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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 1 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

For more information on the album click on the cover at left

Czech Republic - Bohemia

cylindrical-bore chanter, single-blade reed; one folded cylindrical-bore drone, single-blade reed

Sound Sample in .MP3 format

sound samples copyright 1999 by Oliver Seeler & Sean Folsom

General Comments:

The Bohemian Bock is a classic Germanic/Slavic bagpipe showing a variety of influences and interesting features. The cow-horn bells on this example are typical, as is the goat-skin bag and carved goat's-head chanter stock. The middle drone section is "folded" - the bore runs back and forth within, three times, thus making the drone much more compact than it would be otherwise. A drawback of this feature is that there is no tuning slide on the drone, and so it must be tuned by altering the reed's pitch and position. Fortunately for the piper, reeds in bellows-blown pipes are more stable than those in mouth-blown instruments, which mitigates somewhat this lack of a more conventional tuning device.

Musical Notes:

The scales and key signatures given may be regarded as approximations; bagpipes may deviate from conventional standards in absolute and relative pitch.

The Bohemian Bock being played by Sean Folsom: The advantage of the folded drone is apparent here, making the instrument quite compact. Note that the bellows being used is not the same as that in the main photo above - that bellows is undergoing restoration, which provided an opportunity to photograph its interior construction (see photo below).
The wonderfully carved goat's head which serves as a chanter stock.

Many Eastern European bagpipes employ carved goat's-heads as chanter stocks.
The folded section of the drone. This feature together with the over-the-shoulder joints of the drone makes what would otherwise be an unmanageably long pipe very compact.

Note the concentric circles engraved on the brass, both here and elsewhere on this bagpipe; these are "godess eyes" and are intended to ward off the "evil eye" or evil spirits. These are found on a number of bagpipes.
Interior view of the original bellows of this pipe, in the course of restoration.

Bellows have several advantages over the more common method of operation, by lung and mouth. Perhaps most importantly, they provide dry air at ambient temperature to the reeds, which makes the pipe much more stable.
The chanter reed. This is a composite-type single reed, that is, the tongue is a seperate part tied onto the body. The beeswax on the tongue is a tuning device commonly used on many sorts of single-reed pipes - the added mass of the wax slows the vibration of the tongue, thus lowering its pitch.

Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2002, Oliver Seeler,

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