Facts on Bagpipes

By Bethney Foster

Played in king’s courts and during presidential processions, the bagpipe likely originated among peasants, farmers and gypsies. While the bagpipes within Irish and Scottish traditional music are best known, bagpipes and bagpipe-type instruments are also found in several other cultures, including some in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

History

Bagpipes can be traced to ancient times. The instrument was likely invented by shepherds and is mentioned in the Bible. Historians believe the instrument originated in Sumaria.

Parts

A bagpipe includes a drone, bag, chanter, mouthpiece and double reeds. The chanter is the melody pipe and includes finger holes. The drones include tuning joints.

Function

By squeezing the bag with his left hand and taking a breath, the piper moves air through the pipes and chanter. The piper tries to provide a steady flow of air to the reeds on the chanter and drone.

Purpose

Bagpipes originally provided music for dancing in most cultures. Bagpipes now are included in musical performances, played during ceremonies and have enjoyed a resurgence with the popularity of traditional and folk music.

Types

There are many types of bagpipes and many cultures have bagpipe-type instruments. Among the best-known types are the Great Highland Pipes and Irish Uillean Bagpipes.

About the Author

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.