What are they?
The bagpipes consist of a blow stick, a chanter, 3 drones, and a bag. The blow stick is how the piper gets air into the bag. The bag acts as a reservoir of air and also holds the drones, blow stick, and chanter together. Air exits the bag into either the drones or the chanter. There are two tenor drones and one bass drone. The drones provide the distinctive humming background noise heard. The air in the bag also exits to the chanter. The chanter is held by the piper's hands and is the part that creates the melody.
It has four reeds and can be difficult to keep in tune with changing weather. It can be a chore to get one set of pipes in tune with it self and getting a whole band to play in tune can sometimes seem impossible!
Q: How do you get two pipers to play in tune?
A: Shoot one of them! (only kidding....)
Where are they from?
Legend has it that the Irish invented the bagpipes and gave them to the Scots. A more reliable explanation is that the bagpipe originated in ancient Egypt where a simple chanter and drone were played together. Later, the Greeks and Romans also played this instrument with an added bag made of skin. (Information from The College of Piping, New Revised Edition, 1955.)
Interested in playing?
The bagpipes are a difficult instrument to begin playing and can be equated to wrestling with an octopus. The bagpipes are also a very rewarding instrument to play once they are mastered. It is easier to learn how to play the younger you are, but enough dedication and practice and anyone will be able to play this amazing instrument. If you would like to start playing the pipes, contact Mike regarding lessons. He would be happy to point you in the direction of a bagpipe teacher or bagpipe band.