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Set of drones in a common stock

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by Nicholas Kerr, Edinburgh, 18th century

Postcard of Set of drones in a common stock.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of drones in a common stock

Set of drones in a common stock for a Union bagpipe by Nicholas Kerr of Edinburgh, 18th century. Bass drone in four sections, returning into the stock to reduce overall length and connected with a brass U-bend; fitted with a single reed of cane with a lump of wax on the tongue. Tenor drone with two joints, fitted with a single reed of cane. Yew, stained, brass mounted; the stock is marked 'NICHOLAS KERR / EDINBURGH'. Sheepskin bag cut with a long neck for the chanter, an opening for the bellows stock and repaired with a round wooden plug on one side. Baritone drone or regulator and two bass drone joints are missing. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

The Union Bagpipe was developed for chamber music and light opera performance in the early 18th century. It is a form of bellows-blown chamber bagpipe which survives today in the versatile Irish Uilleann pipe. In the early form, it was a popular and fashionable musical instrument but now it is not generally seen beyond museum collections. It had a wider melodic range than the standard bagpipe and this was achieved in the early stages by overblowing and later by adding keys to the chanter. 'Regulators', which were stopped pipes with keys and mounted with the drones, were added to the instrument in the second half of the 18th century and were used to provide chord accompaniment to the chanter. The Union Bagpipe was used for orchestral performance in the ballad opera tradition of the 18th century and later for operatic arrangements of the Ossian Cycle.

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: 000-000-579-895-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.699
Date: 18th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Stained yew, brass and sheepskin
Dimensions: Tenor drone 225 mm L; drone stock 144 mm L; bag 620 mm approx L x 190 mm approx W
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Nicholas Kerr (manufacturer)
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (place of manufacture)
Description: Stained yew and brass mounted set of drones in a common stock with sheepskin bag.
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