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Ambacht in Beeld Festival
30 & 31 March 2024
Brussels - Tour & Taxis Gare Maritime

| Reeds for musettes

Bart Van Troyen -

The musette was the favourite instrument of the French nobility in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a sophisticated type of bagpipe, made from expensive and exotic materials such as tropical hardwood, silk, silver and, in the past, ivory. After the French Revolution, the musette fell into oblivion, but since the 1970s there has been a strong revival. There are now players worldwide, two young builders (Flanders and France), and you hear the musette more and more often at concerts. There is even a course in our DKO and at the conservatory (LUCA, School of Arts, Leuven), even the head teacher traverso of the Brussels conservatory, Anna Besson, has recently started playing musette.

A problem arises with this revival: because the revival is a recent phenomenon, unlike more common woodwind instruments such as oboe and bassoon, there is not yet a tradition among musette players to maintain and manufacture their own reeds. If a reed stops functioning, the player has to schedule a trip to the maker. Currently, there are three people worldwide who can make reeds for musettes. They have also made the material to do this themselves because nothing is available in the trade. During this demonstration, Bart Van Troyen will show the audience how the reeds are made from raw material, and how the reeds can be finished to get a beautiful sound from the instrument.


Come and take a look at how he works during this demonstration! He will also be happy to answer all your questions.


Ever since Bart Van Troyen first heard Flemish bagpipes at a folk music stage in Gooik, he was fascinated by this beautiful instrument. A few years later, while studying classical guitar at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, he got the chance to take lessons there in the new class of bagpipe and musette virtuoso Jean-Pierre Van Hees. In 2002, he was the first ever to graduate with a master’s degree in musette and bagpipes. In 2012, he also obtained a master’s degree in chamber music there.

A visit to Remy Dubois’ studio made a big impression on him. The smells and sounds of the lathe, the making of elegant valves from a simple sheet of silver…. It was only in 2013 that Remy had time to take on an apprentice. Remy taught him his craft, and in 2019 Bart opened his own workshop in Bornem. There was immediately a huge waiting list of clients, from all over the world. Simon Rickard, his first Australian client, regularly performs in Melbourne and its environs, for Ben Matus from New York he made a copy of an instrument from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum for which the owner was invited to take a photo next to the original, and Anna Besson has released a CD with her ensemble A nocte temporis on which she plays musette as well as traverso… In short, the atelier’s customers are proud of their instrument, ensuring a filled order book! The waiting time for a new musette is currently two years.


This demonstration is co-sponsored by CEMPER.


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