The History of Scottish Bagpipes

While the bagpipe was not invented in Scotland, they do nevertheless boast a very interesting Scottish history. There is a question mark over where and when the bagpipe first arrived in Scotland. There are however, references to the Scottish bagpipe in the Lowlands. For example, Gerald of Wales wrote in his 12th century papers, that the chorus of Highlander music featuredScottish_Bagpipers-4273 a bagpipe without drones and a rudimentary blow stick and chanter. The latter represents the foundation of the ancient bagpipe musical style.

The drones which are prominent features on today’s bagpipes were not added for a couple of centuries after that report. This was done in order to generate better acoustics. It has taken from the 14th century right up until fairly recently in the 19th century, for the magnificent Highland bagpipes and other similar pipes to have three drones added.

The Highlands and Islands were ruled by the Lords of the Isles between the 12th and 16th century. Musicians including pipers were traditional officers at the courts of the Scottish Isles during this time, and it was commonplace for a family member to possess a land grant for the virtuous pipers’ heritable office.

A large number of Celtic customs were taken on by the Scottish court, and the great importance which they gave to bagpipes and pipers can be witnessed in the records they kept. When the 14th Century arrived, pipers were financially rewarded by King David II, and then during the 15th Century, Scotland’s King James I was regarded as a vary talented bagpiper. In addition to this, the reign of James IV which ran between the 15th and 16th century, indicates that pipers were given patronage. And even now, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth maintains her own personal piper. He plays the bagpipes every morning in order to wake her up from her slumber.

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