What Are the Differences Between Irish Bagpipes and Scottish Bagpipes?

Bagpipes are musical woodwind instruments that consist of a bag, a chanter, an air supply, and at least one drone. These have been used worldwide since the 13th Century AD, especially by the people living in Western Asia, Northern Africa, Caucasus, Europe, Anatolia, and around the Persian Gulf. 

Surprisingly, people used them to provide music for dancing in the old year as a tradition. However, now it has declined and is just used as a performance-led tradition since it’s no longer considered suitable for dance.

In this article, we’ll provide you with complete information regarding different types of bagpipes, the difference between Irish and Scottish bagpipes, their pros and cons, and the best bagpipes available on amazon.

Are kilts and bagpipes Irish or Scottish?  Yes, the answer to this is that kilts and bagpipes are both parts of both Irish and Scottish people’s cultural heritage.

 What Are Scottish Bagpipes?

Scottish instruments have been an essential part of Scottish culture. The most famous among the Scotland instruments’ names is the bagpipe. They use it as a powerful instrument in marching bands in their parades and essential parades. 

If you ever get a chance to visit Scotland, you will hear its musical and lyrical tone everywhere. It has also been symbolized as an iconic instrument because of being used in British military bands.

There are many bagpipe types associated with Scottish culture and tradition. Out of which, the Great Highland Bagpipe is the most famous among them. 

Features of Scottish bagpipes

Considering the most common Scottish bagpipe, ‘Great Highland Bagpipe,’ we’ll discuss its main components. These Scottish pipe instruments have four main parts; the bag, the chanter, the blowpipe, and the drones.

Here’s a description of all these parts.

The Bag

The bag is the most prominent and protruding part of this great bagpipe in Scotland. It serves as an air-holding chamber. Thus, it’s called the lungs of the bagpipes. 

Also, it is made up of animal skins that include cows, sheep, and goats, which give it a beautiful look and a remarkable capacity for storage purposes.

However, nowadays, there are bagpipes Scottish for which manufacturers use synthetic materials like Gore-Tex, a waterproof fabric. By using this, it has increased the chances of attracting fungal spores. Therefore, these Scottish pipe instrument has a zipper to make the cleaning process more manageable.

 Moreover, these bags have a piper that controls the compression of airbags. The piper maintains the air pressure, enabling the stored air to pass through the chanter and the drones to produce music.

This whole process requires constant concentration, regulation, and strength. 

The Chanter

The Scottish High-land bagpipes have another essential component, the chanter, which is the melody pipe of this Scottish instrument. It is connected to the bag using a reed, and it works like a blowpipe. 

These chanters are cylindrical or conical in shape concerning their internal diameter and are usually made up of blackwood. The conical shape helps in creating loud and powerful sound.

Moreover, the chanter has multiple finger holes, which makes it appear like a flute. It works just like flute only. The chanter ends are open, which allows the air to pass out and produce melodious yet continuous sound with no rest. 

Therefore, the professionals have created technical movements to make certain breaks that control accents and articulations. However, this Scottish musical instrument requires the practice of many years.

The Blowpipe

This Scottish musical instrument has a blowpipe or blow stick which is the most crucial part. This blowpipe helps in maintaining air pressure by preventing air from escaping air by a unique airlock mechanism. 

This all is preserved with the player’s constant blowing, which requires his continued lung strength and endurance.

The Drones

The bagpipes, Scottish or Irish, both have drones. For most of the Scottish pipes, the drones are in a conical shape. Just like a chanter, they also have a reed which helps in producing sound. However, drones do not have finger holes and are not controllable. 

Thus, bagpipe like instruments creates a constant humming sound that harmonizes well throughout the play. 

These bagpipes Scottish have three drones, two tenor drones, and a bass drone. 

What Are Irish Bagpipes?

The bagpipe Irish is a very traditional and native instrument in Ireland. As you know, bagpipes, Scottish or Irish, are of multiple types. 

An essential Irish pipe instrument is Uilleann bagpipes, also known as Union pipes. The literal meaning of ‘Uilleann’ is an elbow. Also, this term was used in the 20th Century, before that ‘union pipe’ was famous. 

