"Think of Scotland and you think of Scottish bagpipes"



Scottish bagpipes - they can be heard the world over, from New Zealand and Australia to India, to New York on Tartan Day, April 6th.

While it is known that bagpipes as such do not actually originate from Scotland, they have become synonymous with the country and all that is Scottish. There are even bagpipe jokes!

So when most people think of bagpipes, they think of Scottish bagpipes. Indeed, all of the well known bagpipe tunes come from the land of purple heather.

If you really enjoy this blood-stirring music that makes your spine tingle and your heart sing, you don't have to wait till you come to Scotland to listen to it. There are many recordings of bagpipe music available on tape and CD.

And of course, once you are in Scotland, you will find them in every souvenir shop, tourist attraction and visitor information centre as well as in department stores and places like Woolworths.

If you want to hear Scottish bagpipe music live, there is no better occasion than the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo held every year at Edinburgh Castle.

You're also likely to hear the pipes at local festivities all around the country.

If you fancy the idea of buying your own set of bagpipes and learning to play them, be prepared for a hefty bill – they're not cheap! They are also quite tricky to learn, as Scottish bagpipe music is played in a slightly unusual time.

Actually, you won't need to invest in a full set of pipes right from the start. To learn the pipes you initially just need the chanter, the part similar to a recorder, with a plastic reed. Once you have mastered that you can move on to playing the full bagpipes.

Funnily, in the area of Scotland I live in, down in the south-west in the former Lordship of Galloway, you don't actually hear the pipes that often. But when I was growing up in New Zealand I learnt highland dancing and was friends with an expert piper who was 40-50 years my senior, and at the age of eight I had a go at learning to play the bagpipes.

At the time the holes in the chanter were just a wee bit too far apart for my little fingers, so I didn't pursue it.

My association with bagpipes didn't end there, though. My parents sent me to a school with its own pipe band, and once a week the whole school marched to the strains of Scottish bagpipes!

And finally, on a humorous note, take a look and a listen at the really amazing things this man - "Johnny Bagpipes" does with Scottish bagpipes...

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