This Week’s Topic…

Best viewed in
Internet Explorer


Back to

Updated 06/27/2013


Bagpipes of the World

Great Britain

  • Great Highland Bagpipe:

  • Northumbrian smallpipes: a smallpipe with a closed end chanter played in staccatto.

  • Border pipe: also called the "Lowland Bagpipe", commonly confused with smallpipes, but much louder. Played in the Lowlands of Scotland. Conically bored, sounding similar in timbre to the Highland pipes, but partially or fully chromatic.

  • Scottish smallpipes: a modern re-interpretation of an extinct instrument. Possibly a descendant of the Northumbrian pipes, but without the stopped end (no staccatto).

  • Cornish bagpipes: an extinct type of double chanter bagpipe from Cornwall (southwest England); there are currently attempts being made to revive it on the basis of literary descriptions and iconographic representations.

  • Welsh pipes (pibe cyrn, pibgod): Of two types, one a descendant of the pibgorn, the other loosely based on the Breton Veuze. Both mouthblown with one bass drone.

  • Lancashire Great-pipe: another extinct type of English bagpipe that enthusiasts are attempting to "reconstruct" based on descriptions and representations but no actual physical evidence.

  • Pastoral Pipes: Although the exact origin of this keyed, or un-keyed chanter and keyed drones (regulators), pipe is uncertain, it was developed into the modern Uilleann bagpipe.


  • Uilleann pipes : Bellows-blown bagpipe with keyed, or un-keyed chanter and keyed drones (regulators), from Ireland. The most common type of bagpipes in Irish traditional music.

  • Great Irish Warpipes: Carried by most Irish regiments of the British Army (except the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) until the late 1960s, when the Great Highland Bagpipe became standard. The Warpipe differed from the latter only in having a single tenor drone.

  • Brian Boru bagpipes: Carried by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and had three drones, one of which was a baritone, pitched between bass and tenor. Unlike the chanter of the Great Highland Bagpipe, its chanter is keyed, allowing for a greater tonal range.

  • Pastoral pipes: Although the exact origin of this keyed, or un-keyed chanter and keyed drones (regulators), pipe is uncertain, it was developed into the modern Uilleann bagpipe.

Eastern Europe

  • Volinka (волынка, also spelled volynka), of Russia

  • Gaida (also the large kaba gaida from the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria): Southern Balkan (i.e. Bulgarian and Macedonian) and Greek and Albanian bagpipe with one drone and one chanter

  • Gajdy or gajde: the name for various bagpipes of Eastern Europe, found in Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Croatia.

  • Dudy (also known by the German name Bock) : Czech bellows-blown bagpipe with a long, crooked drone and chanter that curves up at the end.

  • Magyar Duda or Hungarian duda (also known as tömlösíp, börduda and Croatian duda) has a double chanter (two parallel bores in a single stick of wood, Croatian versions have three or four) with single reeds and a bass drone. It is typical of a large group of pipes played in the Carpathian Basin.

  • Istarski mih (Piva d'Istria), a double chantered, droneless bagpipe whose side by side chanters are cut from a single rectangular piece of wood. They are typically single reed instruments, using the Istrian scale.

  • Cimpoi, the Romanian bagpipe, has a single drone and straight bore chanter and is less stringent than its Balkan relatives. The number of finger holes varies from five to eight and there are two types of cimpoi with a double chanter. The bag is often covered with embroidered cloth. The bagpipe can be found in most of Romania apart from the central, northern and eastern parts of Transylvania, but nowadays it is only played by a few elderly people.

  • Torupill, of Estonia.


  • Musette de cour : French ancestor of the Northumbrian pipes, used in folk music as well as classical compositions in the 18th century French court. The shuttle design for the drones was recently revived and added to a mouth blown Scottish smallpipe.

  • Biniou or biniou koz (old style bagpipe): a mouth blown bagpipe from Brittany, a Celtic region of northwestern France. It is the most famous bagpipe of France. The great Highland bagpipe is also used in marching bands called bagadoù and known as biniou braz (great bagpipe).

  • Veuze, found in Vendée, similar to Galician gaitas.

