Mention bagpipe bands to anyone and the first thing that would probably come to their minds are Scotland and the Scottish men in kilts who usually make up such bands. You are probably also already aware that a pipe band not only consists of bagpipes but have accompanying drums too. This is because most bagpipe bands are military-oriented.
An Overview of the History of Bagpipe Bands
Despite obscure historical accounts about bagpipe bands, many historians agree that bagpipes did not originate in Scotland. Even so, it was the Scots who were actually able to hone and develop bagpipe music. They introduced their own unique touches to the said genre, to the point that a lot of people only associate them with it ever since.
Unsurprisingly, bagpipe bands trace their roots to pipe bands that the army used during the Victorian era. They were commissioned by Queen Victoria during the first half of the 19th century as a way to boost the morale of the soldiers, especially when they have to march long distances. Back then, they haven’t composed of the more numerous bands that most of us are familiar with, though, because regiments (particularly Highland Regiments) are often assigned only up to five pipers with a head piper called the Pipe Major. It did not take long for pipe bands to incorporate drummers, though, and develop into the bands that we know today.
As for the instruments that bagpipe bands use, the people who play them are often divided into sections of pipers, side drummers, bass drummers, and tenor drummers. The bass and tenor drummers are separated from the central drum corps. The Pipe Major is the one responsible for directing the music-playing of the bagpipe band. And of course, the central instrument of a bagpipe band is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a double reed woodwind, which was developed primarily in Scotland. However, it traces its influences as far back as the 13th century, in mainland Europe. Its Irish counterpart is called the Great Irish Warpipes.
Noteworthy Trivia Regarding Bagpipe Bands
Did you know that although bagpipe music is often played more commonly nowadays by pipe bands, it was actually designed intended to be played by only a single person? In fact, it is how traditional pipe music is normally played. Even if some would argue that these are two different things, the connections between the two are actually strong, as the former greatly influenced the latter.
Such was the defining and terrifying quality of army bagpipe music that during the time when Scottish bagpipe bands were actively serving army regiments at war, certain historical accounts have recorded that enemies actually fled the battlefield once they heard its intimidating tones and drones. Throughout the many wars that the Highland Regiments fought, they were often accompanied by fearless pipers who sacrificed their lives to support their fellow soldiers.
Lastly, most Western countries nowadays actually have their own pipe bands, with Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Australia having the most number of bagpipe bands and associations. Bands all over the world usually play for various reasons, but they often play when conducting ceremonies and participating in competitions. With its rich history, it’s no wonder that many people are becoming fascinated with facts about bagpipe bands.