These are a quiet bellows-blown bagpipe with an attractive tone. The chanter is open-ended and plays the Highland Bagpipe scale of one octave with a flattened seventh. The chanter is normally played using the Scottish system of covered fingering, but may be played with closed fingering. These pipes are available in the keys of D, C, B flat and A. A is a popular key. The hole spacing is similar to the Highland Pipes and the music is played as written, without transposing. D is a good choice for group work because of the clear bright tone.
Combination A/D set
An increasingly popular option with four drones and a choice of A and D chanters. The drones play bass A, baritone D/E, tenor g/a and alto d/e, allowing a wide variety of drone combinations for either chanter.
If you are new to the instrument, it is worth noting that the Scottish Smallpipes are not merely a cut-down version of the Highland Bagpipes, with bellows attached. Their dimensions, reeds and overall design are quite different. Any smallpipes based on a Highland practice chanter with a plastic reed will give an inferior tone in comparison to our sets. (Just as we would not try to adapt our instruments and expect them to sound like the Highland Bagpipes!)
A brief note on gracings
The Scottish Smallpipe is a very flexible instrument, and can be played with closed or open fingering. For those used to Highland gracing, it should be noted that the scottish smallpipe chanter is quieter at the lower end, and gracing techniques may need to be revised. Many people like to play with minimal, or no grace notes.
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