did committee work for the Alnwick Pipers' Society and taught in Rothbury and Alnwick. Along with his contempories Will Atkinson and Willy Taylor, he found a new outlet for his music at festivals around the country, on records and occasionally on the radio.
and other resources
J. Hutton and T. Breckons: Joe Hutton's Northumbrian and Alnwick Pipers' Societies, (1996)
The Voice of the People, xiv: Ranting & Reeling: Dance Music of the North of England, various pfmrs, Topic TSCD 669 (1999)
A two-string Spike fiddle. It is widespread in Gobi areas of central Mongolia and among Eastern Mongols, including Buryats. It is also played by Darhats in Hövsgöl aimag (province), north-west Mongolia, who call it hyalgasan huur, and by predominantly female ensemble-performers. The instrument is similar to Chinese fiddles, such as the huqin (hu means ‘barbarian’, suggesting that, from the Chinese perspective, the instrument came from foreign parts). The 12th-century Yüan-Shih describes a two-string fiddle, xiqin, bowed with a piece of bamboo between the strings, used by Mongols. During the Manchu dynasty, a similar two-string instrument bowed with a horsehair bow threaded between the strings was used in Mongolian music.
The huuchir has a cylindrical or polygonal open-backed body of wood or metal, through which is passed a wooden spike. Among herders, it is made from readily-available discarded items such as brick-tea containers, with a table of sheep- or goatskin. Traditional instruments made in Ulaanbaatar used snakeskin brought from China by migrant workers; modern urban and ensemble instruments also use snakeskin. A bridge, standing on the skin table, supports two gut or steel strings, which pass up the rounded, fretless neck to two posterior pegs and down to the bottom, where they are attached to the spike protruding from the body. A small metal ring, attached to a loop of string tied to the neck, pulls the strings towards it and can be adjusted to alter the pitch of the open strings, usually tuned to a 5th. The thick, bass string is situated to the left of the thin, high string in frontal aspect.
In performance, the musician rests the body of the instrument on the left upper thigh, close to the belly, with its table directed diagonally across the body and the neck leaning away from it. The thumb of the left hand rests upright along the neck of the instrument. Horsehairs of the arched, bamboo bow are divided into two sections so that one section passes over the bass string and the other over the top string. The bow is held underhand with a loose wrist. The index finger rests on the wood, and the bow hairs pass between middle and ring finger to both regulate the tension of the hairs and direct them. To sound the thick string, it is necessary to pull (tatah) one section of bow hairs with the ring finger, and to sound the thin string, to push the other section. Strings are touched lightly on top by the fingertips. In modern ensemble orchestras, there are small-, medium- and large-sized huuchir.
The Buryat Mongol huchir is a two- or four-string spike fiddle which is constructed with a cylindrical, hexagonal or octagonal resonator and mostly made of wood rather than metal. Buryats use silk or metal strings, tuned in 5ths; in the case of the four-string instrument, the first and third, and second and fourth strings are tuned in unison. The bow hair is threaded between the strings. On four-string types, the bow hair is divided into two strands, one fixed between the first and second strings, the other between the third and fourth. The huchir is related to the Nanai ducheke, the Nivkhi tïgrïk and the Mongolian huuchir.
J. Badraa: ‘Mongol ardyn högjmiin zevseg’ [Mongolian folk musical instruments], Orchin üeiin mongol uls, iii (1963), 16
C.A. Pegg: Mongolian Music, Dance and Oral Narrative: Performing Diverse Identities (Seattle and London, 2001) [with CD]
A musical ensemble from Tuva, in southern Siberia, which emerged in the 1990s as the pre-eminent international representative of Tuva's musical culture. The name (Tuvan xün xürtü) means literally ‘sun propeller’ and refers to the vertical separation of light rays that in Tuva often occurs just after sunrise or just before sunset. For the members of Huun-Huur-Tu the refraction of light that produces these rays seems analogous to the ‘refraction’ of sound that produces articulated harmonics in Tuvan overtone singing.
Original members of Huun-Huur-Tu (founded in 1992) included Kaigal-ool Khovalyg (b 1960), Albert Kuvezin (b 1965), Sayan Bapa (b 1962) and Aleksandr Bapa (b 1958). Later, Kuvezin and Aleksandr Bapa formed their own ensembles and were replaced by Anatoli Kuular (b 1967) and Alexei Saryglar (b 1966). Huun-Huur-Tu's song arrangements and performance style were shaped by its members' experience in ensembles organized under the aegis of the Soviet Ministry of Culture to perform Tuvan ‘national’ music in pop-inspired forms. Huun-Huur-Tu, however, differs in important ways from its Soviet predecessors. Eschewing the standard Soviet template for ‘national’ music ensembles of electric guitars, bass and drum kit combined with amplified traditional instruments and pop-style vocals, Huun-Huur-Tu emerged as a folk music group much like revivalist folk groups in the West. While all of the members of Huun-Huur-Tu have direct experience of Tuva's pastoral way of life, they learnt most of their repertory from recordings, song collections and fieldwork expeditions rather than through oral transmission from family or neighbours. Huun-Huur-Tu's hallmark musical style is characterized by a seamless mixture of overtone-singing (xöömei), lyrical ‘long songs’ (uzun yry) and instrumental accompaniment on the igil, byzaanchi and doshpuluur, arranged for stage performance.
60 Horses in my Herd: Old Songs and Tunes of Tuva, Shanachie 64050 (1993)
Fly, Fly my Sadness, perf. The Bulgarian Voices ‘Angelite’, Huun-Huur-Tu, S. Starostin and M. Alperin, Jaro 4197–2 (1996)
If I'd been Born an Eagle, Shanachie 64080 (1997)
The Orphan's Lament, Jaro 4204–2 (1997)
Where Young Grass Grows, Shanachie 66018 (1999)