Have you ever wondered how do bagpipes work? I do. And if you are like me then you have always been fascinated by the bagpipes and have always wondered how these mysterious instruments work.
There has always been a somehow mythical feel surrounding the bagpipes, and while I do not believe this will ever change, we can always learn more about the bagpipes.
This article will give a breakdown of how do bagpipes work including what actions the player should take and the necessary parts of the instrument. Hopefully, this will give insight into this unique and somehow peculiar instrument.
How Do Bagpipes Work? The Importance of Air Supply
A supply of air is essential for the bagpipe to produce music. The performer first has to blow air into the blow tube which then supplies the actual bag with air. This air then pushed out the pipes to produce sound. When the player takes breathes, extra air is saved in the bag.
It can be pushed out so that sound is continuously produced. Blowing in the proper amount of air is one of the essential duties of the bagpipe player. Without enough air, the whole production of music is cut off, which makes the steps after this useless.
The Chanter Creates the Bagpipe’s Melody
The chanter is usually located on the bottom of the bagpipe and consists of a narrow tube with nine small holes on it. While breathing in air, the player also has to press down the appropriate hole(s) to produce the melody.
By either pressing or not pressing, the pitch of the sound produced is controlled. The chanter of a bagpipe is equipped with double reeds. A practice chanter is commonly used by beginners to learn to play bagpipes or by experts to practice.
You can use of the best bagpipe tutor books, including books to learn the practice chanter. This simply consists of a chanter so that a bagpipe player can practice with the breathing and the note playing the part of this instrument without having to worry about the rest.
The Drones Produce the Pipes’ Unique Sound
The drone pipes are credited with the unique but somewhat eerie tone produced by the bagpipes, and as such, they are considered to be of most importance.
The air that is produced by the player is first sent to the bag and then exits through the drone pipes. This creates the commonly known yet haunting sound. Depending upon the type of bagpipe, there is usually either two or three of this pipe.
For instance, the very recognizable Great Highland Bagpipe consists of three drones. Two of the drones, known as the tenor drones, are simply going to make the sound of the lowest note played on the chanter.
However, these drones make a deeper sound by actually playing one octave below this lowest note, also known as the fundamental note.
The other drone pipe is called the bass drone which plays one octave below the tenor drones. These three drones combined with the sound produced by the chanter make an actually quite a complex melody consisting of multiple depths of sound.
The Bag is The Heart of a Bagpipe
The bag of the bagpipe is a completely sealed reservoir where the air is stored. As mentioned above, the air enters through the blow tube and then exits either through the chanter pipe or one of the drone pipes. These bags were traditionally made from the skins of animals including goats, sheep, and cows.
In more recent years it has become increasingly common to make these bags out of synthetic materials. What is most important about these air bags is that they do not leak any air and they do not grow any mold within.
With modern technology and significantly more materials available, superior airbags are produced without any problems. This iconic piece of the bagpipe is both necessary and important in the production of a smooth, consistent sound.
I hope that this article about how do bagpipes work will give you a very basic understanding of the mysterious and unique bagpipe. With its haunting and chilling sound, it is truly iconic of the Scottish culture even though its presence was also made in other cultures and countries.
There is a rich, long tradition behind the bagpipe which makes the instrument more appealing to listen to, to learn about, and to understand. I encourage all readers to learn more about the bagpipe and its interesting connection through the history.
The bagpipe has been woven into the histories of so many countries that it has had a part in almost every important era since its creation. From its mention in The Canterbury Tales to its use in modern times, what once started as a simple way to create dance music has transformed into a symbol of strength and resilience.