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Brian McCandless, physicist at the University of Delaware and Librarian for the Cecil County Historical Society, piper and pipe-maker, was prevented from attending the 1999 Collogue in Glasgow where he was to have given a paper on the Pastoral pipes. In his absence Jon Swayne read that paper along with his own on the same subject (see COM- MON STOCK Vol 14 No 2, Dec 1999). Brian has kindly provided his paper for publication together with some illustrations which were not all available at the Collogue.



The short version of the paper is that the term “Pastoral Bagpipe” is a justifiably descrip- tive name for a bagpipe that took its place in the organological and musicological history of Britain and Ireland. Had I been able to attend the Collogue, I would have enjoyed performing Scottish, English, Irish and French pastoral airs for you on my Pastoral bag- pipe.

I first became acquainted with the pastoral bagpipe through its relative, the Irish Uillean bagpipe, at a Tionol held in Philadelphia in 1985. Bill Ochs, a New York City Uillean piper and historian, presented a slide show on the history of Irish bagpipes and dis- cussed an 18th century variant, known throughout Britain and Ireland, and character- ized its chanter extension, the so-called “foot-joint”. By the end of the weekend, further discussion with Denis Brooks and Alan Jones made me more curious about this instru- ment than the Uillean pipes I had come to learn to play!

During the next two years I would meet Hamish Moore and Sam Grier, both of whom were enthusiastic about this “forgotten bagpipe” and seemed frustrated by the dearth of information regarding its traditions, repertoire, and chanter set-up. In those days, Hamish was performing the popular 18th century air Roslyn Castle, which it turns out was also popular in the States, having been adopted by a Massachusetts fife corps as a funeral march in 1781 and published in Boston Magazine in 1783.

Same Grier, a Clydebank transplant to Denver and later to South Carolins had written to me that his itinerant grandfather had played upon a bellows pipe called “a chanter pipe”. This was an overblowing instrument with a second chanter mounted on the common drone- stock, the tone holes being plugged up by balls of wax except for the desired harmony note. Sam acquired his Pastoral pipes from Gordon Rust and took to playing Scottish tunes like The Haughs of Cromdale, Tweedside, and A charming Nun to a Fryar Came .


The last two tunes are to be found in a combined tutor book and tune collection first published in London around 1746 by an Irishman, John Geoghegan. The book was part of a series of musical instruction books, and its author may have been the same John Gahagan who was a known musical performer in Dublin’s taverns and theaters in the last quarter of the 18'h century.

I will not dwell on Mr. Geoghegan, per se, other than to note that his time in London seems to have kept him close to the theatre district, where he was acquainted with the mu- sic of influential English composers such as Ravencroft and Gay. It may even be the case that the repertoire was put to him by his editor, his job being to write the tutor and adapt the tunes. Mr. Geoghegan’s tutor book is our subject, and the cover page reads as follows:

“The Compleat Tutorfor the Pastoral or new bagpipe, containing all the necessary instructions for such as are desirous to play that instru- ment, and  attain the true knowledge of all the princi- ples thereof never before publish’dwrote by Mr. Jn.

Geoghegan. To which is added a collection of familiar airs, light jigs, etc, curiously adapted to that instrument. ”




Delightfully, his book was printed with a Frontispiece that depicts       a                              gentleman performing upon a bellows- blown bagpipe, giving us an instrument to associate with his name; the names of his subject bagpipe are presented anti-alphabetically, opting for1 Pastoral', then 'New'. In those days, the term 'pastoral'

or ‘pastorale’, from ‘father’ or ‘shepherd’, referred to contexts, plays or stories relating to pastoral themes involving shepherds and other 'paysans'.


The Oxford English Dictionary gives us a 1724 definition of 'pastorale':


"Pastorale is an air composed after a very sweet, easy, gentle manner, in imitation of those airs which shepherds are sup- posed toplay."

This same aesthetic was well- inio the royal courts of Europe during this period and has en- joyed cyclic revival over sub- sequent centuries, including the so- called hippy movement of the 1960s, which spawned a renewed interest in defunct ‘folk’ music and instru- ments, appealing to the elegiac of pastorale .


"Going up the country, baby do you want to go? Going some- place I’ve never been be- fore." [Canned Heat, 1969].

Back to Geoghegan’s title page

- he declares to be the first to publish the principles of play- ing this form of bagpipe and he offers a repertoire that is

“curiously adapted”. Thus, it seems clear that Mr. Geoghegan was neither documenting nor reporting on an extant tradition, rather, he more-or-less invented one, as indicated fur- ther on in his Preface:

“The bagpipe being at this time brought to such perfection as now it renders it able to per- form the same number of notes with the flute or hautboy, I thought it might be accept- able to the curious to set forth this small treatise [which] will not be unacceptable to the professors of this ancient pastoral music................. ” .


