Scottish terminology

A small excerpt from the extensive glossary of MacEge’s Handbook of Scottish Bagpipes.

The comprehensive guide to handling, care, technique and maintenance of the Great Highland Bagpipe.

by Reinhold Ege

african blackwoodGrenadilla wood. Dalbergia melanoxylon. Today the most widely used wood for bagpipes and other high-quality woodwind instruments. Rare and expensive.
bagAirbag. Leather or Goretex windsock. Serves as an air reservoir.
bagpipe Bagpipes, bagpipes. In this glossary, we mainly talk about the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), the Scottish bagpipe. If other bagpipes are addressed, this is explicitly stated.
blowpipeBlowpipe, blowing tube, for filling the windsock with air. Includes mouthpiece and valve.
bridleTuning cuffs on drone reeds and on plastic chanter reeds. By moving the bridle, the actual tone of the reed can be changed.
brushesBrushes, offered as a set. Serve to clean the pipe after playing.
bushinserted rings at the top of the drones – a decorative element that closes the drone hole. The diameter of the bushes is important for the response of the drones.
canePipe, reed. A short name for reeds or reed parts made from arondo donax.
chanter Shawm, treble, melody pipe, in the GHB conically bored with 8 finger holes and 2 tuning holes. The most important part on the bagpipe.
chanter reedDouble reed made of Arondo Donax in chanter. Also used in Practice Chanter in a similar form, but usually made of plastic.
combing turned flat rings on drones, stocks and blowpipe. Purely decorative and without any influence on the sound. Varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Plain combing: simple ornamentation; Full combing: deeper and denser combing
cord String with tassels that holds the drones in the correct position and catches any drone slides that fall out.
cover Overlay, often in tartan, over the air bag. The traditional colors are Black, Blue, Red and Green, depending on the origin of the Piper.
drone Brummer, “(organ) pedal”, drones. Whistle that plays a continuous tone, providing a rudimentary harmony. The smallest pitch fluctuations are extremely unpleasant, which is why attention should be paid to good drones and flawless tuning. Scottish pipes use 2 tenordrones (one octave lower than the fundamental of the chanter) and 1 bass drone (two octaves lower).
drone reedReed in the drones. A distinction is made between tenor drone reeds and the somewhat larger bass drone reeds. Drone reeds are relevant reeds that are traditionally cut from the full reed. Today, there are numerous all-plastic drone reeds available.
drone slidemovable part of a drone, movable for tuning.
Sleeves above the tuning pin are also called drone slides
ferrule Ferrule, reinforcing ring of metal, plastic or ivory, at the end of an open pipe or stick section.
full mountedExpression for the craftsmanship of a pipe, means that rings,
Ferrules and Projecting Mounts are made of one and the same material, e.g. “Full Mounted Real Ivory” means that all hardware parts are made of real ivory.
Great Highland Bagpipe(GHB) literally: great highland bagpipe or generally the Scottish bagpipe. There are still the small Scottish Small Pipe, the Scottish Lowland Pipe and some less known pipe variants in Scotland.
goose also called practice goose: is nothing else than a practice chanter equipped with a windsock and a blowpipe.
half mountedmeans that the Ferrules are made of one material and the Projecting Mounts and Rings are made of another. Example: “Half Mounted Silver/Real Ivory”.
hemp Hemp, also Yellow Hemp. A special thread with which the windings are made. Necessary purchase, they need Yellow Hemp almost every day.
ivory real ivory from elephant tusks, but also from hippopotamus or walrus tusks.
matched chanterChanter made specifically for use in pipe bands and trimmed for the closest possible match in tone.
mouthpiece Mouthpiece. The upper end of the blowpipe or practice chanter. It should be made of nylon or para rubber to protect the teeth.
pitch Pitch, fine tuning. Note: the current common pitch for the Chanter – A is 472 to 476 oscillations per second (Hz), instead of the usual Concert – A at 440 Hz.
practice chanter(PC) mouth-blown practice pipe for learning to play the bagpipes in general, but also for practicing and learning new tunes. Consists of three parts: Wind capsule, reed (plastic!) and whistle.
projecting mountsprotruding reinforcement rings on the drones and blowpipe. Are made of wood, plastic, metal or ivory. Their function, in addition to strengthening the wooden part, is mainly decorative. No influence on the sound.
reeds Reed, pitch pipe. Made of Arondo Donax (s.d.) or plastic. see also: Chanter Reed, Drone Reed.
ribbons colored ribbons tied to the drones in addition to the cord. Purely decorative.
seasoning liquid sealant that makes the pores of the leather windsock airtight, but allows moisture from breathing to escape.
small pipesbesides the GHB, there are several other types of pipes in Scotland: the Scottish Small Pipes have a thin, straight bore and play very quietly and beautifully.
sole lower end plate of the chanter or practice chanter made of plastic.
stock Socket, hollow drilled wooden part that is bound in the leather bag and is used to hold the pipes.
tartan Tartan, woolen fabric for making kilts and the cover.
tuning pinPeg of the lower drone part on which the drone upper part can be moved for tuning.
tutor Teacher or textbook
Pipe instructors in Scottish schools are called piping instructors.
tying-in-cordSpecially prepared waxed strong cord to tie the sticks in the bag. Sold measured for one time binding.
valve Valve in the blowpipe. Prevents the air from flowing back.
velvet Velvet, for cover. Traditional colors are black, blue, red, green.
wax Wax for rubbing the Hemp.

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