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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 01-29-2019, 09:31 AM   #1
erracht
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Default Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

This is a question that has been bugging me for a long time and I was wondering what kinds of views were out there on the matter. One of the oldest and most famous preserved specimens of a Scottish bagpipe is a set now in the National Museums Scotland, said to have been played by a Mackay at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and by another Mackay at George IV's entry to Edinburgh in 1822. The story seems to have come from the antique dealer with whom the pipes were sourced a century ago; certainly the drones (and likely the blowpipe) would date to well back in the 18th century, though the fully combed and beaded stocks and the chanter are modern replacements. the drones were copied by Julian Goodacre for his reproduction 18th-century bagpipe, which can be seen (and heard) on this link: https://goodbagpipes.com/index.php/my-bagpipes/scottish-bagpipes/great-highland-bagpipe (the chanter is a copy of the "Iain Dall Mackay" chanter, which is probably even older; the blowpipe and stocks are "made to match").

The thing is, the view has been expressed multiple times that the drones were recycled from a common-stock bagpipe (I.E. a set of "Lowland"/"Border" pipes). I definitely see where this comes from, but am not entirely convinced in the matter. I would appreciate a discussion on this theory to see if the preponderance of the evidence lies on either the possibility that the drones are a conversion from a common-stock pipe or that they were always part of a separate-stock arrangement.

Some arguments in favor of the drones coming from a common-stock bagpipe:

-They show similarities in styling and proportion to at least one or two known sets of ancient Border drones.
-The overall proportions of multiple old Border pipe drones are similar in broad terms to these ones.
-The button mounts are very small, and could conceivably fit a common stock.
-There are quite a few known cases of formerly common-stock ("Lowland") drones that were re-made as part of mouth-blown "Highland" pipes in the late 18th or the 19th century (e.g. the pipes in the Kelvingrove Museum, the set in the NMS that may have been played in the Gordon Fencibles).

Some arguments in favor of the drones always having come from a separate-stock bagpipe:

-The drones, while very slim compared to modern Highland drones, seem to me to be nonetheless a bit too thick for a common stock to accommodate. If they were once in a ommon stock, it must have been a bulky one. I believe they are also longer than various Lowland-type drones (though surprisingly large Lowland-type drones have been found as well).
-They came with a blowpipe that looks ancient (however, the styling, while similar, is not in all respects identical to the drones; it's hard to say for sure if it is original to the set).
-The design corresponds to what we know of early Highland bagpipes (note the similarity to the c. 1760 sketch of Joseph MacDonald, included on the link above). Likely at that time, the drones of "Highland" pipes and "Border" pipes would have been more similar than they were at a later date, and might have been virtually interchangeable in certain cases.
-They simply work quite well as Highland drones. The sound is more subdued than that of modern drones, but then again, so are, e.g. old MacDougalls - and Highland pipes did have smaller proportions in the past in general.


So what views are out there on this question? Can any other arguments be made either way?
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:03 PM   #2
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

About the argument in favour of them being bellows drones due to them resembling sets of bellows-blown common-stock pipes, my impression was that the Highland pipes underwent a dramatic style change that in many cases didn't impact bellows pipes until rather later. Even today one sees turnery on uilleann pipes, smallpipes, and border pipes which hasn't been commonly seen on Highland pipes since the 18th century.

I had imagined that, say, in the first half of the 18th century the turnery on bellows pipes and Highland pipes was fairly similar.

Wouldn't those chalice bells be rather big for common-stock pipes?
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:09 AM   #3
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

It's not necessarily true that all bellows driven pipes had a common stock.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:56 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

No, and that's a mystery with the "classic" maker's lists that I asked Jeannie Campbell about in 2007. She said she didn't know... perhaps more information has come to light since.

Alexander Glen 1849:
I. The Great Highland or Military bagpipe.
II. Half-size or Reel Pipe, blown with the mouth or with bellows.
III. Lovat Reel Pipe, blown with the mouth or with bellows.
IV. Highland Miniature Pipe.

Alexander Glen 1860:
#1. The Great Highland or Military Bagpipe.
#2. Half-size or Reel Pipe, blown with the mouth or with bellows.
#3. Second Size Reel Pipe, blown with the mouth or with bellows.
#4. Highland Miniature Pipe.

Peter Henderson 1888:
#1. The Great Highland or Military Bagpipe.
#2. Half Size or Reel Pipe.
#3. Second Size Reel Pipe.
#4. Highland Miniature Pipe.

