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Chanter reeds for a set of Union bagpipes

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owned by William Mackie, 19th century

Postcard of Chanter reeds for a set of Union bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Chanter reeds for a set of Union bagpipes

Chanter reeds consisting of two blades of cane bound onto a staple for a set of Union bagpipes (H.1995.795.1) that belonged to William Mackie.

A strong type of cane, Arundo Donax, both farmed and naturally grown, is favoured for making reeds for bagpipes as well as for other musical wind instruments. The drone reed, a so-called 'single reed', uses the whole body of the cane. The same cane is also cut into thin blades to make into chanter reeds, the so-called 'double reed'.

The cane is cut into lengths, longer lengths and larger bodied cane supplying bass drone reeds, one end is blocked off at a natural division within the cane; the 'blade' is cut horizontally and this produces a 'tongue' which vibrates freely in the flow of air from the bag into the drones. The cane reed is 'seated' in the bottom end of the drone.

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Online ID: 000-000-579-838-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2002.1367.6.3, 5, 6
Material: Cane
Dimensions: 74 mm approx L x 11 mm approx W
What: Chanter reeds
Description: Union or Lowland bagpipe chanter reeds of cane bound onto a staple.
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