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Set of drones in a common stock for a set of bellows-blown or Union bagpipes

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Scottish, 18th century

Postcard of Set of drones in a common stock for a set of bellows-blown or Union bagpipes.
© National Museums Scotland

Set of drones in a common stock for a set of bellows-blown or Union bagpipes

Set of drones in a common stock with tenor and bass drone only, for a set of Scottish bellows-blown bagpipes or Union pipe, 18th century. Bass drone in four sections, the first two turned and mounted as drone top joints and linked by a connecting pipe between the tops and returning the sounding length through the stock. Tenor drone with two joints. Temperate hardwood, stained and polished, bone mounts and brass ferrules. 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.

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Online ID: 000-000-579-896-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.700
Date: 18th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Stained and polished temperate hardwood, bone and brass
Dimensions: Bass drone 829 mm approx L; tenor drone 408 mm approx L; drone stock 159 mm L x 156 mm Dia
What: Set of drones in a common stock
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
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 (place of manufacture)
Description: Stained and polished temperate hardwood and bone mounted set of drones in a common stock.
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