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Scotland: Bagpipes, A National Symbol

The bagpipe is the national instrument of Scotland and is best represented in the music of the Scottish Highlands. Many, who hear the bagpipe played, think of Scotland as the origin of the unique instrument. Although, some of the best music of this type can be traced to Scotland, the instrument has been documented throughout most of ancient history.

There are records, through text and art, which show this instrument first being played in the ancient times of the middle east. This type of instrument was probably the second to arrive after the percussion. Over the years, the bagpipe has taken on a variety of looks and sounds, but the most recognized today is the type that is played by those artisans of the Scottish Highland music.

The three pipes that rise out of the instrument create a constant sound, with a fourth pipe holding nine holes for chord and pitch changes. The bags are usually made of sheep or elk skin and fill with air, which is then pressed by the arm to push the air through. The sound is undeniable when heard and evokes a sense of time-honored tradition for those who love the music of the Scottish Highlands.

Every August pipers from around the world gather in Glasgow for the world championships. This competition runs for a week and showcases the best players. There are many different events scheduled from solo musicians to large bands playing traditional bagpipe music and versions of popular songs of today. Book your flights and accommodations early for this event is extremely popular and most sell-out quickly.

For anyone who loves to try something new, look in your local area for a practitioner of this timeless music and take a lesson. If playing is not what you are looking for than check out one of the many Scottish festivals that form worldwide and enjoy this music that has become the symbol of the people of Scotland.


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