The electronic bagpipes are electronic musical instruments emulating the tone and playing style of the bagpipes. Almost all electronic bagpipe emulators feature a simulated chanter, which plays the melody. There are also models that produce harmonizing drones.
For decades, professional and amateur musicians have frequently utilized electronic bagpipes for rehearsals and even live performances.
They were formerly only a curious oddity.
What Are Electronic Bagpipes?
A musical instrument that mimics the bagpipe’s tone or playing technique is called an electronic bagpipe.
A mimicked chanter is a common feature of electronic bagpipe emulators and is used to play the tune.
Some types can also create a drone that plays music.
A few uncommon variations use a mimicked bag, in which the player presses down on the bag to trigger a switch that keeps the tone steady, or they can replicate a pipe that employs variable bag pressure, like the Uilleann pipes.
The majority function via a series of electrical contacts that are more likely to malfunction in the case of dry skin.
Despite the high expense, optical contacts have been used in experiments.
How Do Electronic Bagpipes Work?
It’s a bag with pipes that serves as a musical instrument—primarily consisting of drones and chanter.
The bag you see is mostly fully inflated from two sources: mouth blowing into the bag via a pipe or pumping air into the bag with a bellow.
The air escapes via a reed placed in a pipe, vibrating and thus sounding and acquiring different tonalities based on the pipe’s length and dimensions.
One specific pipe, or possibly two, is now drilled with holes to develop the melodies (of course, this pipe also has a reed to make it sound), which is frequently referred to as a “chanter.”
One of the most meticulous and “well cared for” elements of the entire set is the chanter, which may be very expensive because it must be precisely manufactured to be tuned.
Then there are the drones, pipes with reeds inside that produce continuous background noise.
How to Play Electronic Bagpipes?
A clear knowledge of the relation between sound and pressure, the proper stance, and strong lungs are all necessary for blowing the bagpipes correctly.
To begin playing the bagpipes, you must become familiar with each component’s function, operation, and proper placement.
Play notes on a practice chanter and practice controlling your breath for two minutes each day to improve your bagpiping. You’ll soon be playing lovely music if you’re persistent and practice sufficiently!
Is It Hard to Play Electronic Bagpipes?
No. The bagpipes are surprisingly simple to begin studying.
All you require is a book, a teacher, and a practice chanter.
A specific device with a single reed is the practice chanter.
It’s a long-lasting investment because you’ll use it for fundamental practice and learning new tunes.
What Are Electronic Bagpipes Made Of?
The late piper and electronics engineer Bazzell Ray Cowan from Austin, Texas, used the shape and size of an extruded plastic “bag” to house the first model’s components.
They included a chanter (the melody pipe) with transistors, gold-plated metal contacts, and a speaker linked to a motherboard and operated by a 6-volt lantern battery.
With time and technological advancement, he reduced its size until, by the early nineties, only a chanter with a 6 x 4-inch plastic box on top that contained all the parts, along with a 2-inch speaker driven by a 9-volt battery.
It had evolved into one of the genre’s well-known techniques by the time of his death in 1996.
The Bazpipe would serve as the inspiration for several later electronic pipes.
Electronic Bagpipes History
Since there’s just one industrial musical device on the marketplace, it would seem acceptable to wait until some of the less desirable characteristics of transistors are eliminated.
The first workable electronic bagpipe with an authentic pipe sound was created in the late 1970s by the late Austin, Texas, electronics engineer and piper Bazzell Ray Cowan, who went by the name of bagpipe.
As per Mr. Cowan (in a 1993 interview), the concept was initially a result of a wager made with some other piper at a wedding, he claimed.
The players used an extruded plastic “bag” the shape and size of a standard bagpipe to house the first model’s components, which included a chanter (the melody pipe) with transistors, gold-plated metal contacts, and a speaker linked to a motherboard and fueled by a 6-volt lantern battery.
With time and technological advancement, he reduced its size until, by the early nineties, only a chanter with a 6 x 4-inch plastic box on top that contained all the parts, along with a 2-inch speaker fueled by a 9-volt battery.
It had evolved into one of the genre’s well-known techniques by the time of his demise in 1996.
The bagpipe would serve as the inspiration for several later electronic pipes.
Electronic Bagpipe Players
Hevia was the first company to use an electronic bagpipe for performance purposes.
Over two million copies of Hevia’s CD “No Man’s Land” were sold globally after its 1998 release; ever since, the electronic bagpipe has cemented its place as a flexible instrument in the European bagpiping tradition’s new musical language.
The ancient instruments were mostly considered to be exciting artifacts or, at most, practice instruments.
Nevertheless, several of the finest players of all time eventually adopted them.
James McColl, one of the most well-known senior Scottish pipers, was an early adopter.
He continues to train and perform using an early Boyd pipe.
Sean Folsom, a former member of the California-based Celtic band Shiela and Gig, was yet another early adoption of the electronic bagpipe as a performing instrument.
In the early nineties, he included a Bazpipe in his extensive exhibition of global bagpipes and other instruments.
A fellow piper was introduced to the Bagpipe by Folsom, who quickly identified its potential and used it in concerts with his band and on their recording.
Given that their use is now common, it is likely that others were acting similarly.
What Are Electronic Redpipes?
Electronic red pipe enables you to perform along with any instrument.
The red pipe imitates the feel and looks of a genuine bagpipe because of its high-quality McCallum Bagpipes chanter, innovative electronics, and pressure-sensitive leather bag.
What Are Digital Chanters?
Digital chanters are simple devices with finger holes; the Digital Chanter allows you to play the sounds of the small Scottish pipe, world-class Highland Bagpipe, or Practice Chanter.
It also has a memory for an extra six varieties of bagpipes that can be downloaded via the free Blair Digital Bagpipes App (free).
How Much Do Electronic Bagpipes Cost?
An electronic bagpipe costs you between $100 and $600, although, as was already mentioned, the cost considerably depends on the instrument’s decorating.
Consider these hints: Most chanters produced in the last twenty years are constructed of plastic, making them excellent tools for both beginning and advanced pipers.