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

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probably Scottish, early 19th century

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

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

Set of Lowland Scottish bagpipes, early 19th century, bellows-blown with chanter and three drones. Chanter of African blackwood with ivory sole, and ivory mount between the neck and the tenon. Three drones set in a common stock; African blackwood, ivory mounted, and turned with full beading and combing decoration. Sheepskin bag with green woollen cover. Associated with set of bellows (K.2003.686). 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: 000-000-579-881-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.685 (1)
Date: Early 19th century (date of manufacture)
Material: African blackwood, ivory, sheepskin and green wool
Dimensions: Chanter 340 mm L; bass drone 630 mm L; tenor drones 340 mm L; bellows stock 117 mm L
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, Edinburgh (probable place of manufacture)
Description: African blackwood and ivory mounted Lowland Scottish bagpipes with sheepskin bag with green woollen cover.
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