Moreover, they are considered as a national bagpipe of Ireland. One of the reasons is that people played it in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Therefore, it has an important place in the hearts of the people living in these countries. 

Also, Irish bagpipe music is much suitable for people who enjoy soft and sweet music indoor.

Due to the difference between Irish and Scottish culture, both prefer different music and have different types of bagpipes.

Irish Bagpipe Features

These bagpipe Ireland instruments have Unique features and components which differ from the Scottish Highland bagpipes. They both differ in appearance from the melodic sound both of them produce.

Here’s a short description of each essential part of an Irish bagpipe.

The Bellows

The Uilleann bagpipes have a unique component, ‘the bellows,’ instead of blowpipes present in the Scottish pipe. They are located under the dominant hand and are controlled using the elbows; therefore, they are called elbow pipes.

The Chanter

The next crucial part of the Ireland bagpipes is the chanter which is quite different from the Scottish pipe. They have cylindrical bore and- The Irish pipers use double reed, and they are meant to rest on the thighs of the players. 

Therefore, they have to sit and play it to produce a melodic sound, unlike marching and playing like Scottish bagpipe player name -pipers. 

The main difference between Scottish and Irish pipes is that the Scottish can only play a single octave, plus a note. At the same time, the Irish can play a more versatile tune than this. 

They can play two octaves, including all the accidentals, and have a broader scale. As a result, this more exclusive chanter requires vital fingering techniques to produce tuneful sound. 

The Drones

These Irish pipe instruments have drones similar to that of Scottish pipe. However, they can be switched on and off with a switch that produces a melodic tune with multiple rests, a unique feature.

The traditional Irish pipes have three drones similar to the Scottish one. The drones include a tenor, a bass drone, and a baritone. 

The Regulators

The Uilleann bagpipes have a unique feature that is similar to the chanters. This includes the regulators, which are usually three in number in each set. 

These regulators have sprung keys that manage them and produce rhythmic, musical, and harmonizing tunes. 

The Irish bagpipes have more advanced features that make them more expensive than the Scottish bagpipes. 

The answer to how much do bagpipes weigh is that they weigh almost 5.5lbs and measures 40 x 20 inches.

Where Do Bagpipes Originate From?

The Irish bagpipes were developed in the 1700s. At the same time, Scottish bagpipes were invented between the 1500s and 1800s. Hence the answer to are bagpipes Irish or Scottish is clear now.

The uilleann pipes vs. bagpipes have both pros and cons. We have discussed both of them below;

Pros and Cons of Scottish and Irish Bagpipes

Pros of Scottish Bagpipes

  • The bagpipe Scottish is considered a perfect instrument for people who want to enjoy parades and loud melodious tunes.
  • They’re pretty simple to use with easy to find.
  • They’re inexpensive and will not burden your pocket.
  • People usually prefer it as it’s pretty simple to learn. Once you get your hands on it, it becomes very delightful to use.

Cons of Scottish Bagpipes

  • they have minimal scales, and they can only play one octave.
  • For playing with a band pipe, every piper should play it the same as the others.
  • They have a booming sound; therefore, it requires a separate space for practicing
  • They require many practice sessions and immense lung strength and endurance.

Pros of Irish Bagpipes

  • They require lesser lung endurance and physical strength.
  • They can play multiple scales and two octaves, giving a more melodic tune.
  • They have an essential component regulator, which helps in creating more unique themes.
  • Although it has numerous scales and octaves, it’s much easier to handle and use with the exclusive chanter finger technique.
  • They’re much suitable for people who enjoy soft and sweet music indoor.

Cons of Irish Bagpipes

  • They’re high maintenance and pretty more sensitive than the Scottish pipe.
  • They’re also quite expensive.
  • They are not readily available and are pretty rare. Also, the learning process is complex, and it’s tough to find a mentor for it.
  • The tuning, fingering, and air control techniques are pretty tough, and they require a lot of practice to be a perfect player.

We hope that the uilleann pipes vs. Scottish bagpipes are clear and will help you buy the best suitable one for you.

Top 4 Irish Bagpipes for Sale on Amazon

1) Irish Uilleann Bagpipe Upgrade Drone Set Left Hand

It’s a great Irish bagpipe with a tutor book available. Its size is 40 x 20 with a synthetic bag of 30 x 30 size. It is available with a Tartan cover with a matching ultra-black smooth finish outside and glossy silver- nickel finish inside.