Peter Henderson 1930:
1. Full Size.
2. Half and Reel size. (Implying that Half and Reel are two different sizes, both designated #2.)
3. Miniature size.

My questions are

1) What was the difference between the #2 Half Size or Reel Pipe and the #3 Second Size or Lovat Reel Pipe? (There's a difference in price, the #3 Second Size is cheaper.)

2) Why does the #3 Second Size or Lovat Reel Pipe disappear from all the maker's lists?

3) Can we look at surviving 19th and early 20th century three-quarter size Highland pipes and know which sets would have been called #2 and which #3?

Too bad the lists say nothing about the stock arrangement.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:48 PM   #5
erracht
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Sanderson View Post
It's not necessarily true that all bellows driven pipes had a common stock.
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Absolutely right. The example that you included above is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and interestingly has a common-stock doppelganger at the Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/502089 - I suspect these were made by one of the Glens.

In his 1988 "The Highland Bagpipe and its Music", Roderick Cannon mentions reel pipes with bellows and separate stocks. I think he said that the last known player of such a set died in 1976. I have seen a lot of specimens and know of only about four sets with bellows and separate stocks; one is the one you included; the others are all somehow connected to Canada (e.g. an archaic-looking, more or less full-size set claimed to have been sourced there that ended up in the College of Piping Museum) and the bellows may be retrofits. I don't imagine it would be an altogether convenient arrangement to have to balance three drones on one shoulder and negotiate a bellows under the other.



Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
My questions are

1) What was the difference between the #2 Half Size or Reel Pipe and the #3 Second Size or Lovat Reel Pipe? (There's a difference in price, the #3 Second Size is cheaper.)

2) Why does the #3 Second Size or Lovat Reel Pipe disappear from all the maker's lists?

3) Can we look at surviving 19th and early 20th century three-quarter size Highland pipes and know which sets would have been called #2 and which #3?

Too bad the lists say nothing about the stock arrangement.
These are all good questions. I agree that it's too bad the lists say nothing about the stock arrangement and here there is probably a lot of room for conjecture. I suspect that a lot of "reel" pipes would have been made with a common stock like a Border pipe (and for some, there may have been no difference between a "reel pipe" and a "Border pipe" - there are Highland pipers who are known to have owned a set of bellows pipes, not the least of which was Malcolm "Calum Piobaire" MacPherson). This may have been because the maker made it that way to begin with, or because the customer requested a common stock. Who knows? One of the Glen catalogs that offers reel pipes with bellows does also mention at the very bottom that all manner of "lowcountry" pipes may be manufactured, so maybe they made "reel" pipes and "Lowland/Border" pipes differently, but in what way, we don't know and again, it might have depended on what the customer asked for.

To attempt to address the more specific questions, first 1) and 3): The second size would almost certainly be the smaller one. The term "Lovat Reel Pipe", which I am not aware where it comes from, is as I understand the smaller one. The difference in size may not have been strictly set in stone and might well have varied from maker to maker, as the size of Border pipes seems to have. However, in general, the first size is generally larger, what would be referred by some as a "3/4-size" pipe (likely closer to 7/8-size) and would mainly have been meant for more diminutive players, whereas the second size/Lovat Reel Pipe would have been substantially smaller and probably meant mainly for indoor dance use, perhaps also to accommodate a very small child. I have seen a small boy play such a set in competition at a Highland Games. The chanter was a modern full-size replacement but the drones were very small reel pipe drones, likely very old, and were almost drowned out by the chanter. To put things in perspective, some correspondence of the mid-19th-century maker John Cameron (Dundee) survives where one of his regimental customers asks for a set for a boy piper and actually gives the boy's height so he can size the pipes accordingly. As for 2), it's really hard to say why the smaller size was dropped and maybe someone else can answer this question better, but I would suspect it might have had something to do with a decline of using pipes for indoor dance music (just a guess as I don't know if the time period of such a decline would correspond with the time when the makers stopped offering these pipes). Perhaps they conflated the two sizes or started offering just the one which was more popular?
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Old 02-02-2019, 07:22 AM   #6
Barry Shears
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Default Re: Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

