Thursday, 27 July 2006

Just below a triangle and slightly above the kazoo

For some reason I’d always thought that the bagpipes were a difficult instrument to play. There seemed to be more pipes than a tweed convention and some sort of circular breathing that needed to be mastered. What I worked out today is that it’s all complete bollocks. It turns out that the noble Scottish instrument is just a recorder with a hopper. Take a look at the picture.

If you ignore the Renaissance fair reject you can see it’s just a big balloon with a pair of pipes out the top to allow air in and out, a lengthened neck for the ‘musician’ to blow into (no tricky didgeridoo type breathing needed there Angus), and a stem out the bottom to play the different notes on.

Zooming in, you can even see that this final part is just the bottom of a recorder. No wonder it always sounds like a bunch of cats sliding down a blackboard; the whole thing is just a child’s instrument played loudly. The recorder is a terrible instrument to start with so quite why anyone would want to stick an inflatable amp on to it is completely beyond me.

I’ll acknowledge the historical worth of the bagpipe but my cousin Cressy at age 8 could master the tune from Eastenders on her recorder so how hard can it be to combine this with squeezing a big bladder at the some time?

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