Pipe It Up – Scotland’s National Instrument



Bagpipes are a wind instrument using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Bagpipes have been played for a millennium or more throughout large parts of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, including Turkey, the Caucasus and around the Persian Gulf.

The Bagpipe was not born in Scotland, as people may think, the first clear reference to the use of the bagpipes is related to French history, which suggests their use at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547. George Buchanan (1506ā€“82) claimed that they had replaced the trumpet on the battlefield. From that moment on, the bagpipe has been considered the national instrument of Scotland and is best represented in the music of the Scottish Highlands. As you travel across the country, iconic sounds of the bagpipes will fill the air, and it is likely that you will hear a parade of pipers before you see them. It is common to come across pipers on high streets entertaining passers-by, in parades, at Highland Games and during festivities throughout the year in Scotland, as well as at gigs and music festivals. The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, which explores over 300 years of bagpipe history and features the oldest surviving chanter of the Highland bagpipe anywhere in the world. Every August, the centre hosts pipers from around the world who get together for the World Pipe Band Championships. This competition runs for a week and showcases the best bapipers and drummers, who combine to make for a truly iconic wave of sound . There are many different events scheduled from solo musicians to large bands playing traditional bagpipe music and versions of popular songs which fill today’s charts.

One bagpiper who took part in the competition last year, was 21-year old, Shonagh Duncan from the Scottish Borders, who joined locals to represent Duns Pipe Band. Despite having played the instrument for over 12 years, it still proved to be a fantastic opportunity for Shonagh to prove herself and share her passion with other bands coming from all over the world.

She spoke about the experience and how invaluable it was: “When you get to the Glasgow Green to pipe in it, it is scary but the adrenaline is great. You are surrounded by many pipers and bands. The atmosphere is amazing you can feel that everyone there loves the music and is passionate about the Scottish culture and traditions”.

Bagpipes to this day, remain a fundamental part of Scotland’s culture and music scene and it is important to keep it alive. It is nice to see young people performing and participating in a tradition which stems back many years and many generations


Photo: Wikimedia

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: