Ted Anderson, of Northern California, has been a player of various sorts of bagpipes for most of his life. He has become well-known in the Irish piping community as a Uilleann piper and reed-maker, and also as a source of historical information on Irish pipes and piping. In recent years he has applied the same skill and enthusiasm to the wonderful Italian bagpipes known under the general name Zampogna - a term that covers a wide variety of types and sizes.
Ted owns and plays a number of Zampognas, most of which he has obtained from the all-too-few remaining makers in Italy. Most of these men still work in very traditional style, on simple equipment little changed over the past couple of centuries. The woods used are almost always local, such as Olive, Apricot and Apple. Reeds are usually made from local varieties of cane, though many modern players do a lot of experimenting with plastics.
Really large Zampognas are rarely seen and hardly ever found for sale. They are the largest and deepest-pitched of all bagpipes, with a wonderful melodious character all their own (which is why we feature one on the cover, and on the closing track, of our Sean Folsom Bagpipes of the World album). It seems every piper who falls under the spell of the Zampogna eventually wants one of the big ones. Earlier this year Ted commissioned the highly esteemed master builder Antonio Forastiero of Potenza (south of Naples) to build an a chiave, as this sort of Zampogna is called, in a size of "sei-palmi." Zampognas are measured somewhat like horses - in "palmi," meaning palm. Ted says, "A palm is an old measurement between 9 and 10 inches. It does not directly relate to anything on the instrument but a 3 palmi is one octave higher and 1/2 the length of mine." This Zampogna is nominally in the key of A-Flat, as is the accompanying oboe-like Ciaramella, also made by Antonio Forastiero.