The bellows pipes were more popular in the 19th century when pipers played more for social dancing rather than the display dances such as Sean Truibhas, sword dance etc, and since they play for long periods of time bellows worked well for the keeping the pipes in tune longer. I have heard that 19th century pipe makers had a lots of bits and pieces laying around and so this sparked a interest in making smaller forms of the bagpipe to use bits of wood and ivory too small for GHB manufacture. Not sure how true this story is. Some sets were made specifically for bellows but other like the Cape Breton set you mentioned may have been adapted for the performer to still play despite developing a breathing disease such as emphysema. This appears to be the case with John MacIntyre's bagpipe. The image I have shows two tenor drones, a bass of slightly different manufacture, and a blowpipe, but before the pipes were refurbished they had a bellows attached. There are several sets of two droned pipes in Nova Scotia and some of these are featured in my new collection of music and history. A few of the sets have had a bass drone added but in most cases this was a much later addition obviously not by the same maker. My brother picked up a set of border pipes , below blown from the mid 19th century and they are a lovely set despite the bass drone top section having been broken off and lost . I suspect many of the estate pipers owned both highland and bellows blown sets.Scottish settlement to Nova Scotia was mostly from the West coast and Hebrides and except for Macintyre 's pipes and the College of Piping set I have yet to discover bellows blown pipes from the immigrant period. Although the pipes researched are usually more slender than modern GHB they appear too big for a common stock. I have no idea why there were so many different classes of smaller pipes advertised, unless it was perhaps a marketing gimmick to differentiate products between makers. or maybe to reflect regional names for similar smaller pipes still in use, much the same way border pipes are referred to as reel pipes and half longs today. Ray Sloan has written about nomenclature for some of these instruments,
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Last edited by Barry Shears; 02-02-2019 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 02-02-2019, 03:45 PM   #7
Glenurquhart
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Default Re: Were the drones of the NMS' "Waterloo Pipes" from a bellows-blown Border pipe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erracht View Post
Absolutely right. The example that you included above is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and interestingly has a common-stock doppelganger at the Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/502089 - I suspect these were made by one of the Glens.

In his 1988 "The Highland Bagpipe and its Music", Roderick Cannon mentions reel pipes with bellows and separate stocks. I think he said that the last known player of such a set died in 1976. I have seen a lot of specimens and know of only about four sets with bellows and separate stocks; one is the one you included; the others are all somehow connected to Canada (e.g. an archaic-looking, more or less full-size set claimed to have been sourced there that ended up in the College of Piping Museum) and the bellows may be retrofits. I don't imagine it would be an altogether convenient arrangement to have to balance three drones on one shoulder and negotiate a bellows under the other.





These are all good questions. I agree that it's too bad the lists say nothing about the stock arrangement and here there is probably a lot of room for conjecture. I suspect that a lot of "reel" pipes would have been made with a common stock like a Border pipe (and for some, there may have been no difference between a "reel pipe" and a "Border pipe" - there are Highland pipers who are known to have owned a set of bellows pipes, not the least of which was Malcolm "Calum Piobaire" MacPherson). This may have been because the maker made it that way to begin with, or because the customer requested a common stock. Who knows? One of the Glen catalogs that offers reel pipes with bellows does also mention at the very bottom that all manner of "lowcountry" pipes may be manufactured, so maybe they made "reel" pipes and "Lowland/Border" pipes differently, but in what way, we don't know and again, it might have depended on what the customer asked for.

To attempt to address the more specific questions, first 1) and 3): The second size would almost certainly be the smaller one. The term "Lovat Reel Pipe", which I am not aware where it comes from, is as I understand the smaller one. The difference in size may not have been strictly set in stone and might well have varied from maker to maker, as the size of Border pipes seems to have. However, in general, the first size is generally larger, what would be referred by some as a "3/4-size" pipe (likely closer to 7/8-size) and would mainly have been meant for more diminutive players, whereas the second size/Lovat Reel Pipe would have been substantially smaller and probably meant mainly for indoor dance use, perhaps also to accommodate a very small child. I have seen a small boy play such a set in competition at a Highland Games. The chanter was a modern full-size replacement but the drones were very small reel pipe drones, likely very old, and were almost drowned out by the chanter. To put things in perspective, some correspondence of the mid-19th-century maker John Cameron (Dundee) survives where one of his regimental customers asks for a set for a boy piper and actually gives the boy's height so he can size the pipes accordingly. As for 2), it's really hard to say why the smaller size was dropped and maybe someone else can answer this question better, but I would suspect it might have had something to do with a decline of using pipes for indoor dance music (just a guess as I don't know if the time period of such a decline would correspond with the time when the makers stopped offering these pipes). Perhaps they conflated the two sizes or started offering just the one which was more popular?
Years ago I donated a fragment of an 18th-century pipe in laburnum to the EUCHMI collection, Edinburgh; this fragment retained a very old bag, possibly mid-19th century made from very soft sheepskin and equipped both with two separate stocks for the two drones (bass and tenor) and with a large hole for a common stock, which was replaced with a wooden stopper tied in like a drone stock. The bag also retained two blowpipe stocks for mouth and bellows, so the large stopper was obviously intended as a temporary and convertible or reversible substitute. The separate stocks made from fruitwood did not match the surviving laburnum drone bottom joints which ware older and had seen much more use. It is very likely that these drones were initially made for a common stock, and that an early owner of the set wanted both options. Interestingly the tenor still had a very early (and perfectly working) cane reed adapted to the large conical reed seat with a conical stopper turned from some light wood for a hempless and perfectly airtight fit. Otherwise it would have been lost a long time ago.

