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bagpipe family

bagpipe family. Forms of the bagpipe have existed for at least 3,000 years and it is known to many races in Europe and Asia. Machaut (1300–77) mentions bagpipes in a description of one of his own polyphonic works. Its essentials are that (a) It is a reed-pipe instr. and (b) Interposed between the medium supplying the wind and the reed-pipe is a bag serving as a reservoir and so preventing any undesired breaking of the flow of sound by the player's necessity to take breath.

Variable characteristics are: (c) The source of the wind-supply to the reservoir may be either by mouth or by a small bellows held under the arm. (d) The reed-pipe (chanter) from which the various notes of the tune are obtained by means of a series of holes or keys may, or may not, be acc. by 1 or more other reed-pipes each confined to a single note (drones), these being tuned to the Tonic or Tonic and Dominant of the key of the instr. (e) The reed may be either single, like that of the cl. family, or double like that of the ob. family; in practice the chanter reed is usually (perhaps always) double, while the drone reeds vary in different types of instr.

The compass of nearly all bagpipes is limited to an octave but on some few types a 2nd octave can be obtained.

Brit. forms of the instr. are: 1. Scottish highland bagpipe, or great pipe, mouth-blown and possessing a conical-bore chanter and 3 drones (2 tuned to a′ and 1 to a). The tone is penetrating and best heard in the open air; the chanter scale is of D major but extends from a′ with a G and with the C and F pitched between sharp and natural. 2. Scottish lowland bagpipe is much the same as the foregoing but bellows-blown. 3. Northumbrian bagpipe is also bellows-blown but sweet and gentle in tone and normal as to scale (G major); it has usually 4 drones; its chanter pipes are end-stopped, so that when the player closes all the finger-holes at once sound from them ceases, making possible a characteristic crisp staccato. 4. Irish ‘Union’ bagpipe (the assertion that the word is a corruption of villean is unfounded). This is bellows-blown and sweet in tone; it has 3 drones. Its scale is nearly chromatic. Foreign terms for the bagpipe are: Fr. musette; Ger. Dudelsack, Sackpfeife; It. piva, zampogna; Sp. gaita.

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