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The Northumbrian Smallpipes are a melodious, bellows blown bagpipe. They are rather quiet by comparison with other bagpipes and are normally played indoors. The chanter has a closed end and is played with closed fingering, giving a unique staccato character. Three drones are normally used as accompaniment – a bass and tenor tuned an octave apart, and a baritone tuned a fifth above the bass. The sound of the chanter has been likened to the singing of a lark over the drones sounding like the buzzing of bees.
The current form of the pipes was developed by makers in Newcastle-on-Tyne and North Shields towards the end of the 18th century, when the addition of chanter keys extended the melodic range of the chanter beyond an octave. This allowed pipers to explore the fiddle repertoire as well as the older pipe tunes of the region. Playing tunes with different key signatures required a variety of drone tunings which led to: the addition of more drones; stoppers to turn off those which conflicted with the melody; and tuning beads to widen the selection of pitches.
The Society also supports the Border or Half-long pipes (also known in Scotland as the Lowland pipes or - rather unfavourably - the Cauld wind pipes). These are also bellows-blown but have an open-ended, conical-bored chanter and are somewhat louder than the Smallpipes.
To be added...
What they sound like , (sound clips of each to be added.)
What they look like.( Pictures to be added)
Brief description of the differences.
Information on buying pipes, what to look for etc. Where to find groups of pipers you can talk to.
A list of Pipemakers