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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 15 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

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


GREAT HIGHLAND BAGPIPE
(A' PHIOB MHOR)
Scotland ~ Highlands
conical bore chanter with double-blade reed; 3 cylindrical bore drones with single-blade reeds



General Comments:

The Great Higland Bagpipe, while far from the oldest surviving bagpipe and while originally not at all widespread geographically, is without question the best-known instrument of the bagpipe family. Even otherwise musically informed people often express surprise when they learn that there are other sorts of bagpipes. This is in part due to the vibrant culture that has always surrounded this instrument in its Scottish home, and in part to its enthusiastic export by Scottish (not to mention English and Irish) emmigrants throughout the world. It is also due to its extensive use as a military instrument, a chore not performed to any signficant extent by any other bagpipe. Today there are large numbers of Highland pipers in all parts of the world, even Asia. There exists a tremendous amount of easily available information about the instrument, in print, film, recordings and lately on the World Wide Web.


Musical Notes:



The Higland pipe has a very distinct musical character, and the instrument is perhaps the loudest of all bagpipes; contributing to this are the pair of tenor drones, duplicates of one another - a feature not found on any other bagpipe and one that seems to have as its only function an increase in volume. The pipe in this collection is in the key of A (at 440hz) rather than the more modern and ubiquitous B-flat (more on this below).


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


The Great Highland Bagpipe being played by Sean Folsom.
Visually, the difference between the modern chanter in B-flat , top, and the classic lower-pitched chanter in A, bottom, is minimal.

Some pipers feel that the upward shift in pitch of the Great Highland Bagpipe, which took place in relatively recent times primarily to adapt the instrument to playing along with military brass bands, is detrimental to its sound. At the least it points to the fact that after all is said and done, bagpipes are fundamentally solo instruments and that to alter a bagpipe to acommodate other instruments can result in controversy.

The reed configuration of the GHB (as the pipe is sometimes and somewhat awkwardly referred to) are completely conventional in relation to a large number of its continental predecessors.


Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2002, Oliver Seeler,

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