Tuesday, July 18, 2017


While bagpipes may seem like crudely traditional instruments, there are actually several types of bagpipes--each with a distinctive character and sound. The seven types of bagpipes are: Great Highland bagpipes, Irish Uilleann bagpipes, Northumbrian bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes, Biniou, 
Center-France bagpipes, and Gaita. Great Highland bagpipes

Bagad de Lann-Bihoué
Bagad de Lann-Bihoué (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Great Highland bagpipe is probably the most popular bagpipes type. It originated from Scotland and Ireland and is commonly used by soloists and pipe bands in civilian and military performances. It is played in the mixolydian scale, from the natural low G key to the key of A, consisting of two tenor drones and one bass drone.

Irish Uilleann bagpipes The Irish Uillean bagpipe is the most advanced type of bagpipe. It is played in the diatonic scale, in the key of natural C and the key of major D. It is usually played in staccato--a type of playing that is short and rapid.

Northumbrian smallpipes The Northumbrian smallpipe is a bellows-blown type of bagpipe. It typically consists of four drones that can be tuned to various pitches and combinations. It has chanters with seven 17 keys and possesses some of the unique qualities of the Irish Uilleann bagpipes. However, it requires very tight fingering to play in staccato.

Scottish smallpipes
The Scottish small pipe is popular among highland pipers. It is also a bellow-blown type of bagpipe but has the same fingering system as the Great Highland bagpipe. It can also be mouth-blown but will not produce the same sound and tone quality because it has a delicate reed construction.

Originating from Brittany France, the Binou is designed to be mouth-blown. It is played one note above the octave scale and a flat lead tone below it. It produces a sound that is one octave higher than the Great Highland bagpipe, producing a very high pitched sound. Together with the bombarde, it is commonly used to accompany folk dancing in Breton.

Center-France bagpipes
Also known as the chevrette, the Cenetr-France bagpipe is made of goatskin and is also a mouth-blown instrument. It is commonly used in the Bourbonnais, Morvan, and Nivernais regions of France.

Gaita The Gaita is played by pipe bands and folk groups, usually in some regions of Portugal, and particularly in Asturias. It has a conical chanter and can be played in the key of D, C sharp, C, B flat, B, A, and G.

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