Chanter for the Highland bagpipe

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by Peter Henderson, Glasgow, late 19th century

Postcard of Chanter for the Highland bagpipe.
© National Museums Scotland

Chanter for the Highland bagpipe

Chanter for the Highland bagpipe, missing the sole, late 19th century, made by Peter Henderson of Glasgow.

The Highland bagpipe may have been made from native hardwoods such as laburnum or elder, either in the Highlands or in the Lowland burghs. We know little of this trade until the 18th century; from the 1760s we learn about one or two professional makers in Edinburgh and Glasgow such as Hugh Robertson. Their businesses were well situated to obtain raw materials coming off ships trading into the Clyde and Forth, and tropical hardwoods from the Caribbean and African Continent, suitable for turning into musical instruments, came to be preferred for bagpipe making. The number of makers grew significantly in the second half of the 19th century, supplying particularly a demand from pipers in the army and pipe bands. The use of the Great Highland Bagpipe in the army, the development of civilian pipe bands and the growing significance of competition meant that the instrument began to take on a fixed and standard form and proportions, for example with its wide bored chanter and bass and two tenor drones. Skilled craftsmen, often wood turners by profession, began to make the instrument more or less to a fixed pattern and added their decoration of 'beading' and 'combing' which was adopted probably by the late 18th century and has remained unchanged since then.

Peter Henderson (1851-1903) came from Inverkeithing though his family was originally from Latheronwheel in Caithness. He took over the bagpipe-making shop in Glasgow of Robert MacKinnon who had earlier taken over the premises of Donald Macphee. Henderson had set up business in 1868, was himself a very good piper and became Pipe Major of the Glasgow Volunteers. His bagpipes have always had a very high reputation.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-625-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  Chanter.2
Date: Late 19th century (date of manufacture)
What: Chanter
Who: Peter Henderson (manufacturer)
Where: Scotland, Glasgow (place of manufacture)
Description: Chanter for a set of Highland bagpipes, by Peter Henderson, Glasgow, late 19th century.
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