Bagpipe bellows

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possibly from the small museum at Tarland, Aberdeenshire

Postcard of Bagpipe bellows.
© National Museums Scotland

Bagpipe bellows

Set of bellows for bagpipes consisting of two outer boards of beechwood with a leather diaphragm stitched flush between them. The leather air outlet on the inside board has a wooden connecting pipe tied with cord and there are two brass staples on the inside board to hold a waist belt. This set of bellows may have come from the small museum at Tarland.

Bellows have long been used as an alternative means of supplying air for playing bagpipes. The dry air is less damaging to the reeds. A small set of bellows with leather stitched to two wooden boards is usually strapped round the player's waist, and the outer board with an inlet valve tied to the player's arm at the elbow is drawn out and compressed slowly to maintain a steady supply of air to the reeds through a connecting pipe into the bag. Bellows had been used to supply air to the organ since the medieval period and we have sure evidence for their use with bagpipes from the early 17th century.

Bellows have remained in use for example with French bagpipes, the Uilleann pipe of Ireland, the Northumbrian pipes, Scottish Lowland and small pipes, as well as in bagpipes in Eastern Europe.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-700-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.LT 108
Material: Beechwood, leather, brass and cord
Dimensions: 240 mm L x 150 mm W
Where: Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Tarland
Description: Bagpipe bellows comprising two outer boards of beechwood with a stitched leather diaphragm.
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