Love it or hate it, bagpipe music is distinctive, and not to be confused with any other instrument. On July 27, we celebrate its unique sound.
According to Henderson’s history, the bagpipe did not originate in Scotland. Instead, it started in the Middle East and moved west with settlers. The first documented bagpipe is found on a Hittite slab at Eyuk, and we find a bagpipe in the third chapter of Daniel where the “symphonia” in Nebuchadnezzar’s band is believed to have been a bagpipe. The first of what we might recognize as a modern type bagpipe is from Roman times. In fact, pictures of Nero show him playing a bagpipe, not a fiddle. Later they moved to France, and then to England, where they then became a Celtic instrument.
Modern bagpipes feature three pipes emerging from a bag typically made of elk or sheep skin. This bag holds air, and when squeezed, releases the air through the pipes. The bagpiper uses a fourth pipe to control the pitch, much like a flute or oboe. As the Print is not Dead site describes it, “But to true, full blooded aficionados the great booming drones and shrill piercing beauty of such a mad sonical device can inspire only one word: Epic.” I tend to agree.
From their site, you can go to a page where you can create your own tartan, in case you really want to get into the spirit of the day. You can also find links to multiple examples of bagpipe music on YouTube, including a couple that are an hour long. Of course, there is also the haunting “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. To hear the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, click here, though they are only one of many renditions.
So be sure to listen to some bagpipe music today!
Quotes about bagpipes (some are rather rude!)
How little is required for pleasure! The sound of a bagpipe – without music, life would be an error.–Friedrich Nietzsche
Scottish bagpipe has two tenors and one bass – three drone pipes – and then the one chanter. If you put bagpipes together, it creates such a fine sound.–Yoshi Wada
These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equalled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.–Alfred Hitchcock
When you’ve heard one bagpipe tune, you’ve heard them both.–Jack Finney
The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven’t seen the joke yet.–Oliver Herford
I got to try the bagpipes. It was like trying to blow an octopus.–James Galway
There’s always something in most world folk musics that always seems connected; whether it’s a bagpipe or a tambura, there’s always some sort of drone instrument, and there’s always percussion.–Paul Weller
The sound of one of our country pipes, which I had played by one of my sailors, also caused wonderment. Seeing that it was decked out with trappings and ribbons at the head, they concluded that it was a living animal that sang thus in different voices, and were much pleased with it. Perceiving that they were misled, I told them it was an instrument, and placed it deflated in their hands. Whereupon, recognising that it was made by hand, they said that it was a divine instrument, made by God with his own hands, for it sounded so sweetly and in so many different voices. They said they had never heard anything sweeter.–G. R. Crone
So long as there are bagpipers, there will be free people.–Unknown
When I hear the bagpipes, it makes the hairs on my neck stand on end. It always makes me weep.–Ashley Jensen
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