The Bagpipe

Scottish Bagpipe Music

The Bagpipes are considered the pre-eminent instrument in Scotland today. They have a nine note chanter, two tenor drones and a bass drone. The instrument is found in all walks of life; clan society, army, community, pipe bands and with the ordinary people and pupils in schools. The Scottish Bagpipes are now found all over the world and have even reached places such as Oman where the Sultan has his own pipe band trained by Scottish pipers.

Since the 1980’s a number of bellows blown pipes have seen a revival in Scotland. This has enabled pipers to play with other musicians more easily and has been a major influence in the new bands emmerging in the last few years.

Chanter notes are G A B Csharp D E Fsharp G A (the C sharp is flatter than the tempered scale and the A of the chanter is close to B flat). The practice chanter is unique to Scottish and Spanish piping. It is the same length as the bagpipe chanter but sounds an octave lower. There are two major categories of bagpipe music.

Cèol Mor - big music - piobaireachd- theme and variations. Cèol beag - little music - dance music, marches, strathspeys and reels, jigs and hornpipes. Earliest resources of Scottish Highland Bagpipe music concern the MacCrimmons in the 16th century on Skye. It has been said that the origins of pipe music may lie in the harp tradition which was around before the pipes and is said to have been stolen by the pipers and fiddlers. The Highland Bagpipes are a still a strong cultural emblem from Scots to the rest of the world.

See books “The Bagpipe Tutor” on our catalogue and the “The Patrick McDonald Collection” for some older pipe tunes.