bagatelle is entirely at the discretion of the composer, the only restriction being that it must be abort and not too serious in its character.
[ E. P. ]
[ G. ]
[ J. M. ]
BAGPIPE (Fr. Cornemuse; Ital. Cornamusa; Germ. Sackpfeife). An instrument, in one or other of its forms, of very great antiquity. By the Greeks it was named άσκανλοs or σνμφώνεια; by the Romans Tibia utricularis. Mersennus calls it Surdeline, and Bonani Piva or Ciaramella. In Lower Brittany it is termed Bignou, from a Breton word bigno—'se renfler beaucoup.' It has been named Musette (possibly after Colin Muset, an officer of Thibaut do Champagne, king of Navarre). Corruptions of these names, such as Samponia or Samphoneja, and Zampugna, are also common.
It appears on a coin of Nero, who, according to Suetonius, was himself a performer upon it. It is mentioned by Procopius as the instrument of war of the Roman infantry. In the crozier given by William of Wykeham to New College, Oxford, in 1403, there is the figure of an angel playing it. Chaucer's miller performed on it—
'A bagpipe well couth he blowe and sowne.'
Shakespeare often alludes to it. He speaks of 'the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe,' of the antipathy some people have to its sound, and of some who laugh like parrots at a bagpiper. At the close of the 15th century the bagpipe seems to have come into general favour in Scotland.
Until recently music for the bagpipe was not written according to the usual system of notation, but was taught by a language of its own, the notes having each names, such as hodroho, hananin, hiechin, hachin, etc. A collection of piobaireachd (pibrochs) in this form was published by Capt. Niel Macleod at Edinburgh in 1828.
In Louis XIV's time the bagpipe formed one of the instruments included in the band of the 'Grande Ecurie,' and was played at court concerts.
Its essential characteristics have always been, first, a combination of fixed notes or 'drones,' with a melody or 'chaunter'; secondly, the presence of a wind-chest or bag. From these peculiarities, the Greek, and from the second of them the Latin names clearly come. Although it has no doubt been reinvented in various times and places, it seems to be connected with the Keltic race, whether in Ireland, Scotland, or Brittany.
The wind has been variously supplied, either from the breath of the player, or from a small pair of bellows placed under one arm, the sac or bag being under the other. In the latter form it contains all the essentials of the organ. It is somewhat remarkable that the use of the lungs themselves as the wind-chest to reed instruments should have been adopted later and less universally.
At the present time there are four principal forms of the instrument used in this country—two Scotch (Highland and Lowland), the Irish, and the Northumbrian. The Scotch Highland pipe is blown from the chest, the others from bellows. The Irish bagpipe is perhaps the most powerful and elaborate instrument, keys producing the third and fifth to the note of the chaunter having been added to the drones. The Northumbrian is small and sweeter in tone; but the Scotch pipe is probably the oldest and certainly the most characteristic form: it will therefore be considered first, and at the greatest length.
In this instrument a valved tube leads from the mouth to a leather air-tight bag, which has four other orifices; three large enough to contain the base of three fixed long tubes termed drones, and another smaller, to which is fitted the chaunter. The former are thrown on the shoulder; the latter is held in the hands. All four pipes are fitted with reeds, but of different kinds. The drone reeds are made by splitting a round length of 'cane' or reed backwards towards a joint or knot from a cross cut near the open end; they thus somewhat resemble the reed in organ pipes, the loose flap of cane replacing the tongue, the uncut part the tube or reed proper. These are then set downwards in a chamber at the base of the drone, so that the current of air issuing from the bag tends to close the fissure in the cane caused by the springing outwards of the cut flap, thus setting it in vibration. The drone reeds are only intended to produce a single note, which can be tuned by a slider on the pipe itself, varying the length of the consonating air-column.
The chaunter reed is different in form, being made of two approximated edges of cane tied together, and is thus essentially a double reed,