It is easy to imagine that he and his editors were having a field day adapting all sorts of instruments for the capabilities of the rank-and-file gentlemen of the day. He goes on to reveal that the primary stumbling block for

“some young Gentlemen of good genius who are disposed to play this instrument…”


is want for a scale or gamut. He remedies this by providing fingering scales for naturals, sharps and flats. Geoghegan even informs us that one maker has:

“...of late invented a way of fixing two keys to the chanter or pipe, whereupon the notes of the music are made, which perform a note more than any other pipe or hautboy and make some sharp and flat notes with great exactness…”


It is precisely this invented aspect of the ‘Pastoral’ or ‘New’ bagpipe that gets of the craw of Joseph MacDonald who, in 1762, wrote:

“In the low countries, where they use the bellows to their pipes, having no music in the style of this instrument, they have enlarged the compass of it by adding pinching notes for the better imitation of other music. With this they imitate Scotch tunes, and minuets etcetera. And some Italian music, while they have nothing for another part of their drones, which...must prove but a pitiful concord, and can never answer the design of any part, as the notes of a counter, tenor, second, treble, bass, etcetera must be varie- gated for every single bar, or passage...The low country pipe is tolerably well calcu- lated for violin reels and some pipe jigs; but of no great execution, as they have neither sound nor strength of reeds for it.


The noise of their drones drowns any execution of the chanter; whereas the chanter should exceed the loudness of the drones by at leas 5 degrees, the drones being the worst part of the music. If the low country chanter were taken out and played by itself, as a hautboy [oboe], clarinet, etcetera. It’s having pinching notes might enable it to bear a pan in a concen with such instruments, and the notes might be cut in the same way, but as it is, having no proper music of its own, and being a most insipid and un- natural imitation of any other music, except by a few jigs and reels, it is most justly es- teemed an insipid instrument, by such as no music and don’t know the proper manage- ment of this.”


This sentiment was succinctly restated in A.D. Fraser’s The Bagpipe (1907). A glance through his plates and those in W.H. Grattan Flood’s Bagpipe (1911), and looking at extant instruments reveals that much experimenting in chanter and drone design indeed occurred during the previous two centuries.


Mr. Geoghegan’s motive in pushing this particular new-fangled instrument may be hinted at in the Treatise portion of his tutor:

“…...I scarce have occasion to describe the knowledge of that being so easily had, how- ever since this instrument may by the scale now made to learn by it; become more univer- sal, not only in this but other nations…”

It seems that this little tutor book served more than one purpose or interest; that there was a pastoral aesthetic worth re-capturing, that it could be done with a newly-refined instrument, that the instrument was capable of “keeping- up” with other instruments of the day, and that there were “nations” who would be well-served by it. Had he embarked on a musical mission under the guise of bringing a Celtic relic to London’s gentlefolk?

Geoghegan’s Compleat Tutor was reprinted at least four times, lastly in 1805. The early editions featured a smattering of London stage tunes, one or more of his own composi- tions, and Scottish and Irish airs. For the last edition, many of these were abandoned in favour of a more Scottish repertoire. In 1784,-Jean Gehot replicated Geoghegan’s names, describing the Pastoral or New Bagpipe in his The Theory and Practice of Music, London. These documents appear to be the only extant 18th century records naming the “Pastoral” or “New” bagpipe.

Keeping the London connection going, it is probably significant that Geoghegan’s 1746 Frontispiece engraving, William Hogarth’s 1728 engraving “The Beggars' Opera Bur- lesqued”, and Bowles and Carvers’ 1780 engraving “A Scots Entertainment” all depict performers of the bellow-blown Pastoral Bagpipe in a standing posture, with the “unregulatored” drone stand or set lying horizontal across the player’s arm. Although the name “pastoral” was not used, William Tans’ur in his New Musica Dictionary, pub- lished in London in 1766 gave the following entry for a bagpipe:

“...a kind of pocket organ, blown by a bag under the arm; some by the mouth and some with a bellows, under the other arm. There is generally 3 pipes, viz. the great pipe or drone and the little drone; each having no holes, only at the bottom; and tuned in concord to each other, and to the chanter or smallpipe, which is about 15 inches long, with 8 holes like a flute. They all have reeds, in their tops, and make a fine harmony; especially if they have a flat chanterin the D pitch...”


This type of bagpipe was well known in Scotland into the 1800s, as attested by James Logan in his Scottish Gael, first published in 1836, in which he contrasts our subject bag- pipes with “Lowland” and “Union” bagpipes; he labels our subject bagpipes as “Irish


pipes”, thus:

“The sharp Lowland pipes have the same tone as the Highland, but are less sonorous, and are blown by bellows, put in motion by the arm opposite to that under which the bag is held. This is the manner of giving wind to the Irish pipes, like which they also have the three drones fixed in one stock and not borne over the shoulder, but laid horizon- tally over the arm. The Union pipes, that have been called the Irish organ, are the sweetest of musical instruments; the formation of the reeds, and the length of the pipes, increased by brass tubes, produce the most delightful and soothing melody, while by the additionof many keys, and the capability of the chanter, any tune may be performed. ”


The “Irish pipe” was distinctly defined in published works as early as 1798, as found in Dobson’s Encyclopedia, published in Philadelphia:

