“A baggepype wel coude he blowe and sowne,
And ther-with-al he broghte us out of towne.”
Canterbury Tales, General Prologue
According to Suetonius, a Roman historian during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire, Nero played a type of pipe known as the Roman reedpipes, “with his mouth as well as his armpit.” In fact, some suggest that he played the pipes, rather than the fiddle, as Rome burned. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales makes specific reference to the Miller being able to play the bagpipes. Early folk bagpipes found their way into paintings by Brueghel, Teniers, Jordaens and Durer. The Irish had píob mhór, which means, in Gaelic, Great Irish War pipes. Vincenzo Galilei, the father of Galileo, wrote that the bagpipe “is much used by the Irish: to its sound this unconquered fierce and warlike people march their armies and encourage each other to deeds of valour.”
Bagpipes tell the story of the world. Bulgaria has the kaba gaida, Southern Italy, the zampogna, Turkey, the tulum, Galicia the giata, Southern India, the sruti upanga, Sweden, the säckpipa; all of which bears witness that bagpipes have roots in many traditions. It is a global instrument that continues to gain entrance into modern music. There is a greater narrative that continues to unfold.
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.
My Heart’s in the Highlands