Bagpipe History & Competition
Calling all Bagpipers!
Here’s your invitation to compete in the Sherwood Open Bagpipe Competition this September 22nd and 23rd at the Sherwood Celtic Music Festival. The competition will be for soloists only. However, if you wish, you may have one drummer to accompany you. This competition will not be divided into classes, and will not be judged on technical criteria. The top prize will go to the most entertaining piper. Your judges will be the audience, whose reaction will be rated between 0 and 10 by a small panel of judges. These judges will be rating the audience’s cheers for your performance, not your performance itself. You may do anything within decency to garner the crowd’s reaction, but you must not play any other instruments besides having the option of a single drummer. There will be a competition each day, starting at 4:00 pm. The best pipers will then compete for 3rd, 2nd, and 1st places in the elimination round at 6:00 pm. Pipers may enter both days of the competition, which will work the same way, but will be separate events. Drummers may play with multiple Pipers in a single day, but Pipers may enter only once per day. Each day Awards will be given: 1st place will take home $100, 2nd place $75, and 3rd place $50. Runners up will receive prizes too, like CDs, gift certificates and more.
Contact director of entertainment, Zane Baker at 512-731-2316 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Bagpipe History 101
In the early part of the second millennium, bagpipes began to appear with frequency in European art and iconography. The Cantigas de Santa Maria, compiled in Castile in the mid-13th century, depict several types of bagpipes. Though evidence of bagpipes in the British Isles prior to the 14th century is contested, bagpipes are explicitly mentioned in The Canterbury Tales (written around 1380): A baggepype wel coude he blowe and sowne, | And ther-with-al he broghte us out of towne.
Actual examples of bagpipes from before the 18th century are extremely rare; however, a substantial number of paintings, carvings, engravings, manuscript illuminations, and so on survive. They make it clear that bagpipes varied hugely throughout Europe, and even within individual regions. Many examples of early folk bagpipes in Continental Europe can be found in the paintings of Brueghel, Teniers, Jordaens and Durer.
Evidence of the bagpipe in Ireland occurs in 1581, when John Derrick’s “The Image of Irelande” clearly depicts a bagpiper. Derrick’s illustrations are considered to be reasonably faithful depictions of the attire and equipment of the English and Irish population of the 16th century. The Battle sequence from My Ladye Nevells Booke (1591) by William Byrd, which probably alludes to the Irish wars of 1578, contains a piece entitled The bagpipe: & the drone. In 1760, the first serious study of the Scottish Highland bagpipe and its music was attempted, in Joseph MacDonald’s ‘Compleat Theory’. Further south, a manuscript from the 1730s by a William Dixon from Northumberland contains music that fits the Border pipes, a nine-note bellows-blown bagpipe whose chanter is similar to that of the modern Great Highland Bagpipe. However the music in Dixon’s manuscript varied greatly from modern Highland bagpipe tunes, consisting mostly of extended variation sets of common dance tunes. Some of the tunes in the Dixon manuscript correspond to tunes found in early 19th century published and manuscript sources of Northumbrian smallpipe tunes, notably the rare book of 50 tunes, many with variations, by John Peacock.
During the expansion of the British Empire, spearheaded by British military forces that included Highland regiments, the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe became well-known worldwide. This surge in popularity was boosted by large numbers of pipers trained for military service in the two World Wars. The surge coincided with a decline in the popularity of many traditional forms of bagpipe throughout Europe, which began to be displaced by instruments from the classical tradition and later by gramophone and radio.
In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations such as Canada and New Zealand, the bagpipe is commonly used in the military and is often played in formal ceremonies. Foreign militaries patterned after the British Army have also taken the Highland bagpipe into use, including Uganda, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Oman. Many police and fire forces in Scotland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United States have also adopted the tradition of pipe bands.
In recent years, often driven by revivals of native folk music and dance, many types of bagpipes have resurged in popularity, and in many cases instruments that were on the brink of extinction have become extremely popular. In Brittany, the Great Highland Bagpipe and concept of the pipe band were appropriated to create a Breton interpretation, the bagad. The pipe band idiom has also been adopted and applied to the Spanish gaita as well. Additionally, bagpipes have often been used in various films depicting moments from Scottish and Irish history; the film Braveheart and the theatrical show Riverdance have served to make the uilleann pipes more commonly known.
Historical information courtesy of Wikipedia