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Miscellaneous Anyone play the bagpipes?

Nick Cook

Wokingham, Berks, UK
Hi, I've decided I might like to play the bagpipes.

I've found out I need to start with a practice chanter.

Anyone else had any experience with bagpipes?
You'll need a kilt too

Spent a lot of time recently looking into this as my son's keen. The things are really noisy, especially the GHB. Might be an idea to bounce it off the family and neighbours first. Noise varies, depending on the type of pipes, and there are many.... And the cheap stuff doesn't play. You need to spend real money, not pick something up mail order, unless it's from a reputable maker/pipe dealer. Same goes for the practice chanters. And there are quite a few different fingering systems.
Bagpipes are not a musical instrument. They are a weapon of war.
Fortunately, over there in Berkshire, you should be far enough away from this side of Surrey for us not to be able to hear them. :w00t:
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Nick, a practice chanter (with plastic double reed) is the starting tool and will be used as long as you play the pipes because it is a duplicate of the full sized chanter. Cost about $80.00 to $100.00. A full set of pipes around run about $1,200.00 starting price.

It would be good if you lived in an area that is away from other people. Not good if you live in an apartment or have a house that is real close to a neighbor. The Highland or War Pipes were, and still are made to carry long distances.

The chanter is very difficult to master due to the grace notes which may take about 1-2 years to play correctly depending on the amount of time you put into practice. Your fingers will not be on the holes like fingering a sax. The fingers are placed half way across the tone holes which take some time to get use to.

Too many "weekend pipers", as some call them, usually play out of tune and many do not use the grace notes which has helped to give the bagpipes a poor reputation in some cases. But I guess that goes with any instrument. Just depends on how advanced the individual wants to become.

A pro with a well tuned set of pipes makes a difference. But no matter how well they are played it is a sound that some people simply do not like.

Lastly, find a teacher. Do not try the self teach method.
Och aye young Johnny lad, you're talking about piper's grip and tripling and doubling.

Piper's grip is also used by the "low" keyless flute and whistle players and the correct doubling and tripling used to differentiate between melody notes, well who really kens?

The MacCaSLM's Piper, who's duties include Piping in the Fish 'n' Chip Supper at the Queen's Jubilee Posh Nosh and other official occasions.
You could learn using a an electronic chanter, cost about £180.
It can be played through its own little speaker or headphones.
There are examples of it being played on youtube.
The maker in Canada sells them through ebay and they are available in this country.
Thanks for all the replies. I was hoping Mrs. C would get me a practice chanter for my birthday tomorrow - but she's not keen!!

IF I decide to have a go at the pipes, I would also get a kilt and any checking of dress would be acceptable (but only from ladies!!)
Hey old git. Yes it is a different language all together and very enjoyable. I started back in the 60's and took a band (Dunedin City PB) to Scotland twice and enjoyed two real good trips.

Targa's suggestion about an electronic chanter is worth looking into due to the volume knob.
Awa' wi ye, Johnny lad. Always thought the knob was the player. :shocked:

Better sharpen the claymore after that. >:)
I got a practice chanter from Mrs C this morning. So will now have to at least give that a go!! :w00t:
Enjoy it, piper's grip is easy, if a total idiot like me finds it easy, you'll have no trouble and remember there is a multi-instrumentalist who plays jazz on a GHP. The doublings and triplings don't make that much sense on a chanter for a woodwind player who can start and end notes at will but when you get a bag on the end or you are superb at circular breathing, it will.
The sound of Scottish bagpipes can be a bit penetrating, but when, for example, a lone piper plays "Mrs Campbells' Lament", one is reminded more of an oboe.

BTW, the Northumbrian pipes are roughly to the Scottish pipes as the English Horn is to the oboe. And I once heard Dutch bagpipes. They sound quite mellow also.

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