Monday, April 4, 2016

The Art of the Piper

Saturday I was at the Highland Games and surrounded by one of the most beautiful sounds. Bagpipes. My Mother listened to bagpipe music on vinyl when I was growing up so they have been a part of my life all my life.

Bagpipes have been played for centuries and not just in the Highlands. You can find them in Turkey, North Africa, North America, the area around the Persian Gulf and throughout Europe.

A set of pipes usually has a bag (for air), a chanter (the part played - it looks a wee bit like a recorder), and at least one drone (it sustains one note throughout a piece of music).  The Great Highland Bagpipes are more commonly seen. Pastoral Pipes are similar except for the pipers use a bellows to inflate the air bag.

Emperor Nero is said to have played an instrument very similar to a bagpipe.  The Canterbury Tales which were written about 1380 mention the bagpipes many times.  

Animals playing bagpipes can be seen on the edges of medieval manuscripts, 

                   Cat playing the bagpipe from the Book of Hours - Rome 1460

angels playing pipes are seen as decorative work on Cathedrals and monasteries. 
                              Medieval Bagpiper at Monastery of Santes Creus, Catalonia, Spain

Bagpipes are used in Battles much like bugles or trumpets are. They were used during the American Revolution, World War I and WWII to pipe the soldiers into battle. 

This week enjoy The Art of the Piper.

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