Musette de cour

Contributed by The Bagpipe Museum

This musical instrument is a very early, rare example of a musette de cour, a bagpipe played at the French court.

Air reached the bag via bellows - it would not be seemly for an aristocrat to be seen playing with puffed out cheeks!A rare example of a musette de cour or bagpipe played at the French court, which some believe to be the forerunner of the Northumbrian pipes. This musette is thought to have been made for King Louis XIV whose portrait with a very similar instrument hangs at the Palace of Versailles. The fashion at the French court was for the pastoral; as Marie Antoinette and her courtiers acted the part of shepherds and shepherdesses, they played peasant instruments such as the bagpipe. But instead of native wood and sheepskin, their instruments were constructed of the finest materials from around the world - African ebony, Indian ivory and silver from America, all covered with the finest silk brocade. Air was pumped into the bag by means of bellows since it would not be seemly to be seen with puffed out cheeks while playing!

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