Instruments | Bagpipes | Late Baroque | Classical
The bagpipe consists of drones, or reedpipes, which are connected to a windbag. The windbag is held under the arm and is squeezed by the elbow to pass air into the pipes. The windbag is inflated by a blowpipe or bellows, and the melody is played by means of a chanter, a pipe with fingerholes.
Although the bagpipe was essentially a folk instrument, it was played at court in several periods. Certainly Henry VIII (1491–1547) heard it and in Baroque France the musette (which is fed by a small hand-pumped bellows) and the cornemuse (which has a conical chanter) joined the court’s instrumental ensembles. These French instruments had embroidered bags and ivory pipes; they can be heard to wonderful effect in music such as the shepherd’s dance in Rameau’s Les fêtes d’Hébé.
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