Highland bagpipe chanter

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by Donald MacDonald, Castlehill, Edinburgh, c. 1820

Postcard of Highland bagpipe chanter.
© National Museums Scotland

Highland bagpipe chanter

Highland bagpipe chanter by Donald MacDonald, Castlehill, Edinburgh, c. 1820. Bombay rosewood, mounted with a small ivory sole; marked 'McDONALD / EDINR.'. 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.

Donald MacDonald was one of the most prominent of the early bagpipe makers, with a business in Edinburgh from about 1800 until 1840. He came from a Skye family, the son of John MacDonald of Glenhinnisdale in Trotternish. He was an expert piper and won first prize at the Edinburgh Competition in 1817. He made a variety of instruments including the Great Highland Bagpipe and Scottish bellows-blown small pipes. He was listed in the Edinburgh Post Office Directory for 1824-1825 as 'Pipemaker to the Highland Society of London' at 567 Lawnmarket and this meant that he was making prize bagpipes to be presented as prizes at the annual competitions sponsored by the Highland Society.

Donald MacDonald and other Scottish pipemakers were notable for printing and publishing music for the Great Highland Bagpipe. He published his Collection of the Ancient Martial Music of Caledonia about 1820, the first published collection of 'pibroch' music for the Highland bagpipe. This collection preserves a unique record of some aspects of Highland bagpipe playing in the distinctive style and settings of some tunes and their association with the MacArthurs (as masters and teachers of the instrument) and Clan Donald.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-956-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.747
Date: c.1820 (date of manufacture)
Material: Bombay rosewood and ivory
Dimensions: 361 mm L
Who: Donald MacDonald (manufacturer)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh, Castlehill (place of manufacture)
Event: Festival of Flanders Exhibition, 1968
Description: Bombay rosewood and ivory mounted Highland bagpipe chanter.
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