The Short History Of Bagpipes

There are few things that you can't imagine Scotland without. One of them is wood wind instrument that mostly consists of reeds and a sort of bag filled with air. What is the name of that instrument? Bagpipes of course.

We have different types of bagpipes depending on country that they were made and use in. As in all countries they are the same instruments but even the sound they give are different. The most famous bagpipes are the Scottish one. Although the history shows that bagpipes, as an instrument at all, were invented somewhere else.

First bagpipes are even recorded around 400 BC and they were made of dogskin (bag) and bones (chanters). In some sources there is said that this instrument was brought to British Isles from Rome in 8th century and became popular four hundred years later. Only a few examples of bagpipes from before 18th century left. They show that the art of making pipe wasn't developed back then.

When only appeared in Britain they started to play a great role. Specially in Scotland were pipers took place of the harpers in the 16th century. After two hundreds of years some serious studies about this instrument appeared as for example William Dixon's from Northumberland manuscript (1730). The great role of national instrument they are playing minimized when the western classical music developed and a production of instruments connected with it.

Other parts of the world got knowledge about existing of that kind of instrument thanks to expansion of British Empire. Also a large numbers of pipers were trained to be part of military service and participate in First and Second World War, were pipes become famous on the whole world. Police forces in Scotland or Canada have formed pipe bands and some of them existence till today (f.e.The Tayside Police Pipe band that was founded in 1905). In different countries (UK, New Zealand) bagpipes were used (and still are) in formal ceremonies.

Nowadays it has become a common tradition to play bagpipes for military and police funerals, often at the funerals of high-ranking civilian public officials, and at more happy gatherings as weddings, dances and parties. They are still played in a commercial and noncommercial ways. Bagpipes are also well-known in folk music. As it comes to materials and its appearance in some cases they don't differ so much as the one played in Middle Ages, made of wood and animal skins, and in other cases they are totally new - have bags made of gore tex or bring and electronic sound.

Apart from all that history side at the 21st century bagpipes are still one of the things that first appears in our mind when we think about Scotland. It is so strong image that Scotland means tartan (pattern and material), Scottish gifts (kilt, cashmere scarf), picnics spent on the warm blankets and bagpipes. The history shows that Bagpipes roots are in totally different place but Scottish people love the sound of bagpipes the most.

The best place to find unique Scottish gifts

Be the first to review this item!

Bookmark this

16 Dec 2016

By Idalia Luczak