Are bagpipes musical instruments or weapons?

julian

Active Member
In an attempt to foster some lighthearted debate let me share this quote with you that I came across. " Bagpipes were traditionally used during war as a high-pitched sound that would lead the Scots into battle and scare their enemies. The sound worked, and many armies were reportedly terrified as a band of pipers would sound the battle cry. The British followed suit, and bagpipes were used during both world wars. " Musical instruments or weapons of war? - What do you think?.........
 

slaidpog

New Member
I think it was Sir Thomas Beecham who said, when asked, what was the easiest instrument to learn: "the bagpipes, because they sound just as bad when you can play them as when you can't play them!" (To balance the argument, he did not, at times, have the greatest view of brass players either!)
 

julian

Active Member
I don't think he was too fond of opera singers either....." No operatic star has yet died soon enough for me".....Anyway John, back to the porridge guns - musical instruments or weapons of terror?
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
I don't think he was too fond of opera singers either....." No operatic star has yet died soon enough for me".....Anyway John, back to the porridge guns - musical instruments or weapons of terror?
He is also quoted as saying, to a female opera singer complaining about performing a death scene laying on her back, 'Never mind, Madam, I have given some of my best performances in that position'!
 

slaidpog

New Member
Before this thread becomes a Sir Thomas Beecham quote page (no bad thing though - he is one of my conducting heroes) a further thought on the bagpipes - "musical instruments or weapons of war" - I was once in the vicinity of a pipe band tuning up prior to a procession. If that had occurred on the battle field and I was the enemy hearing it I would have thrown down my weapon and fled!
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I love the bagpipes...........when I'm in Ontario and they are being played in the highlands of Scotland! My personal response to the question is they are a fearful weapon. I do of course speak in jest.........or do I?
 

julian

Active Member
Before this thread becomes a Sir Thomas Beecham quote page (no bad thing though - he is one of my conducting heroes) a further thought on the bagpipes - "musical instruments or weapons of war" - I was once in the vicinity of a pipe band tuning up prior to a procession. If that had occurred on the battle field and I was the enemy hearing it I would have thrown down my weapon and fled!
Tuning up! - Really?
 

GER

Active Member
The British followed suit, and bagpipes were used during both world wars. " Musical instruments or weapons of war? - What do you think?.........
So if you had the scots on one side of the battlefield merrily playing and terrifying and the english on the other side doing the same, did you have a mob of terrified soldiers in the middle? I think when you see the films of the old battles the reason the two armies were running at each other screaming was to get away from the bagpipes, chopping each others heads off with axes being preferable than listening to the bagpipes. I may be wrong, but it's a plausible theory
 

julian

Active Member
So if you had the scots on one side of the battlefield merrily playing and terrifying and the english on the other side doing the same, did you have a mob of terrified soldiers in the middle? I think when you see the films of the old battles the reason the two armies were running at each other screaming was to get away from the bagpipes, chopping each others heads off with axes being preferable than listening to the bagpipes. I may be wrong, but it's a plausible theory
Yep. Sounds about right to me!!
 
When I'm in the mood, bagpipes sound interesting. Otherwise, they remind me of a dentist's drill used without novocaine. So, to answer the question, bagpipes are psychological weapons.
 

Toxophile

Member
Asking about “bagpipes” is too broad a question. It’s like saying every instrument in a brass band is a trumpet. Is your question about an open or closed chanter set? Mouth or bellows blown? Single note drones or drones with tuning beads? Straight drones or shuttle drones? Small pipes?

Then there’s the assumption all pipes are Scottish, I have English and Scottish smallpipes. MyEnglish small pipes have 7 holes and an additional 7keys on the chanter, I can get up to 17 keys on a chanter.
 

Clyde’73

New Member
If I were the enemy of the Scottish people I would be fearful on hearing the bagpipes start up before or during a battle and rightly so. Why do you think the Roman Empire decided to build Hadrians Wall? They could not defeat the Scots. It also acted as a sound baffle. The highlanders were the first in and last out when it came to the retreat at Dunkirk. Love or loathe the sound they make, they deserve a little more respect, if not the instrument itself but the people who have embraced it as their national heritage and rouse their hearts into battle. I might be biased with the name "Clyde'73" but I am one of those who plays brass and has tried BagPipes and good players have my utmost respect. Not many households or neighbourhoods can put up with badly played pipes so when you hear a good one you know they've probably had to practice for long hours outside on a lonely glen or mountain or Buchannan St to get as good as they are. No Silent Brass mutes for them..
 

John Austin

New Member
In an attempt to foster some lighthearted debate let me share this quote with you that I came across. " Bagpipes were traditionally used during war as a high-pitched sound that would lead the Scots into battle and scare their enemies. The sound worked, and many armies were reportedly terrified as a band of pipers would sound the battle cry. The British followed suit, and bagpipes were used during both world wars. " Musical instruments or weapons of war? - What do you think?.........
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Idon’t think that should venture near the Edinburgh Tattoo. The lone piper at the end of each performance is one of the most moving experiences.
 

James Yelland

Active Member
Reminds me of the old Tommy Cooper joke: my neighbour knocked on my door yesterday at 2 o'clock in the morning. Can you believe it - 2 o'clock in the morning?! Fortunately I was still up, practising my bagpipes.

I once asked a bagpipe player if he could play Over the Hills and Far Away, and luckily he could. He went back to Scotland.

I'm here all week.
 

julian

Active Member
Asking about “bagpipes” is too broad a question. It’s like saying every instrument in a brass band is a trumpet. Is your question about an open or closed chanter set? Mouth or bellows blown? Single note drones or drones with tuning beads? Straight drones or shuttle drones? Small pipes?

Then there’s the assumption all pipes are Scottish, I have English and Scottish smallpipes. MyEnglish small pipes have 7 holes and an additional 7keys on the chanter, I can get up to 17 keys on a chanter.
Did you actually read my post at the top of the thread? - Just asking........
 
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