“...The Irish pipe. This is the softest, and in some respects the most melodius of any, so that music books have been published with directions how to play on it. The chanter, like that of all the rest, has eight holes like the English flute and is played on by opening and shutting the holes as occasion requires; the bass consists of two short drones, and a long one. The lowest note on the chanter is D on the German flute being the open note on the counter string of a violin; the small drone (one of them commonly being stopped up) is tuned in unison with the note above this and the large one an octave below; so that a great length is required in order to produce such a low note, on which account the drone hath sometimes two or three turns. ”


Although here it seems that the foot-joint is not part of the instrument, other qualities of its tuning and sound are noted. No-one in the above references has alluded to the use of a regulator, and it is not until O’Farrell’s circa 1800. publication, Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes...with the Most perfect Instructions Ever Yet Published for the Pipes, that we find mention and instruction for a bagpipe with a regu- lator, tying it squarely to the term “Union” bagpipe.

During the 19th century, illustrations of the “Union” bagpipe abound, but the problem is that the instruments with and without foot-joints are shown, and regulators are not always clearly visible. Some of the “Lowland” bagpipe illustrations depict instruments being played in sitting postures, drones acrossthe thigh, as we now associate with the “Uillean” bagpipes, such as depicted in the engravings by Walter Geike in 1830 and John Sands in 1870, made for John and Robert Glen.

My favourite and by far one of the clearest examples of a piper playing a foot-jointed pastoral-type chanter is by the Scottish painter Erskine Nicol, in 1862, entitled “The


Trio” [see COMMON STOCK Vol 14 No 2 p.35. Ed]. He painted this in Dublin as part of his mission to portray the life of the working Irish; in so doing he clearly depicted the context of a two-drone Patoral Bagpipe, played in accompaniment with flute and fiddle.

To give a sense of how the names for this instrument have changed over time, I would like to present a selected list with dates and references:




Big Pipe


G. Skene MS

Pastoral Bagpipe


Geoghegan’s Tutor

New Bagpipe


Geoghegan’s Tutor and Gehot’s Treatise

Low Country Pipe


J. MacDonald MS

Irish Pipe


J. Sutherland MS

Union Pipe


O’Farrell’s Tutor

Union Pipe


Fitzmaurice MS

Union Pipe


Millar Ms

Big Northumberland Pipe 1857 J Reid MS Old Irish Pipe          1907          A.D. Fraser

Lowland Chamber Pipe 1911     Palace of History Exhibition, Glasgow Northumbrian Bagpipe  1911       W.H. Grattan Flood

Long Pipe                 1930          W.A. Cocks Hybrid Union Bagpipe 1930 W.A. Cocks Union Bagpipe 1960          A. Baines

To end this narrative, I will briefly relate the story of an old Pastoral bagpipe I have come to know personally.

In 1830, William Squier left his home in Bucklyvie, Scotland, for America, landing in Bal- timore and settling in Cecil County, Maryland. He brought with him his family, letters of reference, a 16th century German version of the New Testament, a wooden flute, and a Pastoral bagpipe. Family lore holds that the Squiers were pipers to the Clan MacGregor and that William’s father had made the flute and bagpipe in the last half of the 18th cen- tury. Having come to America to pursue a ministry in the Presbyterian Church, William and later his son John were said to have a low regard for the family’s old ways, but kept the relics as a reminder of their humble beginnings. The Squier family went on to be- come notable educators, inventors, and politicians in Marylandand Wisconsin, and the


old relics were passed by a descendant, Samuel Squier, to Richard Mackie, a friend of my own family, in 1975. In 1977 Mr. Mackie took the pipes to Scotland, where Hugh Cheape photographed themfor the Country Life Archive.

Since then the pipes have lain in a bank vault, and I have had the opportunityto meas- ure and replicate them. The original chanter plays in Eb, as does the flute. The flute is made of the same wood as the bagpipe drones and chanter, and appears to be a native hardwood, not rosewood - see photo.


For the future, there is more analysis needed of Geoghegan’s little tutor, such as reconciling his procedure for tuning drones to the chanter and his choice of tunes; for it seems that much was forced onto an instrument that exceeded its inventors’ intentions. Introducing the instrument into the current “folk” milieu bears some consideration, as does experimenting with it in baroque and even early music contexts, where the drone allows. Suffice to say that there are a great many melodies that lie well on the pastoral chanter, with drones tuned to the chanter 6-fingr note, and a great effect can be obtained by tuning the drones up one note and playing tunes in E-minor and A-minor. Finally, the cross

-fingering aspect of the chanter works, for the most part, and does permit excursions into D-minor and F, using the D drone; this allows access to music of the sort being composed currently in France - in a chicken-and-egg analysis, I don’t think we can afford to overlook the Continental connection between bagpipes, indeed most musical instru- ments.

For those interested in corresponding with me about pastoral and related bagpipes, you can write to me: Brian E. McCandless, 243 West Main Street, Elkton, Maryland 21921 USA. Or

-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.