  • Cabrette, played in Auvergne.

  • Chabrette or chabretta, found in Limousin.

  • Bodega, found in Languedoc, made of an entire goat skin.

  • Boha, found in Gascogne.

  • Musette bressane, found in Bresse.

  • Bagpipes of central France: (French cornemuse du centre or musette du centre) are of many different types, some mouth blown. It can be found in the Bourbonnais, Berry, Nivernais, and Morvan regions of France and in different tonalities.

  • "Chabrette poitevine," found in Poitou but now extremely rare.

Flanders and the Netherlands

  • Doedelzak: the type of bagpipe made famous in the paintings of Pieter Brueghel the Elder


  • Muchosa or muchosac, found in Hainaut


  • Dudelsack: German bagpipe with two drones and one chanter. Also called Schäferpfeife (shepherd pipe) or Sackpfeife. The drones are sometimes fit into one stock and do not lie on the player's shoulder but are tied to the front of the bag.

  • Mittelaltersackpfeife: Reconstruction of medieval bagpipes after descriptions by Michael Praetorius and depictions by Albrecht Durer, among others. While the exterior is reconstructed from these sources, the interior and sound are often similar to the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe. Commonly tuned in A minor and used by musical groups specialising in medieval tunes. Often to be seen at medieval festivals and markets.

  • Huemmelchen: small bagpipe with the look of a small medieval pipe or a Dudelsack. The sound is similar to that of the Uilleann pipes, or sometimes the smallpipes. Seldom louder than 60 or 70 dB


  • Tsampouna (also tsambouna, tsabouna, etc.) [Greek: τσαμπούνα]: Greek island bagpipe with a double chanter, no drone and a bag made from an entire goatskin. Pronounced "saw-bow-nah".

Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain)

  • Portuguese and Spanish gaitas: Gaita, gaita-de-fole, gaita de boto, sac de gemecs, gaita de fol and gaita de fuelle is a generic term for "bagpipe" in Spanish, Portuguese, Galego, Asturian, Catalan and Aragonese, for distinct bagpipes used in Galicia (Spain), Asturias (Spain), Cantabria (Spain), Catalonia (Spain), Aragon (Spain) and also Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal) Estremadura (Portugal), Minho (Portugal) and Beira Litoral (Portugal). Just like "Northumbrian smallpipes" or "Great Highland bagpipes," each country and region attributes its toponym to the respective gaita name: gaita galega (Galicia, Spain), gaita transmontana (Trás-os-Montes, Portugal), gaita asturiana (Asturias, Spain), gaita sanabresa (Sanabria, Spain), sac de gemecs (Catalunya, Spain) gaita de boto (Aragon, Spain) etc. Most of them have a conical chanter with a partial second octave, obtained by overblowing. Folk groups playing these instruments have become popular in recent years, and pipe bands for some models.

  • Sac de gemecs : used in Catalonia (Spain). In Mallorca Island, this same bagpipe is called a "Xeremia" and is played in a duet with a Flabiol (one handed whistle) and drum.

  • Galician gaita is a traditional bagpipe used in Galicia and Northern and Central Portugal.


  • Zampogna : A generic name for an Italian bagpipe, with different scale arrangements for two chanters (for different regions of Italy), and from one to three drones (single drone versions can sound a fifth, in relation to the chanter keynote).Other drones are tuned higher or lower than the chanters, and the drones, like the chanters, can be single or double reeded. The double reeded version of the Zampogna is generally played with the piffero (called biffera in the Ciociaria]; a shawm, or folk oboe), which plays the melody and the zampogna provides chord changes, "vamping" or rhythmic harmony figures or a bass line and a soprano harmony as accompaniment. This double reed tradition would include the Ciociaria (Latium, southern Abruzzo and Molise), that of southern Basilicata (Pollino) and nearby areas of Calabria, and some areas of Sicily (Siracusa, Palermo). Single reed versions are played solo in the Calabrian tradition of the surdullina (Cosenza), and a version with a plugged chanter called the "surdullina Albanese," and the Sicilian ciaramedda or ciaramèddha (Messina and Reggio Calabria). The chanters and drones vary, according to the tradition, from a few inches long (surdullina) to two meters in length, such as used in the cathedral of Monreale (Palermo) and nearly every size in between. The word tzimpounas/tsimponas still used for bagpipe in Pontic Greek and Turkish (Trebizond region of northeast Anatolia; its Romanian counterpart is cimpoi, which also means "symphony" or "many sounds played together."

