Set of drones with bass drone and tenor drone set in a single stock

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possibly by Hugh Robertson, Edinburgh, late 18th century

Postcard of Set of drones with bass drone and tenor drone set in a single stock.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of drones with bass drone and tenor drone set in a single stock

Set of drones, Scottish, late 18th century, with bass drone and tenor drone set in a single stock for a set of bellows-blown bagpipes or Union pipe. Tenor drone of two joints. Bass drone looped to reduce the overall size of the instrument, with four pipes or sections, two of which are joined with a brass U-bend. Stock in two sections, the lower section turned out to accommodate three reeds. Temperate hardwood, brass and ivory mounted. Bass drone ivory bell top missing, and the other position in the stock may have held a regulator. This set is similar in style to a regulator (K.2003.703), and may possibly be the work of Hugh Robertson of Edinburgh. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

The Union bagpipe was developed for chamber music and light opera performance in the early 18th century. It is a form of bellows-blown chamber bagpipe which survives today in the versatile Irish Uilleann pipe. In the early form, it was a popular and fashionable musical instrument but now it is not generally seen beyond museum collections. It had a wider melodic range than the standard bagpipe and this was achieved in the early stages by overblowing and later by adding keys to the chanter. 'Regulators', which were stopped pipes with keys and mounted with the drones, were added to the instrument in the second half of the 18th century and were used to provide chord accompaniment to the chanter. The Union Bagpipe was used for orchestral performance in the ballad opera tradition of the 18th century and later for operatic arrangements of the Ossian Cycle.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-898-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.702
Date: Late 18th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Temperate hardwood, brass and ivory
Dimensions: Tenor drone 528 mm L; bass drone 800 mm approx L; stock 160 mm L overall
What: Set of drones, including tenor and bass
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
Hugh Robertson (possible manufacturer)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (possible place of manufacture)
Description: Temperate hardwood, brass and ivory mounted set of drones.
Related Records:
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