Although bagpipes are often associated with the misty hills of Scotland, this musical instrument has a fascinating and diverse history. One of the oldest known references to bagpipes comes from Egypt about 100 B.C., and bagpipes were mentioned in both Roman and Greek historical accounts that date back to 100 A.D.
Bagpipes are typically made up of four parts: the blow pipe, which allows air to be blown into the instrument; the bag that holds the air; the chanter, which plays the desired melody; and the drone, which holds a constant note to allow the piper to take a breath. Although the bag was originally made of animal skin and the pipes were made of ivory or bog oak, you can make bagpipes from common household items.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic bag
- Straw, 1/2 inches in diameter
- Duct tape
- Two recorders
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Lay the bag for the bagpipes flat with the open side facing you. Tape at least 1 inch of the straw inside the opening of bag and ensure both ends are clear. This piece will function as your blowpipe.
Tape the mouthpiece of one of the recorders inside the bag, a few inches away from the blowpipe, using the duct tape. The mouthpiece should be taped well inside the bag but make sure the recorder's window--the small rectangular opening below the mouthpiece--is out of the bag and not covered by tape. This piece will function as your drone.
Seal the open side of the bag with the tape. Make sure the areas around the blowpipe and the drone are well sealed to minimize the amount of air that can escape from this part of the bagpipes.
Cut a small hole in the bottom corner of the bag. Attach the mouthpiece of the second recorder inside, ensuring the window of the recorder is clear. Use the tape to seal around the mouthpiece. This final piece will function as your chanter.
Blow into the blowpipe to inflate the bag. The recorders should both be making sounds. If they aren't, check if the recorder windows are clear and look for any leaks in the bag. Use the tape to close holes on the drone until you get the best sound.
Continue to blow into the blowpipes to play your new instrument. Experiment by moving your fingers over the chanter recorder to play melodies on the bagpipes while resting the drone against your shoulder.