Set of bellows-blown Lowland Scottish bagpipes with chanter and drones

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probably Scottish, late 18th century

Postcard of Set of bellows-blown Lowland Scottish bagpipes with chanter and drones.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of bellows-blown Lowland Scottish bagpipes with chanter and drones

Set of Lowland Scottish bagpipes, late 18th century, bellows-blown with chanter and drones. 15 1/4 inch chanter, probably in G, of fruitwood mounted with an ivory sole. Stock mounted with bone and horn ferrules. Three drones are set in a common stock; fruitwood, ivory mounted, plainly turned. The set of bellows is missing. Short deep bag of canvas material with a sheepskin welt sewn over the seam. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

The Lowland pipes, or Border bagpipe, was a distinctive instrument by the 18th century. It has a chanter and three drones - two tenors and a bass - and sounded and tuned as the Great Highland bagpipe but would generally not have produced such a strident and carrying sound. A distinguishing characteristic was the mounting of the three drones in a common stock, and the use of bellows strapped under the arm to provide a supply of air. Such a bagpipe would sometimes be described as a 'cauld wind pipe', in contrast to the mouth-blown bagpipe in which the player's breath was hot and lurid. The lowland pipes were the instrument favoured by the Town or Burgh Piper of Lowland Scotland.

This piece comes from the Glen and Ross Collection of musical instruments which were preserved in the shop of 'J & R Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers' until it closed about 1978. This was the business founded in 1827 by Thomas McBean Glen in the Cowgate in Edinburgh, dealing in and repairing musical instruments. His brother, Alexander Glen, specialized in bagpipe-making and was succeeded by his son David. Thomas' sons, John and Robert Glen, succeeding to the business in 1866, probably did most to collect instruments and their antiquarian interests were carried on by Andrew Ross who acquired the business from the Glens in 1947. The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland purchased the bagpipe collections from the family in 1983.

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Online ID: 000-000-579-690-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.684 (1)
Date: Late 18th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Fruitwood, ivory, horn, canvas and sheepskin
Dimensions: Chanter 386 mm L; bass drone 651 mm L overall; tenor drones 320 mm L overall; bag 340 mm x 280 mm approx
What: Set of Lowland Scottish bagpipes
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland (probable place of manufacture)
Description: Fruitwood and ivory mounted Lowland Scottish bagpipes with canvas bag with a sheepskin welt.
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