How to Find a Great Highland Bagpipe Teacher
The BBC News reported on February 28, 2007 that the 40-member Wick Royal British Legion Scotland Pipe Band recorded a noise level exceeding the sound of a jet taking off. Regardless of the size of the band, the Great Highland Bagpipes are hard to miss. Listening to a massed band can be a captivating experience that motivates many to try to learn how to play the Great Highland bagpipes themselves.
If you decide that you want to be more than just a casual observer of the bagpipes — that is, you want to learn how to play them — don’t wait too long. Like any musical instrument, it takes considerable time, effort, and commitment to become proficient.
A Teacher is Important
Once you’ve decided that this is something you really want to pursue, you need to find a good teacher. Andrew Lenz goes into great detail on this on his website Bagpipe Journey. Read the rest of this entry »
Bands that Use the Bagpipes in Their Music
Bagpipes are used across the musical genres and by many mainstream musicians. Some songs and artists are recognizable; others are just waiting to be discovered.
Bagpipes aren’t just for funerals, mass bands, and pub crawls. They can be a powerful compliment to a rock band and a surprising addition to a pop artist.. Bagpipes make a band and its’ sound unique and more fun to listen to.
Rock and Roll Bagpipes
There are many different options for rock and roll music and bagpipes. A good song to start with is the classic AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock ‘n Roll). Here are some other bands that more regularly incorporate the bagpipes into their songs:
• Black 47-This Irish rock band was formed in New York in 1989. They use the Uilleann Bagpipes which are Irish small bagpipes. They Uilleann Bagpipes have a different tone than the Great Highland Bagpipes, but are equally enjoyable to listen too.
• Dropkick Murphys-This American Celtic punk band was formed in 1996. They’ve put out 6 albums since than. Their truly unique rendition of Amazing Grace is definitely worth a listen.
• Red Hot Chilli Pipers-This Scottish band formed in 2004 and is made up of world class bagpipe musicians. Their cover of We Will Rock You sets the standard for full incorporation of the Great Highland Bagpipes into mainstream music. Read the rest of this entry »
You may have heard that bagpipes are a Scottish invention; you may have heard that they are an Irish invention. The truth (of course) is neither one. The bagpipe was invented in ancient Samaria, in Israel. The Bible mentions the instrument in the book of Daniel chapter 3, where it is listed as one of the instruments use to call the people to worship a statue. This event takes place in ancient Iraq, which was then part of the Babylonian empire.
Many other times in history the instrument has been mentioned and concluding from this evidence we can say that the instrument must have been invented in ancient Samaria. From there migrating tribes of peoples took it to different parts of Europe, India and northern Africa. Some 200 years ago the instrument was very popular throughout Europe. “So, what happened?”, you may say.
Read the rest of this entry »
The Bagpipe of The Scots
Nowadays, when one mentions bagpipes, one usually thinks of tartan-clad pipe bands, or the label of a bottle of Scotch whisky. But bagpipes had been around for thousands of years before they reached the shores of Scotland.
It is unknown when the Highlands first echoed to the keen of the pipes. They may have been introduced by the Romans when they invaded the British Isles, or perhaps carried over from Ireland when the Scots invaded and settled the highlands – or they may have evolved independantly.
Early Highland pipes were quite different to their modern cousins. The actual pipes themselves were crafted from whatever was available – even bone was used. Tonally, they were probably somewhat lower in pitch than modern pipes. Early bagpipes only had one drone. The design gradually improved, with more drones being added, until by the time of the last Jacobite uprising in 1745-6, bagpipes with two drones were the norm, although three-drone pipes were not unknown. Two-drone bagpipes are still played by Irish regimental bands, and are called Irish Pipes.
The modern Highland Bagpipe consists of three drones – one bass, two tenors – a chanter (the melody pipe, through which nine notes are produced), a blowstick ( through which the bag is inflated), and, of course, a bag of leather or synthetic material. Read the rest of this entry »
Question: Why are bagpipes a part of funerals, especially firefighter and police funerals?
Answer: The history of funeral bagpipes is a fairly simple (though very sad) one. In traditional Celtic cultures, including both the Irish and Scottish cultures, bagpipes were an important part of a traditional funeral. After the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s, Irish immigrants came to the United States in huge numbers. Due primarily to racism and xenophobia, Irish people were often allowed to apply for only the most dangerous and difficult jobs, including the jobs of firefighter and police officer.
Work-related deaths for firemen and cops were not uncommon, and when one or more of these deaths would occur, the Irish community would hold a traditional Irish funeral, including the mournful bagpipes. Over the years, this tradition spread to firefighters and police officers who were not of Irish descent.
So if it’s an Irish tradition, why are the Scottish bagpipes used?
In short, it’s because the Scottish highland bagpipes are significantly louder than the traditional Irish uillean pipes. Though it’s likely that either or both types of pipes were used at funerals in the 1800s, the Scottish highland pipes are now almost universally used.
Where do they find bagpipers to play at firefighter and police officer’s funerals?
Fire and police departments in most major cities have a special brigade, usually as a division of an Irish fraternal group called The Emerald Society, who learn to play bagpipes and drums for the very purpose of honoring their fallen comrades. In some places, civilians may be members of the pipe and drum band, but generally, the members are active or retired firefighters and police officers.