Contrary to popular belief, the bagpipes are not of Scottish or Irish origin. It is believed that the first version of this instrument can be traced back to the Middle East several thousand years ago.
However, it was most likely a rather crude instrument consisting of a goatskin bag with reeds stuck into it. As civilisation spread throughout the Middle East and into the Mediterranean lands, these people brought along their music. Instrument sophistication grew with time, reeds were replaced with the hollowed leg bones of small grazing animals and had holes drilled into the bones allowing the musicians to vary tones and pitch. As the Romans moved throughout Europe, they carried their version of the pipes with them, spreading popularity of the instrument throughout Europe, eventually ending up in the British Isles.
During the 14th century the bagpipes could be found in nearly every village throughout Scotland and Ireland. They were not only a source of music for enjoyment but were also used to rally the clans to battle, usually against the English, who found the pipes so disturbing that they banned the Scots and Irish from playing them.
Over time bagpipes grew in sophistication, more pipes were added enabling the musician to reach a wider range of notes.
In more recent times British soldiers were led into battle by pipers and drummers.
Today bagpipes are an instrument that is loved by many and are played all around the world, by many nationalities, whether it be in street parades, tattoos, concerts, festivals, weddings, funerals, the list goes on.
This is the instrument that is played in our pipe band as it is in Scottish pipe bands.