Scotland ~ Highlands

The Bagpipe is a musical instrument of the wind family, with two or more reed pipes
attached to and sounded by a wind chest or bag that is inflated, either by mouth or through a bellows.

The Highland pipe has a very distinct musical character, and the instrument is perhaps the loudest of all bagpipes; contributing to this are the pair of tenor drones, a feature not found on any other bagpipe and one that seems to have as its only function an increase in volume.

Similar instruments seem to have been generally known, at least throughout Europe and Asia, from a very early period.  The earliest Scottish bagpipe was probably made in 1409, except for the large drone which was introduced early in the 18th century. It was similar to the today's' Highland bagpipe.

The Scottish Highland pipe is the only form of the instrument still used in Britain. When it is played, the sound issues from three wooden pipes containing reeds of fixed tones, called drones, which furnish a continuous bass, and another reeded pipe with holes, called the chanter, which produces the melody.

The range is only 9 notes, from G in the treble clef to A above the clef. In playing, the drones are thrown over the left shoulder, the bag tucked under the left arm, and the chanter held with the fingers.

The extensive literature written for the instrument includes reels, marches, the Scottish dance known as the strathspey , and the warlike music called pibroch.

Each burgh in Scotland formerly had one or more pipers, and pipers formed a regular part of the retinue of Highland chieftains. The clan piper still plays an important part in Highland functions, and pipers are attached to all Highland regiments of the British army.

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In the very late 16th century at least some Highland Gaelic men were wearing their plaids as 'belted plaids' or 'folded plaids' (modernly called 'great kilts'), which is essentially a long blanket pleated and belted around the waist. The idea of 'clan tartans' is a 19th century concept, and that the modern small kilt is an 18th century development.

There is some possibility that Highland nobles of the 15th or 16th century would have worn Highland fashion while at home, but Lowland fashion if they visited court.

Donald B. Willis,  Cleveland, Ohio

Phone         (440)  461-3709
Cell Phone  (216)  374-5709

Keep On Piping !

Marcine Behm Petrea
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