Pipe Major Len Wood brings a lifetime of bagpiping experience to the centuries of tradition and musical heritage of the bagpipes. Len is a member of the Piobaireachd Society in Scotland and is the Piping Instructor at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Do you want to learn to play the bagpipes? Len's prize-winning playing, superb teaching and infectious enthusiasm will inspire students of any age.

Do you need a bagpiper for a wedding, funeral, or other special event? Len’s experience, professional attitude and congenial personality, plus a detailed consultation to select the perfect music, will add the right emotional tone to the occasion.

Bagpipes and Bagpipers

Practically every country in Europe has had a bagpipe of some size or shape. The Romans seem to get most of the credit for spreading bagpipes around the "civilized" map.  Their legions marched to the bagpipe and even the elite played them.  One story is that the Emperor Nero played the bagpipe as Rome burned; the fiddle hadn't quite made it to Central Europe by that time.

This is where the inhabitants of Scotland and Ireland picked up their bagpipe, says one theory. This is a credible explanation, but it would be a simple thing for a shepherd with lots of time on his hands to put the necessary bag, blowpipe and flute together in the highlands of Scotland.  The bagpipe of today is little more than additions and refinement of this basic instrument.

The bagpipe that is most commonly played around the world today is the Great Highland Warpipe. With the exception of the recent introduction of synthetics, the instrument is basically the same as that played in the highlands of Scotland and parts of Ireland nearly 400 years ago.  It has an airtight reservoir called a bag, which can be made of the hides of sheep, cow, kangaroo or horse or synthetics like Gore-Tex. A blowpipe is used to fill the bag with air. Three drones, two tenors and one bass, provide the constant hum in the background. They are generally made from hard, dense wood; ebony or African Blackwood are the most popular woods used. The chanter is the last pipe attached to the bag. It has eight holes on which the melody is played.

Only one scale is played on this bagpipe, a total of nine notes, similar to the Greek Natural Scale.  Because the bag has to be inflated before playing, music is written in a continuous fashion without rests.  To make the best of this composers have developed a somewhat complicated system of grace notes. In the tradition of the Great Highland Warpipe, an individual has to play these movements or he isn't playing the instrument.

Today's piper shares a great tradition with performers from hundreds of years.  Enjoy!  LW

Scotland the Brave
The Minstrel Boy
Amazing Grace
Intercontinental Gathering

© 2007 Leonard E. Wood
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