Template:Unreferenced Cornish bagpipes are a form of bagpipe once common in Cornwall. Their design is unusual as two long chanters, played independently, form part of the instrument: this allows for interesting harmonies. One chanter plays the upper half of the octave, the other the lower half. Both chanters can play the tonic note and thus, using covered fingering, one can create a constant drone whilst playing the melody. This drone effect is a striking feature of the pipes. The Cornish pipes are also good for low, rich bagpipe accompaniments.

At the present time the number of Cornish pipers who actually use the Cornish pipes (as opposed to Scottish smallpipes) is small. This is partly due to the difficulty of the instrument and partly because each one has to be especially made by a craftsman. Merv Davey of Pyba has done much to explore the possibilities of this instrument. The Cornish pipes are now played at the Cornish gorsedh/gorseth, replacing the brass bands used earlier last century.

History and iconographyEdit

Harry Woodhouse's "Cornish Bagpipes: Fact or Fiction?" provides a detailed discussion of the historical references to piping in Cornwall. Researchers of Cornish music were surprised not to find any living Cornish bagpipe tradition when researching the current music corpus, due to references previously. The Cornish bagpipes available now are based on such references and carvings, the most well known of which is in Altarnun Church. The village church of St Nonna, Altarnun, is notable for its 79 bench end carvings by Robert Daye between 1510 and 1530: these cover a range of subjects including a Cornish piper and fiddler. (Another bagpiper appears on a benchend at Davidstow.)


  • Woodhouse, Harry (1994) Cornish Bagpipes: Fact or Fiction?. Trewirgie: Dyllansow Truran ISBN 1850220700

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