(Basic type)

Main parts:
  1. Bag (Usually / Traditionally made of a prepared animal skin or, in most western bagpipes, tanned leather), sometimes protected by a decorative cover of velvet or another fabric).
  2. Blowpipe (in some types replaced by a bellows). With only very rare exceptions, blowpipes are provided with a non-return valve, which is, however, an indispensable part of the bellows. NB: When a blowpipe has no valve, a piper must close it with his tongue, when inhaling...
  3. Chanter (melody pipe). Some types have double chanters. Most of these consist of 2 tubes (usually parallel, adjoining and of equal length), each provided with fingerholes (often an equal number), but some consist of a single melody pipe plus a semi-drone (i.e. a soundig pipe with only 1 fingerhole; ➺ e.g. Dvojnice (Vojvodina, SRB)). Triple chanters do exist, but are rather rare (➺ e.g. Gajdzica (PL), and Diplice (HR)). In Slovakia occurs even a type of Gajdy with a quadruple chanter (➺ Gajdica) …
  4. Drone (organ-point). Some types have multiple drones, each of which usually have a different pitch. The Scottish Highland bagpipe has, however, 3 drones, 1 of which is a bass drone. Because its 2 tenor drones are shorter, they have a higher, though mutually identical, pitch.
  5. Chanters and drones are provided with reeds (sound generators). There are 2 types of bagpipe reeds:
    • single, which consist of a narrow tube with a tongue. This type is applied in drones, and in chanters of Eastern European and non-European bagpipes.
    • double, which look like oboe reeds, and are applied in chanters of Western European bagpipes, and in all sounding pipes of the Zampogna types of Central and Southern Italy).
NB: Some 50 countries have their own piping traditions. At present, the northernmost of them is Sweden, the westernmost is Ireland, the easternmost Myanmar [until 1989 Burma], and the southernmost India… Many consider the Scottish Highland bagpipe, however, as the epitome of all bagpipes. In my perception the explanation for this is quite simple: It is based on the instrument being used in the 1st World War to support the British troops (and scare off the enemies at the same time), a fact that is emphasised in many, mainly American, films...

Wiebe Stodel, 18 July 2021.