This bagpipe like instrument also provides free accessories like one synthetic drone reed set, one cane drone reed set, two cane pipe chanter reed, 1 Patrice chanter reed, and much more.

Available on Amazon

2) Brian Boru, Irish War Bagpipe, Rosewood With 5 Key Chanter

This bagpipe is unique with 5 Extended Key Chanter, Imitation mounts, Synthetic bag, Black Bag cover with Silver Fringe & Black Cord. Also, it provides 1 Set of Synthetic Drone Reeds, 2 Pcs Pipe Chanter Reeds, and a Carrying Case to help you carry it with ease.

Also, it provides an outstanding practice chanter that can be utilized if you’re not much familiar with it to help you practice in the best way possible.

Available on Amazon

3) Irish Uilleann Bagpipe Practice Set 3 Key Chanter Booklet

These Uillean bagpipes provide a Practice Set made of African Blackwood. It can help you play two octaves from Low to high D. The chanter has three nickel keys which provide additional C, G#, and F notes. 

Its main component includes a synthetic airbag, Black velvet bag Cover, Soft carrying case

2 Pcs Cane reed and 2 Pcs Synthetic Reeds. 

Moreover, it also provides Practice Chanter Rose Wood to help you practice playing in the best way possible.

Available on Amazon

4) Uilleann Bagpipe Practice Set (Starter) With 3 Keys Chanter (African Blackwood) Uilleann Pipes

This Irish instrument, like bagpipes, has a highly hand-crafted quality with value Priced and satisfaction guaranteed with 30 days return policy.

This set has 3 Keyed Chanter Nickle Keys in the Key of “D” Drone Cup Installed. You can upgrade this set to a half set or complete set. The Blackwood Uilleann Chanter is designed to be played with the Practice Set, Half set & complete set.

This Uillean bagpipe is a 2019 Model, newly made on Wilbert Garvin Plans. It’s made of African Blackwood, and the chanter plays two octaves from Low to high D. The chanter also has three nickel keys that provide additional C, G#, and F notes.

It also provides 1 Piece Top Class Cane Chanter Reed and an excellent booklet Davy Learn to Play Uilleann Bagpipe. 

It also provides free accessories like Uilleann Practice Chanter with 2 Reeds, a Soft carrying case, and a Black Bag cover with silver fringe.

 Available on Amazon

 The above bagpipes types are the most popular with unique features in the world. We guarantee that they will satisfy the basic need of bagpipes you’re looking for. 

Frequently Ask Questions

Q: Do Irish People Have Bagpipes?

A: Irish people have a great attachment to bagpipes as it’s a part of their tradition. Uilleann pipes are the most famous bagpipes in Ireland. The Irish primarily play the Uilleann pipes, and they like it with a much softer and melodic sound. 

Q: What Are Bagpipes Called in Ireland?

A: Uilleann bagpipes are bagpipes Irish and the most popular bagpipes used by the Irish people. It is much suitable for people who enjoy soft and sweet music indoor.

Q: Do Irish Play the Bagpipes?

A: The answer to do they play bagpipes in Ireland? Yes, Irish people play a type of bagpipe known as the Uilleann pipes. They enjoy the rich sound of the Uilleann pipes so much that they are considered the national bagpipe of Ireland.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Bagpipes and Uilleann Pipes?

A: IRISH BAGPIPES VS SCOTTISH BAGPIPES:

The Irish and Scottish bagpipes are pretty different from each other. The Irish bagpipes typically have two drones – tenor and bass – while the Scottish bagpipes have an extra drone. Also, the Scottish bagpipes are blown by the mouth while Irish bagpipes by inflating the bellows. 

Q: Which came first, Irish or Scottish bagpipes?

A: The Irish bagpipes were developed in the 1700’s. At the same time, Scottish bagpipes were invented between the 1500s and 1800s.

Final Words

This article has briefed you about the two different bagpipes- the Irish Great Highland bagpipes and the Scottish Uilleann bagpipes. We have also summarized Irish vs. Scottish bagpipes with their advantages and disadvantages. 

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