Thank you for visiting the instrument page. I am often asked about the crazy bagpipes that I pull out of my box so I felt I could best address each request by compiling information on each pipe and presenting it here. Where possible I will include pictures, music, diagrams and anything else I can think of that may be of interest to someone. If you would like specific information not supplied here please ask and I will see what I can do.
Scottish Border or ‘Lowland’ Pipes
Biniou Kozh & Bombard
The Biniou Kozh is the traditional bagpipe of Brittany, ‘Biniou’ meaning bagpipe and ‘Kozh’ meaning old. The Biniou developed as an octave bagpipe intended to be played exclusively with the Bombard, a modern descendant of the medieval and renaissance shawms. As a general rule, the biniou will follow the bombards lead and perform the same melody in unison although an octave above. As the melody progresses the bombard player, out of necessity, will rest on the repeats while the biniou player maintains the melody. Although the biniou is used primarily as a supporting instrument it is during these solo moments when the biniou player may improvise on the theme of the music. Together the two instruments produce a very powerful sound intended to be heard clearly above the large groups of dancers common in Breton festivals.
In Bulgaria there are two common bagpipes; the Djura gaida, or high bagpipe, known for its piercing and somewhat punchy voice and the Kaba gaida, or low bagpipe, known for its deeper resonant vocal tone. The instrument I play is the djura gaida which consists of a short conical chanter, drone pitched to the middle note of the chanter, blow pipe, and bag made from a whole kid skin.
The Mezoued is a bagpipe unique to northern Africa and is found in the country of Tunisia. Having no drones, a double chanter with large protruding bell-horns, and a skin made from a whole pig, the instrument looks not unlike a skinned Muppet character. Its unique sound comes from its double chanters playing in unison, broken by moments of expanded musicality when one chanter is played and the other is left to drone.
As a word of caution, I would like to note that the information I give here is based upon my experience and a limited amount of research. Additionally, there is a finite amount of space here so it would be impractical to give the whole story on each instrument; Refer to the links on my Lessons page to get a small idea of the scope of the highland bagpipe. Disclaimer aside, please check back soon as there will be more to follow.