Set of Union or Pastoral bagpipes

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probably owned by William Mackie, Aberdeen, early 19th century

Postcard of Set of Union or Pastoral bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of Union or Pastoral bagpipes

Set of bagpipes, Scottish, early 19th century, of the type known as 'Union' or 'Pastoral' pipes. The pipes are of rosewood mounted with silver and ivory. Their owner was probably William Mackie of Aberdeen.

The Union bagpipe, often now referred to as the Uilleann pipe, is the type of instrument which is now associated principally with the piping tradition of Ireland. It is a sophisticated and complex instrument with a complicated history. It derives from a probable prototype of the early 18th century, in a bellows-blown bagpipe developed for use in chamber music and operatic performance. It would have been developed probably to provide an 'indoor' bagpipe to play with flute, violin and 'cello, and to increase the bagpipe's musical range (and appeal). It certainly became fashionable with the 'pastoral operas' of John Gay such as pre-eminently the Beggar's Opera (1728). It was then often referred to as the 'Pastoral Bagpipe'.

The chanter, designed to play in E Flat or D, had a long, narrow conical bore with a 'foot joint' extension, allowing the instrument to be overblown into a second octave. The two, three or even four drones set in a common stock, with the bass drone looped back on itself to reduce the standing length, included bass and tenor or bass, tenor and baritone. Regulators, with four or five keys, could provide chordal accompaniment to the chanter and were added to the instrument in the second half of the 18th century.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-671-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.1995.795.1 (1)
Date: Early 19th century (date of maufacture)
Material: Rosewood, silver and ivory
What: Set of Union pipes
Who: The Museum of Piping, Glasgow (place of display)
William Mackie (probable owner)
Where: Scotland (place of manufacture)
Scotland, Aberdeen (place of ownership)
Description: Set of Union or Pastoral bagpipes of rosewood mounted with silver and ivory.
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