The Bagpipe

Published: 27th November 2005
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The Bagpipe

Description of the Bagpipe

The bagpipe is reed instruments that utilize an air

reservoir. The bagpipe's air reservoir directs an

uninterrupted air stream through the reeds.

Origin of the Bagpipes

The bagpipe has it's origins in antiquity. It was

found in the ancient world throughout Asia, in

North Africa, and across Europe.

A type of bagpipe is mentioned in the Old Testament

and the bagpipe is also found in Greek writings

dated in the Fifth Century BC. These bagpipes

were predecessors of the modern day bagpipe and

were probably differed from the bagpipes you see


In truth, the bagpipe's origin is obscure. The

reason may be due to the nature of the bagpipe.

The ancient bagpipe was made of wood and skin,

and thus disintegrated without leaving much of

a record. Another reason is that the bagpipe was

a commoner's, or peasant's instrument. The bagpipe

only became of interest to the nobility in modern

times, when the bagpipe was used as an instrument

of war to instill fear in the enemy.

Types of Bagpipes

There are many styles of bagpipes. These bagpipes

may feature one or two bagpipe chanters and one or

more bagpipe drones. The bagpipe reeds are in each

of the drones and chanters. The bagpipe chanter has

finger holes for playing multiple notes, while the

bagpipe drones' notes are fixed.

The various styles of bagpipes are divided into two

categories based on the method used to fill the

bagpipe's air reservoir. The Great Highland Bagpipe

player fills the reservoir by blowing with the mouth.

In the Uilleann Bagpipe, the player fills the reservoir

by pumping a bellows.

In addition to the Highland Bagpipe and the Uilleann

Bagpipe, you can also find the Medieval Bagpipe,

Medieval Smallpipe, and the Mediterranean Bagpipe.

Playing the Bagpipes

Beginner bagpipe students do not learn to play music

on the bagpipe. The beginner first learns on the

bagpipe practice chanter.

The bagpipe practice chanter has three pieces: the

mouthpiece, the shorter top body section and the

bottom body section with finger holes. Bagpipe

practice chanters are played like a whistle or

recorder. While playing, keep your fingers straight.

Do not to use the pads of your fingers, rather use

the tips. Place your fingers over all the holes,

front and back. Lifting one finger at a time plays

notes. After each practice session, take the bagpipe

practice chanter apart and shake out the moisture.

It may take six months to learn your first song

properly on the bagpipe chanter.

After becoming proficient on the bagpipe practice

chanter your next step is to learn to play the

bagpipe chanter with the bag, but without the

bagpipe drones. To do this, you assemble the bagpipe

with bag, bagpipe chanter and mouthpiece. You must

cork off the bagpipe drone stocks and play only the

bagpipe chanter. You now learn to play the pipe

chanter like you did the bagpipe practice chanter.

You also learn to blow your arm off the bag and

keep your bagpipe's tone even.

Once you achieve all of that you are ready for the

next step. You uncork the stocks and install the

bagpipe drones one at a time. Now you are ready

to play your bagpipe.

Learning the bagpipe takes time and patience, but

it is well worth your effort. When played well,

the bagpipe produces a sound that touches something

deep within us. Even people who do not like the

bagpipes are moved by the sound.

Anthony Kane

The Harp & Bagpipe

About The Author:

Looking for a Celtic Harp? How about a Bagpipe, Uilleann Pipe, or a Chanter? Perhaps a Bodhran or a Sitar is more to your taste. At The Harp & Bagpipe you'll find quality and value, and at prices that make sense. Go to

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