Main content

The Great Highland Bagpipe

From shortbread tins to the Royal Mile, rugby games and highland weddings, the bagpipes have long symbolised Scottish identity. But where did they come from and what are they for?

From shortbread tins to the Royal Mile, rugby games and highland weddings, the bagpipes have long been a symbol of Scottish identity: but where did they come from, what are they for, and who writes their music? With pipers Simon McKerrell and Brighde Chaimbeul Tom Service explores their history against the backdrop of global piping traditions from Sweden to Macedonia, Spain and Hungary. What's the difference between the ceol mhor and the ceol beag? Are modern pipes more likely to be made from goat or gore-tex? And how did they make their way into everything from ACDC to Eminem, and Berlioz to Bach? Tom is on the case...

6 days left to listen

29 minutes

Music Played

  • Various Artists

    The Three Peaks of South Uist

    Performer: ScottishPower Pipe Band.
    • MONARCH.
    • CDMON 874.
  • The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Tank Regiment

    Scotland the Brave

    • DELTA MUSIC.
    • CD-6228.
  • Patrick Mor MacCrimmon

    Lament for the Children

    Performer: Pipe Major Angus MacDonald.
    • Lismor.
    • LCOM-5143.
  • AC/DC

    It's a Long Way to the Top

    • RUNE GRAMMAFON.
    • RCD-2057.
  • Tears for Fears

    Shout

    • EMI/Virgin/Universal.
    • 7243 5-20265 2 4.
  • Marshall Mathers

    Bagpipes from Baghdad

    Performer: Eminem.
    • Interscope.
    • B00192-M9FC.
  • Unnamed Composer

    Tornala Maika

    Performer: Brìghde Chaimbeul.
  • Dora Stratou

    Gaida

    • Seven Seas.
    • GT 5024.
  • Luigi Nigro

    Tarantella alla Ionnuvucchia

    Performer: Luigi Nigro.
    • Ethnica Records.
    • TA002.
  • Balint Sarosi

    Dudanóta II (Bagpipe Song II)

    • Hungaraton classics.
    • HCD 18260.
  • Träd

    Gaidarski Melodii

    Performer: Gaidarski Melodii.
    • Balkanton.
    • B.
  • Trad.

    Lament For Donald Doughal Mackay

    Performer: Roderick J. MacLeod.
    • LISMOR.
    • LCOM 5177.
  • Kate Bush

    The Sensual World

    Performer: Kate Bush.
    • Polygram Tv/Sony Tv.
    • 565441 2.
  • Depeche Mode

    Judas

    • Mute.
    • CD Stumm 106.
  • The White Stripes

    Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn

    • XL.
    • XLCD-271.
  • Wings

    Mull of Kintyre

    • Virgin.
    • VTDCD-137.
  • Jean‐Philippe Rameau

    La Danse

    Conductor: Teodor Currentzis. Performer: Musica Aeterna Orchestra.
    • Sony.
    • 88875014502.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah

    Conductor: Neville Marriner. Performer: Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
    • EMI CLASSICS.
    • 5689532.
  • Hector Berlioz

    L' Enfance du Christ Op.25

    Conductor: Colin Davis. Performer: London Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Tenebrae.
    • LSO Live LSO0606.
    • LSO0606.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony no. 104 in D major H.1.104 (London)

    Conductor: Sir Roger Norrington. Performer: Stuttgart R S O.
    • Hannsler Classic.
    • 98995.
  • Peter Maxwell Davies

    An Orkney wedding, with sunrise for orchestra and bagpipes

    Conductor: Ben Gernon. Performer: Robert Gordon. Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
    • Linn.
    • CKD534.
  • Ulrich Roever

    Highland Cathedral

    Composer: Michael Korb. Performer: Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
    • www.redhotchillipipers.co.uk.
    • rhcpcd-01.
  • Träd

    LAMENT FOR MARY MACLEOD

    Performer: Hugh A. MacCallum.
    • LISMOR DIGITAL.
    • LCOM 9015.

Broadcasts

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Love music? Looking for new ear-fodder for your commute? We've got you covered.

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Why do we call it 'classical' music?

Tom Service poses a very simple question (with a not-so-simple answer).

Six of the world's most extreme voices

Six of the world's most extreme voices

From babies to Mongolian throat singers: whose voice is the most extreme of all?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How did the number 12 revolutionise music?

How Schoenberg opened a new cosmos for composers and listeners to explore.

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Why are we all addicted to bass?

Bass is everywhere, but why do we enjoy it? Join Tom Service on a journey of discovery.

Watch the animations

Watch the animations

Join Tom Service on a musical journey through beginnings, repetition and bass lines.

When does noise become music?

When does noise become music?

We like to think we can separate “noise” from “music”, but is it that simple?

Podcast