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Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from different regions throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the Caucasus.

The term is equally correct in the singular or plural, although in the English language, pipers most commonly talk of "pipes."



A set of bagpipes minimally consists of an air supply, a bag, a chanter, and usually a drone. Most bagpipes also have additional drones (and sometimes chanters) in various combinations, held in place in stocks—connectors that fasten the various pipes to the bag.

Air supply

The most common method of supplying air to the bag is by blowing into a blowpipe, or blowstick. In some pipes the player must cover the tip of the blowpipe with his tongue while inhaling, but modern blowpipes have a non-return valve that eliminates this need.

An innovation, dating from the 16th or 17th centuries, is the use of a bellows to supply air. In these pipes, sometimes called cauld wind pipes, air is not heated or moistened by the player's breathing, so bellows-driven bagpipes can use more refined and/or delicate reeds. The most famous of these pipes are the Irish uilleann pipes, the Northumbrian smallpipes in Britain, and the Musette de cour in France.

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