Template:Infobox Instrument

The Magyar dudaHungarian duda—(also known as tömlösíp and börduda) is the traditional bagpipe of Hungary. It is an example of a group of bagpipes called Medio-Carparthian bagpipes. In common with most bagpipes in the area east of an imaginary line running from the Baltics to the Istrian Coast, the duda’s chanters use single reeds much like Western drone reeds.

Dudmaisis or duda are made of sheep, ox, goat or dogskin or of sheep’s stomach. A blowing tube is attached to the top. On one side of the bag is a pipe with fingerholes, on the other side are one or two drone pipes without fingerholes, which play at a single tone. The mouthpieces of the pipes, which have reeds made of goose quill or cane, are usually inside the bag. On the outside end are attached bent horn-shaped tips made of apple or pine wood.

The bagpipes are mentioned in written sources beginning in the 16th century. It was known throughout the territory of Lithuania, but by the middle of the 20th century it survived only near the eastern borders of Lithuania. It was played at celebrations, weddings, taverns, and markets. The bagpipes were often accompanied by fiddles, clarinets, cimbolai, basetle and drums.

Basic constructionEdit

A duda is made of a leather bag, and no less that three pipes of different size: the soska ("nipple"), perabor (chanter) and 'huk'("sound").

The bag is traditionally made from the skin of a badger, goat or calf. The skin is first sewn with fur inside and with only single minimal (double stitch) seam. An additional leather band is then stitched on top of double stitch to create an airtight seal on the bag. Two holes are left open - at the neck and the bottom - then bag is reversed so that the is on the outside.

The soska is a small maple pipe gradually narrowing toward the top. It is used to blow air inside the bag. It is inserted through the hole in the bottom of the bag and the skin is sealed by tying it tightly with thin rope.

The two (or more) other pipes are for playing music. The smaller one - the perabor - is used to play the melody. It is traditionally made from a stick burned through its entire length by a metal rod. Six to eight playing holes are then burned through the side. The holes are placed at the same distance from each other but had different diameters. In eight-hole design, the seventh hole is on the reverse side of the pipe, and the eighth hole is at the bottom of the pipe on the side. A split goose feather or a straw - pishchyk - is inserted into one end of the perabor, which is inserted the bag and tightly sealed with a thin rope. The other end of the perabor is attached to a curved horn - rahaven - with a widening opening made out of an especially hard wood, Karelian birch. Historically, rahavens were very expensive and were often transferred from one generation of musicians to another.

Finally, the huk pipe was made out of large maple stick, also with a pishchyk and rahaven, but without any holes. It produces only a single base tone, called boordon. Traditionally both the perabor and the huk were not only made of the same type of wood, but also from the very same tree to sound in tune.

Magyar duda featuresEdit


The most characteristic feature of the magyar duda is that the perabor is replaced with a double-bored chanter. One chanter bore, the dallamsíp ("melody pipe"), plays the melody within an octave range. The second chanter, the kontrasíp or kontra ("contra pipe") has a single finger hole and sounds either the lowest note on the melody pipe or drops to the dominant (i.e., on a pipe in A it sounds either A or E).

Hungarian piping is characterized by use of the kontra to provide rhythmic accompaniment and to vary the drone sound. The melody pipe has a "flea hole", a common feature in Eastern bagpipes: the top hole on the chanter is very small and uncovering it raises the pitch of any other note by approximately a semitone, making the Hungarian pipe largely chromatic over its range (it lacks a major seventh). In some historic examples, the magyar duda was tuned with a neutral (i.e., between the major and the minor in pitch) third and sixth and the flea hole was filled in with wax.

There is considerable variation in physical appearance of the duda in Hungary, but the most common form has a chanter stock in the form of an animal’s head (usually that of a goat-like animal) and a cow horn bell on both the kontra and the drone. Historically the bag was often made from dog skin (leading to a popular song that stated that prospective bagpipers needed to “go to hell because that’s where the big dogs are from which good bagpipes can be made”), but today goat skin is a much more common material.

Other variationsEdit

Other variations of the duda, especially those played along the Slovakian and Croatian borders, have as many as four chanter pipes. In these examples one hand plays the dominant through the octave on one pipe while the other hand plays the tonic through the subdominant on another (in this case the tonic through the subdominant have no chromatic possibilities except through half-holing since the flea hole is on a separate pipe). If a fourth pipe is added it is a stopped pipe with a thumb hold that sounds the octave when uncovered. (These pipes show the influence of Croatian and Slovakian pipes, both of which commonly have up to four separate chanter bores.)

Hungarian BagpipingEdit

Hungarian bagpiping is characterized in its styling by hiccupping, use of high notes to articulate lower notes, creating a characteristic rhythmic squeaking while the instrument is played. This playing style greatly influenced certain genres of fiddle music in Hungary, and also characterized early church organ music in Hungary: prior to the introduction of organs, the duda had been used to accompany hymnody in churches.


Up until the 1920s the duda was the preferred instrument at celebrations in much of Hungary. As the Hungarian economy improved and the pastoral lifestyle declined in importance, the lone piper at a country ball or wedding was increasingly replaced by professional Gypsy bands (cigánzenekar) that played an urban repertoire on more complex and capable instruments. The Hungarian bagpipe was essentially extinct except in small pockets by the 1950s but was “rescued” as part of the Hungarian folk revival, and is today a very popular instrument among Hungarian folk bands and their fans.

Duda folkloreEdit

As was the case in much of Europe, bagpipes in Hungary were associated with shepherds and a pastoral lifestyle, and were often used in Christmas scenes to evoke the shepherds of the nativity. At the same time the duda was associated with the pagan lifestyle of the countryside. Aside from the above-mentioned song about bagpipers needing to go to hell, according to János Manga’s article ‘Hungarian Bagpipers’ (Acta ethnographica Academiæ Scientiarum Hungaricæ xiv(1–2):1–97) there were many legends about bagpipes that could play themselves when hung from the wall on a nail or about pipers summoned to Witches' Sabbaths to perform for satanic hosts. Despite these stories, the duda never received the same sort of official censure in Catholic Hungary that bagpipes did in many Protestant nations.


There are a number of excellent recordings of the magyar duda, including CDs from the groups Téka and Muzsikás, the soloist Balázs Istvánfi, and the Magyar Dudazenekar (Hungarian Bagpipe Orchestra).