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Bagpipe chanter for the Uilleann pipes

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by Malcolm MacGregor, London, early 19th century

Bagpipe chanter for the Uilleann pipes
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Bagpipe chanter for the Uilleann pipes by Malcolm MacGregor of London, early 19th century. 14 1/2 inch chanter. Four square flat closed silver keys. Ebony with ivory mounts on the tenon and foot, and a silver ferrule on the foot; marked 'McGREGOR / LONDON'. The top fingerhole is drilled obliquely to accommodate the stretch of the fingers. This chanter may be associated with the set of drones (K.2003.722). Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

The Irish bagpipe, known today as the Uilleann pipes was developed by bagpipe makers in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was based on the earlier Pastoral and Union Pipes which were used in the pastoral dramas and ballad operas of the 18th century. In this form, it was always a bellows-blown instrument and originally had a long or 'flat' chanter and two drones in a common stock. The tonal range could be extended for orchestral performance by cross-fingering and overblowing. In the late 18th century, keys were added to the chanter to increase the melodic range and regulators were added to the drones to provide chordal accompaniment to the chanter.

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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