As well as playing lots of instruments I love to collect them too
Umberto Echo says that having unread books is more useful than read one
“The library should contain as much of what you do not know 
as your financial means… allows you to put there. “

I’ve always felt the same about musical instruments..
Being surrounded by instruments that I can’t play or maybe play a little 
is much more inspiring to me than seeing only one instrument 
that I may feel relatively competent on

That I find them very beautiful things in their own right help too

So essentially I collect things that “I’d like to play” or “Hope to play one day”
and the opportunities to learn them often arise through jobs or recording projects
If a composer requires a specific sound then working on that project provides 
the incentive and motivation to spend time with that instrument

So it’s not unusual to have a conversation along the lines of..
“Can you play… ?”  to which the reply is  “How long do I have… ?”

Instruments vary geographically in much the same way that languages do
which is to say more gradually and less distinctly than most people imagine

Bansuri (Hindustani transverse flute) and  Irish Penny whistle may seem worlds apart
and have very different methods of generating the sound but the fingering is identical
Whereas a recorder and a whistle produce the sound in the same way.. a fipple
but have very different fingering and breath control

A kaval has different fingering and embouchure to all three
but over-blows in just the same way that most woodwind does
though you are more likely to use the odd as well as the even partials

So there are instruments that I have played enough to say..
“well I can get all the notes out of that” ... which is a great first step

making those notes fluent and subtle throughout the range
getting comfortable enough with the instrument to play more fluidly
and maybe acquainting the mind with what the notes are
so that scales and modes can be easily accessed
and then maybe learning to read on it..
these are all good next steps

and that’s to say nothing of studying the genre, gestures and sensibilities 
of the music which that instrument maybe more or less closely associated with

One of the wonderful aspects particularly of traditional musical instruments
is the almost endless variety of shapes and forms and unexpected turns
As with most of the truly subtle fields of study it’s a case of 
the more I learn the more I realise how little I know

Another side of this inexhaustible plethora of forms is that
there are probably as many instruments that I can play and don’t own
as there are ones that I can’t play and do own

For example the Gaita Gallega (Galician Bagpipe)
is almost identical in form to the Gaita de Fole (Portuguese Bagpipe) 
the later having a slightly huskier tone and being in a natural minor scale

So when Spanish pipes where needed for a show I simple bought a set
quickly got used to the major scale and played them very happily

Likewise I don’t own a set of the Scottish Great Highland Pipes
mainly because they are an expensive item that I’ve not needed thus far
but I’ve played them briefly and played small pipes which share the same fingering
so would be happy to say I could get them going fairly quickly if needed
and would be delighted if they were needed at some point
because that would justify me buying a set

you see how it goes..


Composers (and instro-nerds)

click on the picture below for a more detailed list