Early instruments had bags made of the skins of small animals, such as goats or sheep, or of the stomach of a larger animal.
A favorite instrument in classical Greece and Rome, bagpipes’ rhythm paced the Roman foot soldiers’ march. They were often used as shepherd’s instruments.
According to tradition, it was the Romans who brought the first bagpipes to Britain. By 1500 the bagpipe had displaced the harp as the instrument of choice in the Scottish Highlands.
The use of the bagpipes as a military instrument inspired the Highlanders in their fight so much that after the 1746 Battle of Culloden, bagpipes were banned by the English. During this period carrying a bagpipe was considered to be as much a crime as carrying arms as it was classified an “instrument of war”.
When a reckless piper broke this law, a court ruled that “no highland regiment ever marched without a piper” and that therefore in the eyes of the law, his bagpipe was an instrument of war. He was executed on November 6, 1746.
At the Alamo, Davy Crockett on fiddle and John McGregor on bagpipes tried to drown out the Mexican troops’ song of death.
The German philosopher Nietzsche wrote: “What trifles constitute happiness! The sound of a bagpipe. Without music life would be a mistake!”
Euro 96 organizers put bagpipes on a list of offensive weapons that had to be left at stadium entrances, along with fireworks and gas cannisters.
The world record for the largest bagpipe ensemble consisted of 333 participants at an event organised by the Art of Living Foundation in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 16, 2012. The attempt used traditional Bulgarian “kaba gaida” bagpipes which are from the Rhodope region of Bulgaria.
A fungal infection known as ‘brytococcus neoformans’ can fester inside bagpipes and cause disease in the player’s lungs.
The U.S. has more bagpipe bands than Scotland does.
When she is in London, Queen Elizabeth II is awoken by a bagpiper playing outside her window.
Jonathan Davis, lead singer for Korn, played in his high school bagpipe band.
Three famous modern day songs with bagpipes:
Mull of Kintyre by Wings
It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) by AC/DC
Biko by Peter Gabriel
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