Hümmelchen
Hümmelchen
Großer Bock
Großer Bock
Schäferpfeife
Schäferpfeife
Medieval Bagpipe
Medieval Bagpipe
Great Highland Bagpipe
Great Highland Bagpipe
Bagpipe Der Sackpfeyffer zu Linden
 Hier geht's zur deutschsprachigen Version
Go here to the German version

Hümmelchen
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Hümmelchen

The bagpipe shown here, the "German small bagpipe" (ger.: Hümmelchen, means "small bumblebee"), is mouth blown or bellow blown and has a cylindrical bored chanter equipped with a double-reed and two cylindrical bored drones equipped with double-reeds. The chanter has a scale range of c¹ d¹ e¹ — g² and is tuned up to tuning pitch a¹ = 440 Hz. This large scale range is enabled by two mounted keys. These keys are modern developments. Scale range of the chanter ends at e♭² without key fingerings. Tones e², f² and f♯² are played with the keys. Key for tone e² is handled by left little finger. Key for tones f² and f♯² is handled by first phalanx of right forefinger. Tone g² is an overblown tone. Tone c¹ is fingered and additionally key for tone e² is opened to play this tone. Both drones are constructed to tune them to different tones, that's supported by used double-reeds. The long drone can be tuned to tones c⁰ and d⁰ by turning the upper section. A vent-hole is opened for tone d⁰ by turning. This drone can also be tuned to tone B starting from tone c⁰. The short drone can be tuned to tones f⁰, g⁰ and a⁰ by turning upper section. Vent-holes are opened for tones g⁰ and a⁰ by turning. This drone can also be tuned to tone e⁰ starting from tone f⁰. These tuning possibilities result in 20 different drone tunings. 13 out of them are musically useful:

The other possible tunings with both drones are useless in most cases. They can only be used for modern music in rare cases.
This instrument is equipped with plastic reeds.

Wooden parts of the instrument shown above are made of chequer tree wood. Mounts are made of plastic on chanter stock and lower end of the chanter. All other mounts are made of horn. Brass is used for keys. The bag is made of leather. An additional stock is bound into bag. A bellow can be attached on this stock. The non-return valve at blow pipe prevents air flow through blow pipe while playing bellow blown. The additional stock is closed with a stopper while playing mouth blown. This instrument is equipped with plastic reeds. This normally causes no problems for sound of bagpipes in difference to direct blown reed instruments. Plastic reeds shorten "warm blowing time".

The Hümmelchens (with keyless chanters) are typical instruments of the Renaissance. They sound distinct softer than the bagpipes with conical bored chanters. The chanter is always equipped with a double-reed. The drones can be equipped with double-reeds or single-reeds. If the drones are equipped with double-reeds too, nearly no differences are between sounds of the chanter and the drones. This results in a very homogeneous sound of the instrument. German name Hümmelchen or Hummelchen goes back to a sound component of the instrument, that reminds one of the flapping of wings of a bumblebee (ger.: Hummel). The Hümmelchens with three or four drones are also called Dudey. Some modern Hümmelchens are build with only one drone. These instruments are chiefly designed for learners. Most common are soprano chanters. Sopranino chanters (lowest tone f¹), alto chanters (lowest tone f⁰) and tenor chanters (lowest tone c⁰) are build too.


Großer Bock
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Großer Bock

The bagpipe shown here, the "Großer Bock" (ger., means: great "bock" bagpipe), is mouth blown and has a cylindrical bored chanter equipped with a double-reed and one cylindrical bored drone equipped with a single-reed. The chanter and the drone have larges bells made of horns. The tenor chanter has a scale range of c⁰ d⁰ – f♯¹ and is tuned up to tuning pitch a¹ = 440 Hz. The alto chanter has a scale range of f⁰ g⁰ – b¹ and is tuned up to tuning pitch a¹ = 440 Hz. This large scale range is enabled by two mounted keys. These keys are modern developments. Scale range of tenor chanter ends at e♭¹ without key fingerings. Tones e¹, f¹ and f♯¹ are played with the keys. Scale range of alto chanter ends at a♭¹ without key fingerings. Tones a¹, b♭¹ and b¹ are played with the keys. The keys are handled by left forefinger and left thumb. The drone consists of several sections. This construction enables tuning it to different tones. Section 1 keeps the single-reed and and is placed in drone stock. The drone is always tuned by moving section 2. Section 6 keeps the bell. Therefore sections 1, 2 and 6 are always used. Sections 3, 4 and 5 are inserted between sections 2 and 6 if needed. To different sized single-reeds are available too. Possible drone tunings are listed below:

C    long single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+4+5+6  (as shown above)
D    long single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+4+6
E    long single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+6
E    short single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+4+6
F    short single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+4+6
G    short single-reed+ sections 1+2+3+6
A    short single-reed+ sections 1+2+6

The drone is tuned to tones E or F with short single-reed by moving section 2. All other drone tones require inserting or removing sections or changing the single-reed. Shorten the drone tube increases overtone content of drone sound. Drone tone E with long single-reed and A with short single-reed sound with much overtones and are borderline cases for drone tones. It can be switched to drone tone E with short single-reed as an alternative to drone tone E with long single-reed. There is no direct alternative for drone tone A with short single-reed, but in many cases it's possible to use drone tone E with short single-reed instead.

