Bagpipes, that most maligned of instruments, is actually an instrument that is capable of all manner of emotions, ranging happily from deeply melancholic (like a good Scot drunk on a Saturday evening) through happy to totally weird.
To set the mood, here is a very standard sort of pipe playing, to give a measuring point to judge the ones that will follow against.
I am not sure whose funeral this was, but the music is pretty standard pipe music Not the real Celtic thing thus.
Whilst for most people, the video above more or less typifies the general conception of what bagpipe music is, the reality is very different, as you will hear in the next video, which is a lament, and is deeply thoughtful and introspective. Rather beautiful in fact I find.
The first time I actually heard the pipes being played was during one of the winter tours of Scotland we used to make with the Little Angle Puppet Theatre, when we were up in the highlands, miles from anywhere, and dimly through the mist we heard the sound of the pipes being played in the fashion of that lament.
It was amazing, we stopped our van and simply sat there beside the road and listened to the magical sound of the pipes, and felt at one with the highland landscape we were in. Deeply moved by the introverted music we were hearing faintly through the mist.
After a while we started up again, and drove on. And duly found our piper, a guy standing beside his car at the side of the road, obviously banned from home when he wanted to practice his pipe playing.
Actually, the bagpipe in one form or another is found in many parts of the world, not necessarily introduced by the Scots. For example here we have the Breton pipes to give you an idea.
Or conversely, here we have an example of Rumanian bagpipe music…. Has the same feel obviously, that is inherent in the instrument obviously. A mix of fixed tuned drones and a single flute will always produce much the same sound, but the music is obviously very different.
Or you can have silliness too, here are a couple of examples of that, firstly we have a daft bit of bagpipe duelling for the favours of an embarrassingly coy girl, Musically only mildly interesting, but fun nonetheless..
Or this, a sort of Street Punk playing the pipes as a busker…. He plays it well I have to confess, and certainly gives a good show as well.. Love the flame-thrower!
And finally, perhaps one of the best uses of the pipes.. as a form of mourning at a friend’s funeral…
Nothing to be added to that I feel.. it really does speak for itself!