Chanter with detachable foot joint for the Union bagpipe

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Scottish, early 19th century

Postcard of Chanter with detachable foot joint for the Union bagpipe.
© National Museums Scotland

Chanter with detachable foot joint for the Union bagpipe

Bagpipe chanter for the Union pipe, Scottish, early 19th century. 21 inch chanter; four round closed standing silver keys; laburnum; detachable foot joint on a hemped tenon with two sound holes; a tuning rush is in the bore of the chanter. The foot joint is shown detached suggesting the evolution of the instrument into the Irish Uilleann bagpipe. 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: 000-000-579-911-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.710 (2)
Date: Early 19th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Laburnum and silver
Dimensions: 524 mm L; detachable foot joint 173 mm L
What: Bagpipe chanter
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (collection of musical instruments)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland (place of manufacture)
Description: Laburnum bagpipe chanter with four silver keys.
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