The melodious sounds of bagpipes are often associated with a rustic lifestyle of the highlands. There are two popular types of bagpipes in the realm of music; Irish and Scottish. The two instruments are difficult to distinguish between but consist of numerous minor distinctions that make them different from one another.
Irish Uilleann Pipes are known as the most elaborate bagpipes in the world. Bellows inflate the instrument instead of being blown by mouth and is capable of playing more than two entire chromatic octaves, while, most bagpipes can only play one. The Irish bagpipe is moderately quiet, equipped with the loudness of only two fiddles.
The Irish bagpipes are also composed of three drones. The most interesting structural trait of the instrument is it’s three or more oboes, shaped to form one octave, four to five note harmony pipes with keys that are played by the wrist, along with several chords. The Irish bagpipe is performed with one leg lowered.
According to history, Scottish bagpipes were made in the mountainous western islands and the highlands of Scotland around the 1500’s. The instrument is accompanied by a high-pitched chant that can play a low fixed scale of nine notes and three large drones, that are all attached to the bag located under the ram which contains the air that is blown through the blowpipe with the mouth.
The accompanying drones are tuned to B-flat and play a sole bass and treble tone. The scale of the Scottish bagpipe operates from A to A but consist of one note under the range, namely a G or a 7th. Scottish bagpipes were traditionally used to play long and slow musical pieces.
Main differences between Irish Bagpipes and Scottish Bagpipes
The Irish and Scottish bagpipes are similar in the utilization of taps and cuts to produce melody and rhythm.
Irish bagpipes can employ sophisticated techniques to alter the pitch, comprise vibrato, and shade the not to produce different tones. While Scottish pipers can render more intricate ornaments to combine various grace notes. To sum it up, Irish pipes carry the capability to play with vowels, while Scottish pipes are more compatible with consonant percussive sound.
Traditionally, musicians who play Scottish pipes are joined by other pipers. Each band member is required to perform in coordination with others. Thus, the ability to read and memorize music is incredibly important. Meanwhile, Irish pipers are often played solo, and the musicians are encouraged to add variations to their session and improvise. Irish pipers learn and play music by ear instead of through music sheets.
Moreover, Irish pipes are capable of playing more than one type of scale and two octaves. Scottish pipes can play one note and one octave while being limited to the A-Mixolydian scale and its likes.