The most important surviving set of 18th Century smallpipes is the Montgomery smallpipes which are now housed in the Piping Centre Bagpipe Museum, Glasgow. This set of pipes is inscribed "HONL. COLL. MONTGOMERY 1st.BATTN.JANY 4 1757".
It is the earliest dated Scottish Small Pipe. Because of the date it has been described as 'a Rosetta Stone of Scottish bagpipe musicology'. Col. Montgomery is known to have employed 30 pipers in his regiment which fought campaigns in the American wars of Independence.
The original instrument is mouth blown, but I also make them bellows blown. The chanter and drones, (bass, baritone and tenor) have extremely narrow bores giving an enchantingly sweet sound. The whole instrument is very small and the pitch is E. The top leading note is sharpened and the bottom is flattened. It is a fascinating set of pipes which poses many historical and musical questions. It is also a delight to play! A bellows-blown set is wonderful for accompanying singing.
Interest in 18th Century piping has grown considerably since Matt Seattle's discovery and publication of William Dixon's manuscript from 1733. (The Master Piper). While Dixon's pipe music may not have been intended for the smallpipes, he was a contemporary of Col. Montgomery.
The Montgomery Smallpipes can be played with covered fingering or, if one closes off the end of the chanter, it can be played with closed fingering, like the Northumbrian pipes
Barnaby Brown, who has a background of playing Scottish pipes, has flattened his top and bottom leading note using wax and plays here using Highland fingering (soundclip from the duo Banda-Re on their CD "Strathosphere" , Siubhal CD021 2006. Berwick Bully/ New way to Morpeth)
listen to track
Two tunes by Barnaby Brown (Montgomery smallpipe) accompanied by Gianluca Dessí (guitar).