Engraving of an orchestra

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of Union Pipe, Violin and Cello, in Edinburgh, 1787, by Charles Ewart after Stewart Watson

Postcard of Engraving of an orchestra.
© National Museums Scotland

Engraving of an orchestra

Engraving by Charles Ewart after the painting by Stewart Watson of the 'Inauguration of Robert Burns as Poet Laureate of the Lodge of Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh, 1st March 1787'. The Masonic Lodge in St. John Street, Canongate, Edinburgh, is shown to have had a musician's gallery, here occupied by a piper, a fiddler and a cellist. The piper, a 'gentleman amateur', is shown playing the Union Pipes.

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.

Robert Burns' arrival in Edinburgh in 1786 after the publication of the 'Kilmarnock Edition' of his poetry introduced him to Edinburgh society, to Edinburgh Freemasonry and to Edinburgh taverns. Meeting the engraver and publisher James Johnson (visible on the lower edge of the image), Burns began the remarkable collecting of folk music and collaboration with James Johnson which created the "Scots Musical Museum" (1787 - 1803).

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Online ID: 000-000-579-553-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  Bagpipe Archive 1.6
Date: 1 March 1787 (date of event)
Who: Charles Watson (engraver)
James Johnson (depicted)
Robert Burns (depicted)
Stewart Watson (delineator)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (depicted)
Event: Inauguration of Robert Burns as Poet Laureate of the Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, Edinburgh (depicted)
Description: Engraving of an orchestra.
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