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The Sound of Bagpipes

How often has the sound of bagpipes ..... stirred fond memories or emotions. Deep down, in your inner most being, the sound coming from someone playing bagpipes catches you. I know that for me, ever since I was a small boy the sounds of bagpipes have stirred my emotions and continue to do so today.


From time to time, on a hill behind my house a lonely piper goes there to practice his art. When the sound of bagpipes drifts across the valley, it does not take long for the local children to gather around him and sit spellbound, at his feet, as he plays his Great Highland Bagpipe. If you watch their faces they have an expression of concentration as if the sound has captured all their being, mesmerized.


I have seen the parsing traffic suddenly slow down as they pass by the piper. It is not uncommon for the local population to move out of there houses and listen to the sound as well. Such is the effect of the sound of bagpipes.


At shopping malls, when you see a piper playing his bagpipes, it catches the ear of the passers by. If one stops and watches them you will often see a foot tapping, or a head nodding to the rhythm of the bagpipe music and an expression of content on their faces as they stand around listening to the melody.


When you mention to someone that you play bagpipes it evokes a look of admiration on there faces or they start a conversation about the Great Highland Bagpipe.


What is it about the sound of bagpipes that stirs your emotions or stops us for a second or two, to listen to the sounds of the bagpipe?


To be honest I don't really know, maybe you do!. Is it something to do with the bagpipes unique harmonics, the relationship of the chanter and the drones? The interplay of the chanter against the background of the steady sound of the drones. Oliver Seeler's Universe of Bagpipes website has an excellent article that discusses this concept.


The popularity of the Scottish Bagpipe continues to grow. This can be witnessed at how often the bagpipe player can be seen playing for special occasions such as:
  • weddings,
  • parties (ceilidhs),
  • funerals,
  • religious festivals,
  • birthdays,
  • anniversaries,
  • military ceremonies, etc.


The bagpipes have a long and proud association with battle, war and the military. It is the only instrument to be declared a weapon of war. Maybe this could be a contributing reason!


I don't think that we could single out any one particular reason that causes us to have a fascination with the sounds of bagpipes, it could be one or many reasons. The truth be told, I don't think that a short article like this could ever hope to address this subject.


One thing that I do know anyone who hears the sound of bagpipes has a memory and fascination for the instrument and develops some sort of a bond with the Great Highland Bagpipe.


Written by Greg Barnes.


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