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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 14:33 GMT
Bagpipes blow in from 10 nations
Top left, clockwise: A Bulgarian bagpipe; Scottish small and border pipes; Welsh pipcorn pipe and English Northumbrian pipe
A bagpipe collector and maker has launched a one-off exhibition to raise the profile of the centuries-old instruments.

It features 12 pipes not only from the obvious locations like Scotland and Ireland, but also from Bulgaria, Italy, France and England.

Staged at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth, the exhibits belong to Alan Ginsberg, 59, from near Llanberis.

The exhibition features pipes from 10 European countries in all.

But to most people, the word bagpipes conjures up marching pipe bands, kilts, thick socks, tassels and tartan, but there is much more to them, says Mr Ginsberg.

I like people seeing and listening to my pipes, otherwise they're just sticks of wood
Alan Ginsberg

His love affair with the bagpipes started nearly 40 years ago after he heard one played in London.

"I like people seeing and listening to my pipes, otherwise they're just sticks of wood," he said.

"I've had some interesting comments too. Some people have even said to me that they thought that bagpipes were only played by the Scottish.

"But every country has a pipe instrument and that's one of the greatest things about them and music - you get this cross-cultural contact."

He added: "They're a unique sound. You think, 'whatever's making that sound, I want to make it too.'"

A bagpipe from Brittany, France
The bagpipes are played around Europe

In 1970, he took the ambitious step of learning how to make bagpipes. He described it as a "big step" because other makers were "secretive about the art".

However, with help from friends in Ireland, Mr Ginsberg soon developed the craft.

Now he makes bagpipes for mainly Irish ex-pats who have settled in other countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.

European Bagpipes, on show until 19 May, also includes a collection of Mr Ginsberg's other wind instruments, including a Welsh pipcorn horn.

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