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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 2 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

For more information on the album click on the cover at left


GRANDE CORNEMUSE
France ~ Bourbonnais
conical-bore chanter, double-blade reed; two cylindrical-bore drones, single-blade reeds

Sound Sample in .MP3 format

sound samples copyright 1999 by Oliver Seeler & Sean Folsom

General Comments:

Perhaps the most classical of the various French bagpipes, the Cornemuse is found in quite a number of varieties, which differ primarily in their size and thus pitch. It is also found in many regions of France other than Bourbonnais. Once a very powerful instrument, modern examples are often made to play softly - this in response, presumably, to indoor use, and use of the pipe in modern folk-music groups.


By the way, there's a certain linguistic problem in that "cornemuse" has come to be used in French to denote any sort of bagpipe. Long arguments with a flavor of which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg can revolve around this, but not here.

Musical Notes:


On the CD, this Cornemuse is accompanied by another ancient instrument - the Vielle a Roue, or Wheel Fiddle (also sometimes called a "Hurdy-Gurdy," although that term is also applied to the sort of portable organ operated by monkeys). The Vielle was one of the first instruments to give bagpipes serious competition as a solo instrument capable of providing powerful music for large gatherings.


The scales and key signatures given may be regarded as approximations; bagpipes may deviate from conventional standards in absolute and relative pitch.


Left, The French Cornemuse being played by Sean Folsom; right, Arrigo D'Albert accompanying on the French Vielle a Roue (also known as "Wheel Fiddle" and "Hurdy-Gurdy"). The two instruments have been played together for centuries.

Detail showing the chanter and smaller drone emerging from a common stock.

This configuration is not uncommon among continental European bagpipes and can be seen in many old works of art.
Top to bottom, bass drone & single-blade reed, tenor drone & single-blade reed, chanter and double-blade reed.


Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2002, Oliver Seeler,

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