BORDER BAGPIPE

THE BORDER OR LOWLAND BAGPIPE IS A LOUD CAULD WIND PIPE, WHICH IS CURRENTLY UNDERGOING A GREAT REVIVAL
 
Border, Lowland or 'Cauld Wind' bagpipes differ from the Highland bagpipe. Their drones are set in a common stock, they are usually bellows blown and they have a quieter, sweeter tone. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Scottish Border was a centre of popularity for the use of these pipes and each town employed its own toun piper.
 

My pipes are a recreation of an 18th century set now in the Piping Centre Museum, said to have been presented by a family from Peebles. The original is set-up for a left-handed piper; The last piper of Peebles, James Ritchie, was left-handed - could these pipes be the ones that were presented to the Burgh in 1773 by Lord Cockburn?
I have measured and copied the chanter in great detail. The internal conical bore is complex, with three different gradients. Several of the fingerholes on the original chanter have been greatly enlarged - especially the C hole. It is hard to assess what actual pitch it originally played at; I have approached it on the assumption that it plays in concert A (A = 440). It plays well at this pitch with a special reed that I have developed, using fingering similar to the Highland pipes. It has a loud bright tone - considerably quieter than its Highland cousin. It plays a 'Scottish' scale with flattened top and bottom leading notes. The top leading note can be fingered either flattened or sharpened which greatly increases its musical possibilities
The original pipes have the splendid combination of one bass drone and two tenors, set in their common stock. (I am prepared to discuss fitting a baritone or alto drone instead of one of the tenors). The chanter and drone ends are of boxwood and drone mounts are of brass. Horn mounts and ferrules can be fitted as an extra. The bag is hand-sewn leather, with a traditional green baize woollen cover.

I have put a great deal of care and attention into the design and construction of the bellows based on many of the better Scottish bellows I have measured in the collections. The leather is handsewn to the clapper boards which are finely made of hardwood. The boards have a solid- drawn hinge, which gives a much more positive action than the simpler and more commonly employed system of using a leather thong as a hinge. For more information, visit my bellows page


 

I am quite prepared to make Border Pipes with a mouth-pipe instead of bellows - indeed there are several old depictions of Border Pipes being mouth blown.

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