Wooden parts of the instrument shown above are made of chequer tree wood. The horn bells are from cattle. Brass is used for keys. The bag is made of leather. The drone is equipped with plastic reed. The alto chanter and the tenor chanter are equipped with a "natural reed" (reed made of the reed "arundo donax").

"Bock" calls same different bagpipes. All of them have horns as bells on the chanter and the drone(s). The "Großer Bock" is called "Praetorius-Bock" too. "Praetorius-Bock" refers to Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), who described this instrument in his "Syntagma musicum". Any reference doesn't exist that Michael Praetorius builded this instrument or helped by its development. The name "Großer Bock" is mostly used to tell the "Großer Bock" from other middleeastern European bagpipes called "bock" (Sorbian bock, Bohemian bock Egerland bock, …).


Schäferpfeife
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Schäferpfeife

The bagpipe shown here is mouth blown and has a conical bored chanter equipped with a double-reed and one cylindrical bored drone equipped with a single-reed. This bagpipe sounds rather loud despite its small size. It corresponds to a Schäferpfeife (ger., means "shepherd's bagpipe") in physics and sound, but it's plainly designed in difference to most Schäferpfeifes. So this instrument looks very similar like a medieval bagpipe. The chanter has a scale range of c² d² — e♭³ and is tuned up to tuning pitch a¹ = 440 Hz. The drone is tuned on tone d⁰ and can be tuned on tone c⁰ if it's needed. This instrument can also be used to produce "strange" sounds. If air pressure in bag is increased more or less some overblown tones (g³, a³ and b³ almost stable), some squeaking tones and some intentionally dirty tones can be played.

Wooden parts of the instrument shown above are made of chequer tree wood. The bag is made of leather. This instrument is equipped with plastic reeds.

Download here two sound examples (an antique tune and a modern tune: 
antiquity ("Hymn to the Muse", Mesomedes of Crete, ~130): kleine_Sackpfeife_Antike.ogg
modern age ("improvisation", own work): kleine_Sackpfeife_modern.ogg 


Marktsackpfeife
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Marktsackpfeife

The bagpipe shown here is mouth blown and has a conical bored chanter equipped with a double-reed and two cylindrical bored drones equipped with single-reeds. This bagpipe sounds very loud. The chanter has a scale range of f♯¹ — b² and is tuned up to tuning pitch a¹ = 440 Hz. This scale range is extended in comparision to standard scale range g¹ a¹ b¹ — a² of the Marktsackpfeife chanter. Scale range extension is realised with several elements. A key is mounted for tone f♯¹. This key is handled by left little finger. A key is mounted for tone b². This key is handled by left forefinger. Double holes are bored for tones g¹/g♯¹ and a¹/b♭¹. A second thumb hole is bored for tone c♯². This solution voices better than cross fingering for tone c♯². The long drone sounds on tone A, the short drone sounds on tone e⁰. Both drones cannot tuned to other tones. Therefore keys/modes can only be played based on keynotes a, d and e. The chromatic scaled chanter gives access to all keys/modes based on keynotes a, d and e. Both drones are used or only the long drone is used for playing keys/modes based on keynote a. It's possible but uncommon to use the short drone only for playing keys/modes based on keynote a. Both drones are used or only the long drone is used for playing keys/modes based on keynote d. If both drones are used they sound on fifth and major ninth to keynote. This isn't suitable for all tunes and then only the long drone is used. Only the short drone is used for playing keys/modes based on keynote e. The instrument shown above is equipped with stoppers for both drones to use them separately. A chanter is highliy recommended with extended scale range up to tone b² to play keys/modes based on keynote e, because otherwise highest tone of tune is often missing on chanter.

The chanter tube of the instrument shown above is made of blackwood. All other wooden parts are made of stained and oiled maple wood. The chanter bell is stained very dark to meet color of chanter tube. Brass is used for keys. The bag is made of leather. This instrument is equipped with plastic reeds.


Great Highland Bagpipe
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Great Highland Bagpipe

The bagpipe shown here is mouth blown and has a conical bored chanter equipped with a double-reed and three cylindrical bored drones equipped with single-reeds. This bagpipe is called "Great Highland Bagpipe" (Piob mhor, Cornemuse écossaise, Biniou braz). The chanter has a scale range of g¹a¹-a². Absolute pitch is circa +120 cent above the standard pitch, which results in a tuning pitch of circa a¹ = 472 Hz. The "bass drone" is tuned on the tone A, the two "tenor drones" are tuned on the tone a⁰. This drone configuration is the most conspicuous and most peculiar characteristic of this kind of the bagpipe, because normally the bagpipes only have one drone for each drone tone. A second chanter exists for this bagpipe. This chanter has an absolute pitch circa +100 cent above the standard pitch, which results in a tunig pitch of circa a¹ = 466 Hz. This is equal to the tone b♭¹, if equal temperament and the standard pitch are used. Tones b♭¹, d♯² and g♯² are problematically on both chanters. Less this isn't a problem of these tones itself. Problem is caused by very sharp dissonances (minor second, tritone, major seventh; plus one octave each) those are created through addition of these tones with tones of two tenor drones, which hardly goes well together with the tonal characteristic of this very loud kind of the bagpipe.

