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Bagpipes of Scotland

Scottish bagpipes - Bagpipes of Scotland - piob-mhor - Great Highland Bagpipe

ABOVE: Pipers in Glencoe make music with the piob-mhor, or Great Highland Bagpipe.

A trip to Nashville or Branson would be incomplete without country music. In the same way, a tour of Scotland demands at least one encounter with the bagpipes--or more specifically, with the piob-mhor, or Great Highland Bagpipe, whose stirring drone led the British government to classify the pipes as an "instrument of war" after Bonnie Prince Charlie led Scotland's final (and futile) uprising against English tyranny in 1745. As Sir Iain Montcreiffe wrote in Alistair Maclean Introduces Scotland, "The Government banned the tartan, the pipes, and the kilt: thus enshrining all three in our hearts for ever."

Scotland offers many opportunities to hear bagpipe concerts, competitions, and festival performances. Check with local tourist offices as you travel around Scotland, and there's a good chance that a piping event will coincide with your visit.

The Web sites listed below tell everything you need to know about Scottish bagpipes, including where you can buy a piob-mhor and learn to play it. Several of the pages include links to sound files of bagpipe performances.

Web links

General information

The Universe of Bagpipes
Oliver Seeler's all-encompassing piping site has bagpipe descriptions, photos, sound clips, and a handy Illustrated Bagpipe Glossary.

Bagpipe Web Directory
Bob Dunsire serves up hundreds of links to bagpipe bands, clubs, contests, festivals, clothiers, etc. in Scotland and abroad.

Bagpipe makers and dealers

Kilberry Bagpipes
This Edinburgh firm makes bagpipes on the premises, in a workshop that's open to visitors.

R T Shepherd & Son
You've probably never heard of Cardenden, Fife, but the town's resident bagpipe maker ships pipes and reeds to customers in 41 countries.

Instruction and museum

The National Piping Centre
In addition to piping courses, the National Piping Centre offers a museum, tours, piping competitions, and even a venue for weddings in its historic building, the Old Cowcaddens Church.

Odds and ends

The Bagpipes Go to the Movies
Scott Williams and Alistair B. Fraser have put together a remarkable compendium of films that feature bagpipes.