Friday, February 15, 2008

Kaltenberg Ritterturnier:

My girlfriend took me to Kaltenberg, finally. I had been growing a beard for that sole purpose and my outfit had been carefully thought of.

There was the same people from the Treffen, selling bagpipes, but this time they brought a cathaloge. They had a bunch of shawns hanging from the top of the tent, while the smoke and smell of burned wood was striking our nostrils from the market. The atmosphere was amazing. We asked for the price of the shawns (chanter made of blackwood, bell of rosewood) and the price went through our ears like a bullet, not letting our brain to process it (I have seen the same shawns in the internet for nearly half the price), so we didn't ask for the price of the whole pipes, again.

Corvus Corax perform three times per day on Kaltenberg Ritterturnier, since they are the official minstrels of the event. They have a short performance before the jousting, one to open the jousting and a long performance after.

Note: Kaltenberg is a huge event. Carries on for three days a week, three weeks in a month, having an average attendance of 10,000 - 12,000 people per day.

There were lots of pipers about, from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France... none from Scotland, strangely, even there were quite a few people dressed in kilts (ancient ones). Finally I adquired a really nice fighting sword, made in Czeck Republic and we went home. As soon as I took off my wet clothes (it was raining cats and dogs) I started practising with the practise chanter again...

Leipzig Gothic Treffen

We ended up going to the Leipzig Gothic Treffen. The city boils with people dressed up in black with tons of make up. The venues vary, but they are spread in three or four parts in the city.

Unfortunately our hotel was placed oposite to everywhere and it was a big issue if we wanted to go shopping.

Anyway, one of the big parts of the festival was just around the camping area and it was the Medieval market. There you could enjoy drinking mead, eating roast or even have a bath on a hot wooden tub. Practise archery, have a pendant hammered on an anvil in front of your very eyes... and of course, the typical re-enactment fights with swords, helmets and shields. There were few bands playing around, one of them called "Sierpe" with a dreadful female singer.

And there was a duo of bagpipers with a drummer. Really good stuff. Good melodies, quite ancient tunes.

There was also a stand where some young people were selling hand made bagpipes. Black sheepskin bag, cocuswood drones and chanter (one tenor, one bass drone). They were there basically to show people what bagpipes were about. They were only allowed to sell the pipes on the last day of the festival. Beautiful pieces of work, but I suspected that they were going to be awfully expensive, so we left.

Muenchen Hexennacht

This was the first time I went to a medieval fair, I mean, a proper one, with people walking around with real swords, real chainmail and well, all real. During my roleplaying adventures most armors were made of molded camping mat, sprayed with acrylic paint and given a dry brush of silver. True craftmanship but from the point of view of "safety for sixteen year old geeks".

One of the things that impressed me the most was the variety of medieval instruments that people play in medieval fairs in Germany. When my girlfriend introduced me to Corvus Corax I just couldn't resist the challenge: I had to learn to play backpipes. THAT was the real thing. I was really impressed by the event but my girlfriend kept uttering the words "Wait until you get to see Kaltenberg".

I adquired a practice chanter, made of rosewood, and a tin whistle in D (generation). With the tin whistle, following a course I found given in parts by a jesuit priest in youtube. He seems to be quite a competent teacher and learning with his lessons is very easy.

When I tried to find the same about bagpipes, I found that most clips were about fingering and grace notes, but not much about learning a melody. Not enough to keep me interested. Instead I started learning some Corvus Corax covers of "Ballade de Mercy", "Saltarello", "Skudrinka", "In Taverna"(from their Carmina Burana album "Cantus Buranus")...

One thing that called my attention was the fingering on the practice chanter. Why people were advising to cover certain holes with the right hand when it wasn't making a difference. I started to suspect that my practice chanter (won in ebay for £5+delivery) was hopelessly out of tune, but since I didn't have any reference to compare it with. Either way, I kept practising with it.

The start

I had been involved with Live Medieval Roleplaying for a long time. Every year I used to attend religiously to a festival called EJEN, around my birth city, Malaga.

I moved to London around April 2000. During November of 2006 I met my girlfriend and because of all the circumstances around I decided to move to Munich with her. The idea, to come back to London together after a few months. The few months were nine, and this is how it starts.

I can't really speak German, honestly. During those nine months that we were sorting out contracts and selling furniture to make the big move I was bored to death. I gave German a huge try, but my brain decided that Japanese is easier than German. No language = no job, so I had too much time on my hands.