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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > General Discussion > History, Tradition, Heritage
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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 06-20-2017, 08:15 PM   #1
erracht
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Default Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

Here on the National Museums Scotland collections website is an interesting item, a set of very old drones: http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collect...item_id=633610

They are quite plain and are made of softwood and mounted with bone and horn. They are described as having been part of Lowland bagpipe and are dated to the early 19th century. I cannot vouch for these identifications; I will just mention that to my eye, they bear a striking resemblance to the design of the famous "Waterloo Drones" in the Piping Centre Museum; these are supposed to date well back into the 18th century.

Which museum are these drones located in and did they come with a history?
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Old 06-21-2017, 06:07 AM   #2
K Sanger
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

History, other than that they were in the collection of J & R Glen, no. The most recent description is the Catalogue of the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments volume 2 part G: Bagpipes (2013). On page 72 they are described as a set of drones for Lowland pipes, Probably [made] Scotland Circa 1800-1825.

The catalogue lists the current ownership as the Trustees of the National Museum of Scotland.

Keith

Last edited by K Sanger; 06-21-2017 at 06:09 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 06-21-2017, 07:08 AM   #3
longwind
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

This set looks like one that used to be on display in J & R Glen's shop window. They were made of laburnum, a hardwood.
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Old 06-21-2017, 11:21 AM   #4
Kevin
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

Thanks for the link. It is interesting that there are two tenors and a bass. Is there any established timeline for when that configuration, vs. inclusion of a baritone or alto drone, was popular?

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Old 06-21-2017, 02:17 PM   #5
erracht
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

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Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
Thanks for the link. It is interesting that there are two tenors and a bass. Is there any established timeline for when that configuration, vs. inclusion of a baritone or alto drone, was popular?

Best regards,
Kevin

Good question. The short answer is, there are a lot of surviving "Lowland"/"Border" pipes; excluding private possession, there are quite a few in the NMS, but notably also in the Morpeth Bagpipe Museum in Newcastle and most have the same configuration as the GHB - two tenors, one bass. However, alto drones are found on occasional specimens. These are hard to date (presumably late 18th-early19th century in many cases), but probably they would have been the result of an individual maker's preference or piper's request, rather than a standard feature for the given period. The main exception are the "Northumbrian Half-Long Pipes", a revival of the Border Pipes in the 1920s for use by Scout troops. They were made by James Robertson of Edinburgh and did feature a baritone drone as standard.

Pete Stewart knows a lot about the variations in antique Border Pipe specimens.
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Old 06-22-2017, 06:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

Quote:
Originally Posted by K Sanger View Post
History, other than that they were in the collection of J & R Glen, no. The most recent description is the Catalogue of the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments volume 2 part G: Bagpipes (2013). On page 72 they are described as a set of drones for Lowland pipes, Probably [made] Scotland Circa 1800-1825.

The catalogue lists the current ownership as the Trustees of the National Museum of Scotland.

Keith
This set looks so much like the "Waterloo drones" (which were most probably bellows-blown too, in the beginning) that I mistook it for the "Waterloo's". I have a very similar BP made from fruitwood and horn-mounted.
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:12 AM   #7
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

They are very similar to a bone mounted cocuswood set in the museum where I work. They were dated to about 1810-1820, but were retrofitted with a laburnum blowpipe during the late Victorian period.

We are extremely fortunate to have the original chanter in good condition.

I have no doubt that they were originally bellows blown.
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Old 06-23-2017, 11:18 AM   #8
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Very old "Lowland" drones in the NMS

I believe the bass-tenor-tenor (A-a-a) combination was the most common one for bellows-blown, conically-bored-chanter pipes (what we'd call border pipes today) prior to the 20th century. Instruments with drones playing non-tonic notes started appearing later, and then again during the modern bellows-pipe revival. A-a-a is still a common configuration for border pipes, and I've seen the occasional Scottish Smallpipe (cylindrically-bored chanter) set up that way, too. Drones playing D/E or d/e have become more common in the last few decades.
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