Dancing to the Pipes

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18th century

Postcard of Dancing to the Pipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Dancing to the Pipes

Dancing in the Pipes as shown is a woodcut used to decorate the title page of a chapbook printed in Falkirk, about 1800. The scene showing a couple dancing to the music of a seated piper is used to illuminate 'The Excellent Old Scots Song of the Blaeberry Courtship', and represents the culture of Lowland piping in the 18th century.

Chapbook literature, produced in penny booklet form at the rate of more than 200,000 a year by the early 19th century, was the most common and popular reading matter in Scotland. They included songs, ballads, popular history, tales and legends and reflect a high level of literacy and lively popular culture in Scotland. They were distributed by packmen or 'chapmen' and peddlers.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-575-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 3.1
Date: 18th century (publication date)
Where: Scotland, Falkirk (place of publication)
Description: Dancing to the Pipes.
  • The Excellent Old Scots Song of the Blaeberry Courtship. 18th century
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