Regulator for providing a chord accompaniment for a set of bagpipes

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possibly by Hugh Robertson, Edinburgh, late 18th century

Postcard of Regulator for providing a chord accompaniment for a set of bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Regulator for providing a chord accompaniment for a set of bagpipes

Regulator for providing a chord accompaniment for a set of bagpipes, Scottish, late 18th century. Four closed brass keys modelled as scallop shells; the tailpieces are numbered I - IIII. Boxwood, ivory mounted. This piece is similar in style to a set of drones (K.2003.702) and may be the work of Hugh Robertson of Edinburgh. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

A regulator is a stopped pipe whose reed only sounds when one of the keys is pressed. Added to bellows-blown chamber bagpipes after about 1750, the Regulator provided chordal accompaniment to the chanter. This sweeter sounding bagpipe, also known as the Union or Pastoral pipes, was developed for chamber music performance and for ballad-operas such as The Gentle Shepherd (1725) and The Beggar's Opera (1728) and was a popular accompaniment for operatic performances of the Ossian Cycle at the end of the 18th century.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-899-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.703 (1)
Date: Late 18th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Boxwood, ivory and brass
Dimensions: 301 mm L
What: Regulator for a set of bagpipes
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
Hugh Robertson (possible manufacturer)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (possible place of manufacture)
Description: Boxwood and ivory mounted regulator for a set of bagpipes.
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