Scottish Bagpipes

Scotland boasts three different forms of bagpipe, Highland Pipes are the ones most people are familiar with, marching, drummers, military tattoos, kilts, etc. These pipes aren’t exactly “session friendly” but they do have a major influence on the sound of Scottish music played on most instruments. For folkier pipe tunes, listen to Gordon Duncan (a fantastic composer whose pipe tunes are constantly leaking into sessions)

Lowland (Border or Reel) Pipes are usually bellows blown (but not always) and have the drones mounted in a common stock. They have the same quality of tone from the chanter from the chanter but have a more “indoors” volume than the Highland pipes. These pipes are generally in the key of A and some chanters have a few note keys to extend the range of notes available. Listen to Fred Morrison to hear these in action.

Scottish Small Pipes are much quieter and because the chanter has a straighter hole up the middle (when compared to the tapered, conical bore of Highland and Border pipes) they have a much softer mellow tone. Usually bellows blown, they come in various keys, A is the most common and versatile, D are the next most common with others available. Many makers now make A/D sets with four drones and interchangeable chanters to make switching between the two easier. Listen to Hamish Moore.

The important thing to note is all these different types of Scottish bagpipe use the same fingering patterns. If you are interested in learning, starting with the finger basics on Highland pipes is the best pathway to learning the Border or Small Pipes. See our external links page to find out how to contact one of Tasmania’s regional pipe bands.

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