  • Piva, used in northern Italy (Bergamo, Emilia). A single chantered, single drone instrument, with double reeds, often played in accompaniment to a shawm, or piffero. The old Bergamo type is called Baghèt.

  • Launeddas of Sardinia. While not strictly a bagpipe in that it is played in the mouth by circular breathing, it is nonetheless a cousin and likely ancestor of the Italian zampogna, in that it has two chanters and a drone, all single reed. They vary, according to the tradition, from about a foot long to almost a meter in length.


  • Żaqq (with definite article: iż-żaqq): The most common form of Maltese bagipes, sometimes erroneously referred to as the zapp due to a spelling error in a 1939 English-language publication. There was also a smaller type of bagpipe known as the qrajna (a diminutive of qarn ["horn"]). The Maltese word żaqq literally means "sack" or "belly" and derives from Arabic ziqq ( زِقّ "skin" [as a receptacle]). It is sometimes stated that żaqq derives from Italian zampogna but this is not the case. Very similar to the bagpipes of North Africa, the Maltese żaqq consists of a chanter (saqqafa) with two side-by-side pipes (qwiemi) made of cane and set into a wooden yoke, using two single-reeds (bedbut). A single bull's horn bell (qarn) is typically attached to the end of the chanter. There are no drones. The bag was traditionally made of (preferably) dogskin, but goat- and calfskin were also used; there are ethnographic reports that skins of large tomcats also served. The use of the żaqq in daily life came to an end in the 1970s, but there are ongoing attempts to revive it by various folk music ensembles such as Etnika.


General name of bagpipes in Polish are kozioł (buck), gajdy or koza (goat), sometimes are also wrongly named kobza. They are used in folk music of Podhale, Żywiec Beskids, Cieszyn Silesia and mostly in Greater Poland, were are known four basic variants of bagpipes:

  • dudy wielkopolskie (Greater Polands bagpipes) with two subtypes: Rawicz-Gostyń nd Kościan-Buk

  • kozioł biały weselny or shortly kozioł biały (white wedding-party buck or simply white buck)

  • kozioł czarny ślubny or shortly kozioł czarny (black wedding buck or simply black buck)

  • sierszeńki

  • In Podhale there is one type of dudy called koza or gajdzica.


  • Säckpipa: Also the Swedish word for "bagpipe" in general, this instrument was on the brink of extinction in the first half of the 20th century. It has a cylindrical bore and a single reed, as well as a single drone at the same pitch as the bottom note of the chanter.


  • Pontic bagpipe/dankiyo/tulum consist of :1 . Post - Skin (bag) : Animal Skin, 2 . Fisaktir - blowpipe : Wood or Bone, 3 . Avlos - flute : Wood & Reeds, 4 . Kalame - Reeds: Reeds

  • Dankiyo: A word of Greek origin for "bagpipe" used in the Trabzon Province of Turkey mentioned in the text of Evliya Çelebi (17. century, Ottoman Era): "The Laz's of Trebizond invented a bagpipe called the dankiyo...." Etymology: Ancient Greek το άγγείον to angeíon "skin, bagpipe."

  • Tulum: skin bag; Turkish bagpipe featuring two parallel chanters, (and no drone) usually played by the Laz and Hamsheni people.

  • Gaida: Usually played by Thracians Turks and Pomaks in Turkey.


  • Ney anban: Persian bagpipe from the south of Iran; bag made from animal skin

North Africa

  • Mizwad (Arabic مِزْود ; plural مَزاود mazāwid): Tunisian bagpipes; often referred to as mezoued, a French form of the Arabic word. Mizwad literally means "sack". The mizwad is also known as the zukrah ( زُكْرة ; pl. زُكر zukar), a word literally meaning "(wine)skin".