Wooden parts of the instrument shown above are made of blackwood. The chanter is made of a special plastic (polypenco®). Mounts are made of imitation ivory (synthetic ivory replacement, art ivory). The drones have nickel-slides. The bag is made of cowhide and has a cover made of cord. The drones are equipped with plastic reeds. Both chanters are equipped with a "natural reed" (reed made of the reed "arundo donax").

Absolute pitch of the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB) has gone higher and higher in the course of time. This can be seen in notation for the GHB too, because the GHB is traditionally notated in a still today. Only nine tones are used on the GHB especially in sphere of the military influenced music. These nine tones result in a Mixolydian scale in reference to drone tones. Many musicians think that's a part of tradition of the GHB and therefore any other tones should be played on it. Special names exist for these nine tones. Today these special names are extended to additional tones. Special names are shown in table left. Additional tones are written into gray cells. Limitation to these nine tones also influences notation of "traditional" Scottish GHB music. All this tunes have to be notated with two sharps, but these accidentals are often omitted. If somebody gets such sheets of music and he doesn't now anything about this bad habit, he will hear a very strange and wrong result trying to play this tune. Limitation to these nine tones may be useful in sphere of military influenced music (Pipes & Drums, Pipeband), because additional tones can't usefully produce with each reed-chanter-combination and these tones aren't 100% stable in every case. Limitation to these nine tones isn't useful in most other cases! The GHBs are used for traditional Breton music on those at least additional tones minor third (C natural) and minor sixt (F natural) can be played. It may be a disadvantage that some of "traditional" grace notes can't be played on a more or less chromatic playable chanter, but these chanters offer other possibilities for graces.
 
tone   name on
the GHB
low G
low A
b♭¹B flat
B
C natural
c♯²C
D
d♯²D sharp
E
F natural
f♯²F
high G
g♯²high G sharp
high A

The bagpipes are known since the antiquity. Instruments similar to the bagpipe that's shown on the top of this page are known in Europe since the late Middle Ages. Similar to the most European music instruments they have their origin in the orient and were imported by the Moorish people in Spain as well as the crusaders, pilgrims and merchants to Europe.

Four kinds of chanters exist:

Some bagpipes have a chanter that's finished with an animal horn (from a cow or a goat) as bell, e.g. all Bocks, Gaide, Zukra. Some bagpipes are equipped with two chanters. Often the oriental bagpipes without any drones are equipped with two chanters, e.g. Zukra, Tulum. These instruments are normally played unison. Because these two chanters are constructed like a mijwiz on principle it's possible to play two different parts at one time. Normally two different parts at one time are played on the European bagpipes with two chanters. Mostly the chanter has a scale range of a ninth. The possibilities to play tones that aren't included in the scale differ from chanter to chanter. Everything is possible from diatonic to fully chromatic. Each chanter of instruments with two chanters normally has a scale range of a sixth only. Some chanters have a scale range that's extended up to two octaves. Either the chanter is overblown (e.g. Schäferpfeife) or it's equipped with keys instead of fingerholes (e.g. modern Uilleann Pipe).
The number of the drones differs from 0 to 6. Mostly one to three drones exist. Normally the drones have cylindrical bores and singe-reeds, but double-reeds are used too, e.g. Hümmelchen, Dudey. The bagpipes those sound loud often have drones that are finished with bells. If the chanter is finished with an animal horn as bell the drones are mostly finished with an animal horn as bell too.
Either the air is blown through a blowpipe into the bag ("mouth blown") or it's blown with a bellow through a flexible tube into the bag ("bellow blown"). A non-return valve impedes that the air can flow back. Constant air pressure that's needed for the chanter(s) and the drone(s) is controlled with the arm that holds the bag.
The chanter(s) and the drone(s) are normally manufactured out of wood. The chanters and the drones of antique and oriental bagpipes can be manufactured out of hollow plantstalks (mostly bamboo). Today some chanters are manufactured out of special plastics especially for the Great Highland Bagpipe. The bag is normally manufactured out of leather. Sometimes the hairs are leaved on the skin, e.g. Gaide. Today some bags are manufactured out of special synthetic materials. Rubber ins't absolutely suitable for bags of the mouth blown bagpipes, because the humidity blown into the bag can't sufficiently be drained off!



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© Sönke Kraft, Hannover 2001
last update: 25.10.2015