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Bagpipe chanter for a set of Lowland Scottish bagpipes

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by William Mark, Aberdeen, late 18th or early 19th century

Bagpipe chanter for a set of Lowland Scottish bagpipes
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Lowland Scottish bagpipe chanter by William Mark of Aberdeen, late 18th or early 19th century. Laburnum with bone mounts. The C and E fingerholes show signs of having been enlarged, and the thumbhole is irregularly countersunk with a shallow slot carved across it. This is consistent with the technique of 'pinching' to achieve a higher note in the scale. The maker's name, barely legible as 'Wm. MARK / ABDN', is marked on the front of the chanter below the sound holes. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

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.

This piece comes from the Glen and Ross Collection of musical instruments which were preserved in the shop of 'J & R Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers' until it closed about 1978. This was the business founded in 1827 by Thomas McBean Glen in the Cowgate in Edinburgh, dealing in and repairing musical instruments. His brother, Alexander Glen, specialized in bagpipe-making and was succeeded by his son David. Thomas' sons, John and Robert Glen, succeeding to the business in 1866, probably did most to collect instruments and their antiquarian interests were carried on by Andrew Ross who acquired the business from the Glens in 1947. The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland purchased the bagpipe collections from the family in 1983.

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