Bagpipes from everywhere

A strange and familiar instrument, quite unknown but widespread, the bagpipe is an aerophone usually composed by several reed instruments, single reed, double reed or free reed depending on the instruments, powered by a bag filled with air. You can find bagpipes mostly in Europe, Maghreb and even India!

Bagpipe origines

Some reed instruments are played by pinching the reed with the lips, some others with the reed powered by air without touching.

The simplest is to put the reed inside the musician’s mouth, and from a certain level of pressure, the sound starts.

There are also instruments with an air chamber, a little more comfort for the musician.

This technique allows to multiply the instruments in the musician’s mouth, and to use the circular breathing technique.

You can also multiply instruments in an air chamber.

Bagpipes from Europe

Maybe the most known bagpipe, the Great Highland Bagpipe from Scottland, big bagpipe with 1 melodic pipe and 3 drones.

The Northumbrian Smallpipes is a quite unique bagpipe from England, composed by one chanter and four drones. Its particularity is a completely closed end, each note is played opening only one hole, so the musician can play staccato, very surprising from a bagpipe!

The zampogna is a big bass bagpipe from Italia with a polyphonic playing, one of the biggest bagpipes!

The polyphonic bohassa is a quite recent creation wich allowed chords with a triple melodic pipe for a surprising sound. You can also take a look at the occitan builder Robert Matta! (in french)

The biniou kozh is the most high pitched bagpipe from Brittany, France, often played in duet with bombarde, near ultrasound, and I think one of my favorite instruments!

Bagpipes from the world

The mezwed is a bagpipe with double melodic pipe and without drones, from Morocco. The two melodic pipes are tuned almost identically (the “almost” gives the sound subtlety) played in unison with flat fingers on two holes at the same time.

The turkish tulum, quite close to mezwed from Marroco or askomadoura from Crete.

The mashak is a bagpipe from India, the building was modified by adding some pipes with the meeting of scottish bagpipes.

There is a lot more missing, do not hesitate to suggest other instruments to increase the list in the comments, and suscribe to not miss the next articles!

About Nicolas Bras 16 Articles
Homemade Instrument maker, rare and strange instrument seeker / Bricoleur d'instruments, chercheur d'instruments rares


  1. Indeed, uileann pipes that are quite unique because the air is taken into the bag without breath from the player but by bellows on the other arm. And eastern Europe, a lot of old pipes there too!

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