Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bagpipes for all...

Woke up yesterday needing to know if the Irish were full-fledged bagpipers, or if they only borrowed their neighboring Scots aerophones when they needed to make a solemn musical point. Turns out there are many distinct varieties of bagpipes all over Europe, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. Indeed the Irish have their own, the Irish Uellian Pipes, a smaller rig often played sitting.

Still, when we think bagpipe, we are most likely thinking of the Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland. Unless of course you are French, and you're predisposed to think of the Musette de Cour or the Boha of Gascony. Or perhaps you hail from Estonia, and when you think bagpipe you think Torupill. Then again, maybe you live in The Caucasus and you're fond of the Tulum. Tunis your hometown? Then you'll probably know someone who huffs into a Mizwad. Bohemia? Grab your Dudy. Balearic Islands? Strap on the Xeremia. Sicily? Likely you're blowing into a Zampogna (seen above).

There's no instrument that hypnotizes quite like a bagpipe. It's aggressive and oppressive in demanding our full, motionless attention. It conveys great sadness and great strength and it wants our total respect. While were on the topic, know someone named Piper or Pfeiffer or Duda or Gajdoš? It's fairly certain that their ancestors were known for blowing the skin-bag back in the day...


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