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Bagpip-Dsguis-art - 11/30/06


“Disguising Modern Bagpipes” by Karl Krampf.


NOTE: See also the files: bagpipes-msg, blast-horns-art, instruments-msg, SI-songbook1-art, drums-msg, lea-bladders-msg, Bagpipe-Tips-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Disguising Modern Bagpipes

by Karl Krampf


In order to get the correct medieval look for your medieval pipes, first figure out what kind of medieval piper you are. Are you a noble or wealthy piper, or are you a peasant? Are you 15th century, or earlier? What region do you come from? Many of these questions will help you develop your persona, and dress your pipes.


One thing to remember is that bag covers for bagpipes vary from culture to culture. Most peasants would not have a bag cover - they would just let everyone see the leather bag and twine that held it together, because bag covers are an accessory whose only purpose is in covering up the dull, mundane, rustic nature of the pipes. Peasants probably couldn't care less if people saw the bag in all of it's cowhide glory.


The velvet bag covers that come with most bagpipes today would have been expensive in medieval times. Only nobles should use the velvet. If your bag-cover is a tartan, you may want to get rid of it, and either get the tartan of the clan that your persona is from, or discard it altogether if your  persona is not Scotch at all. You would not see a 14th century German or a 12th century Spaniard playing bagpipes that had a Royal Stewart Tartan bag cover. In fact, most of the bagpipe illustrations from the Cantigas and other medieval sources do not show bag covers at all. I think there is a good reason for it, and that is that bag covers simply didn't come into vogue until much later. Animal skins with the fur on them would be a great way to dress up your bag, if you must have a cover. This makes the bag look even more rustic and old-timey, but this is entirely up to the player. A simple woolen bag-cover, with a coat of arms sewn into it, would not only look appropriate, but allow the player to be either a peasant or noble.


If you have large pipes with more than one drone, you should avoid using the tasseled cords that come with the average set of pipes. Do yourself a big favor and use some leather cords or straps. Just as with the bag covers, these types of silk or satin cords with tassels did not originate until much later, and we do not see them in medieval illustrations. In most cases, a leather belt or even rope was used, if anything. Many medieval pipers attached the drones in such a way that they rested across the fore-arm or elbows. In many other illustrations, the drones stuck straight up, and there isn't anything connecting them at all. However, there are enough illustrations that show cords tying the drones, and in most of them, the cords are simply leather or twine.


I use leather straps on my drones, onto which I've placed buttons, so that I can unbutton the straps for performing maintenance.


You may want to decorate your drones with little flags that have your band logo on them, or maybe a coat of arms if you are a noble. If you're a peasant, you can hang animal skins from them. My drones are decorated with ermine pelts, because my character is a part-time rat-catcher, and the ermine pelts resemble white rats. A few medieval sketches and paintings depict bagpipers as rat-catchers, so I wanted to pay homage to it.


If you are a modernist, and your pipes have a modern, synthetic bag, or even a moisture control system, don't fret -- fake it. Make yourself a leather hide bag-cover, to hide the Gore-Tex bag. This is fairly easy to do, and just requires two pieces of leather to be sewn, with a few holes for the drones and blowstick. You can even close the end of the bag with Velcro, as this will not really show if you've cut the length of the bag correctly. This is one way you can get the correct look with an upgraded modern instrument.



Copyright 2006 by David W. Irish, <priscus.forem at gmail,com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org