Set of bellows-blown Union bagpipes

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possibly made in Edinburgh, c. 1790

Postcard of Set of bellows-blown Union bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of bellows-blown Union bagpipes

Set of 'Union' bagpipes of the late 18th century, bellows-blown, possibly made in Edinburgh, of tropical and temperate hardwoods with ivory stocks, brass and ivory-mounted, with chanter, and with three drones and a regulator set in a common stock. The three drones include bass with a return section, tenor and treble, and the regulator has four keys. The style of the instrument, with a single regulator and with 'tulip' shaped drone tops, suggests an Edinburgh maker and a date about 1790.

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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-580-024-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.830 (1)
Date: c.1790 (date of manufacture)
Material: Tropical hardwood, temperate hardwood, ivory and brass
What: Set of Union bagpipes.
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (possibe place of manufacture)
Description: Set of Union bagpipes made of tropical and temperate hardwoods with ivory stocks, brass and ivory mounted.
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