International Bagpipe Day is held annually on March 10. Can you believe that bagpipes date back to 400 B.C., and are thought to have originated from Egypt, with the first players known as pipers of Thebes? Bagpipes are distinct and unique musical instruments that hold a special place in certain parts of Europe, such as Scotland and Ireland.
History of International Bagpipe Day
A bagpipe is a type of woodwind instrument that consists of several parts including the air supply blowpipe, the bag, the chanter, the chanter reed, and the drone or drones. The chanter is the melody pipe that can be played by the piper, whereas the drone or drones provide a constant note. It has a long and rich history that dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt.
In the early part of the second millennium, clear evidence of bagpipes began to appear frequently in Western European art and iconography. They were also popular subjects for carvers of wooden choir stalls throughout Europe in the late 15th century and early 16th century.
Andy Letcher and Cassandre Balosso-Bardin co-founded International Bagpipe Day with the International Bagpipe Organization and the Bagpipe Society. Since 1986, the Bagpipe Society has been actively involved in bringing together new bagpipe players in order to preserve the history and practice of bagpipes. Cassandre came up with the idea of organizing a bagpipe conference as part of his efforts to promote the diversity of bagpipes to a wider audience.
The First International Bagpipe Conference, which gathered musicians and instrument makers from all over Europe, launched International Bagpipe Day worldwide. Thousands of pipers around the world now celebrate the day every year, with many local pipers organizing events in places such as Harvard (U.S.), Glasgow (U.K.), Haninge (Sweden), Minsk (Belarus), Iran, and Nigeria.
International Bagpipe Day timeline
The first known mention of the Irish bagpipe is in Henry VIII's siege of Boulogne, where they are being used by Irish troops.
Playing the Bagpipe is banned in Scotland partly due to its connection with the war.
In his book "Complete Theory," Joseph MacDonald attempts the first serious study of the Scottish Highland bagpipe and its music
Rostock finds a painting of a bagpipe Chanter from the late 14th century to the first quarter of the 15th century.
International Bagpipe Day FAQs
How much does a bagpipe cost?
The cost of bagpipes varies, starting at around $300 and rising to almost $7,000. You can get plastic bagpipes for sale between $200 and $500, whereas those with Blackwood will cost between $2,000 and $6,000.
How many notes are there in a bagpipe?
The bagpipe can play nine notes, from G to A; however, there are no sharp or flats, so there is no need for a key signature.
How loud is a bagpipe?
The sound made by just one set of bagpipes equals between 115 and 121 decibels — as loud as a chainsaw. Hence, many bagpipers wear earplugs to avoid going deaf from their music.
International Bagpipe Day Activities
Learn to play the bagpipes
This is an ideal day to learn how to play the bagpipes. Watch online tutorial videos, or better yet, find an experienced piper willing to put you through your paces. Who knows, you might be on your way to a career as a professional piper!
Listen to songs featuring bagpipes
Several songs feature bagpipes as prominent instruments. Enjoy some of them including popular songs such as ‘Come Talk to Me,’ by Peter Gabriel, and Van Morrison’s ‘Celtic Ray.’
If you’re a bagpiper, this is a great day to teach others about the art form. Take out an hour or two to teach them, and you will feel the joy that comes from helping others learn what you know more than they will.
5 Facts About Bagpipes That Will Fascinate You
Varied in materials of construction
They were traditionally made from whole animal skin, often a sheep’s skin, but in modern times, are usually made with artificial fabric such as Gore-Tex.
It was loved by a Roman Emperor
The ancient Roman emperor Nero was a notorious piper, who is said to have played the bagpipes as Rome burned
Once an instrument of warfare
They were originally used to scare off enemies on the battlefield, and are the only known musical instrument in history to have been used in war.
It is popular in the U.S.
These days, bagpiping has become so popular that there are more bagpipe bands in the U.S. than there are in Scotland.
It is symbolic
Over the years, the bagpipe has become a symbol of mourning for fallen heroes, especially firefighters and policemen.
Why We Love International Bagpipe Day
It unites us through music
This day brings together all fans of bagpipe music and allows them to connect over a shared interest. Beneficial relationships are built through this platform.
It highlights the rich history of bagpipes
Bagpipes have been playing for quite some time now. This day helps shine the light on the early days of this remarkable woodwind instrument and promotes appreciation for it.
Bagpipes are iconic
Bagpipes are a unique and rare musical instrument, and this day helps us appreciate them even more. They simply deserve a special day all to themselves.
International Bagpipe Day dates