Set of bellows-blown Lowland bagpipes

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late 18th century

Postcard of Set of bellows-blown Lowland bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of bellows-blown Lowland bagpipes

Set of bellows-blown Lowland bagpipes made in the late 18th century. Bellows were readily adapted for inflating the bagpipes, probably initially for chamber music performance in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The flow of 'caul' wind' from the bellows, as contrasting with the warmth and humidity of the player's blowing, made it easier to tune and gave the reeds a longer life. Playing the Lowland bellows pipes did not require the same stamina as playing the Great Highland Bagpipe.

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.

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Online ID: 000-000-579-678-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.1995.799 (1)
Date: Late 18th century (date of manufacture)
What: Lowland bagpipes
Who: The Museum of Piping, Glasgow (place of display)
Description: Set of bellows-blown Lowland bagpipes.
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