Swedish Bagpipes? When you think of bagpipes, the first countries that come to mind are probably Ireland and Scotland. As it turns out, however, you can find bagpipes throughout the world.
From Europe to Northern Africa and Asia, this instrument has played a pivotal role in the cultural development of many nations and civilizations. The first known bagpipes originated somewhere in Asia. At this time, they weren’t quite as elaborate as the bagpipes that are around today.
Instead, they were much simpler in design and were used primarily for accompaniment. Over time, as cultures went to war or traded back and forth with one another, these unique instruments eventually found their way to many different European countries.
Before You Continue Reading about the Swedish Bagpipes…
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The earliest known reference to bagpipes in European countries is in Germany’s the Black Forest. A woodcut from around 1000 A.D. that is located in St. Blasien’s cloister depicts a pair of musicians playing a primitive form of bagpipes. Unlike modern bagpipes, these early versions didn’t have a drone pipe.
During the 1400s and 1500s, the popularity of these instruments grew throughout all of Europe. As more and more people started playing them, new styles of bagpipes were introduced. The craftsmanship that went into making the instruments also improved. It was around this time that the first drone pipes started to appear.
The History of the Swedish Bagpipes
The Swedish bagpipes first appeared sometime around the early 1500s. Artwork located in Gotland’s Martebo Church shows evidence of these instruments from this period. In the 1600s, the evidence of bagpipes in this part of the world becomes even stronger.
Paintings throughout the country’s many churches depict Swedish bagpipes, demonstrating that the instruments had become a major part of Sweden’s culture by that point in time.
According to Olaus Magnus, a well-known Swedish writer, the Swedish bagpipes were used by herdsmen and by Nordic cultures when dancing and celebrating. As it turns out, this is how bagpipes were used in other parts of the world as well.
The Popularity of Bagpipes in Sweden
The popularity of bagpipes in Sweden seems to have peaked between the 1500s and the 1800s. It wasn’t until partway through the 1800s that they began to fade from the limelight, being replaced by more modern types of instruments such as the fiddle.
The style of music changed during this time. The relatively harsh sound of the bagpipes no longer fit with the gentle, soothing sound of the music, which is why they became less popular.
That’s not to say, however, that people still weren’t enjoying bagpipes during these later time periods. In fact, in the late 1800s, bagpipes enjoyed a resurgence in the Vasterdalalven area. The design of the bagpipes during this time typically had a single drone. Some sets, however, also included a fake drone that was there primarily for show.
The Many Names of the Swedish Bagpipes
Over the years, bagpipes were called many different things. From names like dramba and posue to koppe and balgpipa, the words used to describe these instruments have varied based on the style of the instrument, the location, and the term.
The most prevalent use of bagpipes in Sweden was in the Jarna area. These instruments were popular there from the start and managed to maintain their popularity throughout the years.
In fact, as Jarna’s workers gathered and floated logs on the Vasterdal River, they were often accompanied by bagpipers. Interestingly, there are also a couple of famous female bagpipe players from this area – a mother and daughter known as Or Anna and Hol Britta.
Today, bagpipes are back in style in Sweden. They began regaining their popularity sometime in the 1940s. You can find modern styles of bagpipes manufactured by Per Gudmundson and Leif Eriksson throughout the country today.
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