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Portrait of Francois Langlois By Van Dyck (1599-1641)
Shuttle pipes are a type of bagpipe which derive their name from the type of drones used to provide the harmony. Rather than the long tube-like drones which are employed by most bagpipes, the shuttle pipes use a shuttle drone. Shuttle drones consist of a series of winding tubes enclosed in a wooden chamber. Each shuttle drone tube terminates in hollowed-out groove which is partially covered by a slide or 'shuttle' . This shuttle is moved back and forth over the groove, in effect lengthening or shortening the tube, thus flattening or sharpening the pitch.
Like all other bagpipes, shuttle pipes have a chanter which is used to play the melody. Shuttle pipes can be either mouth-blown or they may use a bellows to fill the bag. The French Musette is a very famous type of bellows-blown shuttle pipe which reputedly played by King Louis XIV of France. A colorful bagpiper with his Musette is depicted in the classic painting 'Portrait of Francois Langlois' by Van Dyck (1599-1641).

Shuttle pipes were very popular about 300-400 years ago, but as with almost all of the European forms of the bagpipe, they neared extinction. Fortunately, a new popularity has brought this wonderful type of bagpipe back to the forefront.

Drawing from Michael Praetorius's Syntagma musicum  (Treatise of Music) of 1618. Used with permission of Author.

Music of Elegance and Distinction

by Dr. Raphael Pazo, Highland Bagpiper 


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