The basic structure to pipes are the bag, drones and chanter. The drones provide the humming sound heard as the piper plays. The melody is produced from the chanter. The trick is to maintain a consistent flow of air through the reeds in the drones and chanter (whether it's mouth blown or using a bellow) while squeezing a leather bag on the left side of the body between the arm and torso.
This is an Aboriginal instrument that is actually classified as the only mouth blown percussion instrument. It is typically made of hollowed out tree branch or bamboo. The one's you see here are about 4 feet long. Traditionally the Aboriginals play these are part of the religious experience, making sound and cries of the local wild life.
The one on your right is the typical whistle. The one on your left is the low D whistle made of aluminum. It is actually designed after the Native American whistle. The musician that designed this aluminum version did so because he played the wooden one so much that it rotted away!
This is a bellow blown pipe. The bellow is on right arm and the bag is on the left. The drones lay across the arm.
This pipe is also bellows blown. You need to sit down when playing as the drones are about 3 feet long and designed to lay across the lap. This pipe is particular to Ireland. It's the most common of the pipes played in major movie films (Brave Heart, Rob Roy, Titanic).
I've been playing the Great Highland Bagpipes for over 20 years. It's been a pleasure to successfully compete in competitions across the US and Canada as both a band member and individual. My vast experience playing in over 300 weddings and 100 funeral ceremonies provides a solid foundation on how the pipes can provide the best effect in various events. Each situation is different and needs to be handled uniquely.
In addition to the pipes I'm holding in this picture to the left (Great Highland Bagpipes), there are other pipes that I enjoy playing (see below).
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