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Profile of the Bagpipe


Profile of the Bagpipe


Photo Courtesy of Neil Gould

Name of Instrument:




How to Play:

The musician must fill the bag with air by blowing into a pipe. Lung-power is important in playing the bagpipes as you not only need to fill the bag with air but must learn how to maintain it. In bellows-blown bagpipes, the musician creates melody through finger holes and by moving the bellows with his arms. In the case of mouth-blown pipes (e.g. Highland bagpipes), there is a bag but no bellows. The player creates the melody through making different fingerings on the chanter.


The bagpipe is one of the oldest reed instruments, it is generally associated to Scotland but existed way back during ancient civilization. Bagpipes are used in festivities as well as marching bands. There are two main types: mouth-blown bagpipes, played by blowing air into it by mouth, and bellows-blown bagpipe, the air is supplied by bellows.

First Known Bagpipes:

Early forms of bagpipes existed in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. The bag was made of animal skin or the stomach of a bigger animal. It used to have three parts: a chanter or tube, a bag and a valved tube to prevent the return of air. It is from this form that the modern bagpipes evolved.

Bagpipe Players:

Some well-known players are: Eric Riggler (uilleann & Highland bagpipe player, played at Ronald Regan's funeral, played all the piping on Braveheart), Rufus Harley, Jack & brother Terry Lee, Neil Dickie, Fred Morrision, Mark Saul, Martynn Bennett, Stuart Cassells, Gordon Duncan and Bruce Gandy.

Additional Bagpipe Resource:

Additional Information:

My gratitude to Don P. Scobie, another notable bagpipe player, who graciously gave me additional information on the bagpipes.

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