A long time ago I discussed the matter of the "Waterloo" drones being possibly a bellows-blown pipe with Hugh Cheape, and later on we inspected the set together at the NPC museum. The argument of the drones being fairly large for a common stock is to be taken into account but I have a pipe of a very similar style, make and vintage which has the original common stock, and several other cases of slender 18th-century drones retrofitted with not matching separate stocks and blowpipes can be found in museums, including the NMS (e. g. the pipes bought by Hugh Cheape for the NMS and published in his 2008 book). I also have such a set, possibly by the same maker who made a pipe in the Duncan Fraser collection (NMS) that Duncan Fraser transformed into a "Highland" pipe with stocks made to match.

Anyway, the fragment of a convertible bagpipe in the EUCHMI collection suggests that the question of "bellows versus mouth" is irrelevant for early pipes and that the choice could well have been a matter of personal preference, or circumstance. Playing a bellows-powered set in battle with the bellows strapped to your arm is not covenient for a piper who might need to walk or run on uneven ground and use his sword and dirk to defend himself. And, of course, louder reeds for open-air piping requires greater pressure than bellows can provide.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:21 PM   #8
erracht
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Shears View Post
I have no idea why there were so many different classes of smaller pipes advertised, unless it was perhaps a marketing gimmick to differentiate products between makers. or maybe to reflect regional names for similar smaller pipes still in use, much the same way border pipes are referred to as reel pipes and half longs today. Ray Sloan has written about nomenclature for some of these instruments
As I recall, Sloan considered "Border pipes" to be a misnomer and IIRC also something of a neologism. He's certainly right in that there are instances of these pipes being played across a wide area; one illustration suggests that they made it as far as Wales. I didn't write this the other day, but I have found at least one historical, if peripheral reference to this kind of instrument as a "reel pipe" - in O'Neill's "Irish Minstrels and Musicians" (1913), in which there is a reference to one Joseph Cant who "Occasionally turns out a new set of pipes the half size reel set with stock and bellows being his favorite". The mention of the stock would clearly imply a common stock. What I think can be surmised is that different people referred to these pipes by different terms and that neither "Lowland", nor even less "Border" is probably a truly accurate term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenurquhart View Post
Years ago I donated a fragment of an 18th-century pipe in laburnum to the EUCHMI collection, Edinburgh; this fragment retained a very old bag, possibly mid-19th century made from very soft sheepskin and equipped both with two separate stocks for the two drones (bass and tenor) and with a large hole for a common stock, which was replaced with a wooden stopper tied in like a drone stock. The bag also retained two blowpipe stocks for mouth and bellows, so the large stopper was obviously intended as a temporary and convertible or reversible substitute. The separate stocks made from fruitwood did not match the surviving laburnum drone bottom joints which ware older and had seen much more use. It is very likely that these drones were initially made for a common stock, and that an early owner of the set wanted both options. Interestingly the tenor still had a very early (and perfectly working) cane reed adapted to the large conical reed seat with a conical stopper turned from some light wood for a hempless and perfectly airtight fit. Otherwise it would have been lost a long time ago.

...

Anyway, the fragment of a convertible bagpipe in the EUCHMI collection suggests that the question of "bellows versus mouth" is irrelevant for early pipes and that the choice could well have been a matter of personal preference, or circumstance. Playing a bellows-powered set in battle with the bellows strapped to your arm is not covenient for a piper who might need to walk or run on uneven ground and use his sword and dirk to defend himself. And, of course, louder reeds for open-air piping requires greater pressure than bellows can provide.
I have said this before - I think this fragment is a very significant find. A lot can be learned from it, and I think you make a good point that the configuration could have resulted from personal preference or circumstance and these pipes serve as strong evidence of this.
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