The hornpipe is a class of woodwind instruments consisting of a single reed, a small diameter melody pipe with finger holes and a bell traditionally made from animal horn. A reed cap of animal horn is also placed around the reed to contain the breath and allow circular breathing for constant play. As a single-reed instrument, it is played with the mouth and in some cases, with a bag like a Bladder pipe. It was also known as the Whithorn, pibcorn, pibgorn, or piccorn, One rare example, called a Scottish Stock-and-Horn by Robert Burns, is similar to the alboka and zummara. Other hornpipes include the Spanish gaita gastoreña and the Russian zhaleika.
The traditional hornpipe has a narrow internal bore between 4mm and 12mm, with an idioglot reed, similar to a bagpipe drone reed, surrounded by an enclosed cap made of horn or wood. Sometimes the horn cap is sealed with the players lips. The melody pipe(s) can have between 5 (pentatonic) and 7 finger holes (of which one is a thumb hole). The bell is shaped from a section of horn and has tuning holes or is modified to tune the bell note. This instrument is one of the ancient predecessors to all our modern reed instruments.
- Baines, Anthony C. 1995 Bagpipes, 3rd ed. Occasional Papers on Technology. Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum.
- Highland hornpipe background
- Henry Balfour, "The Old British "Pibcorn" or "Hornpipe" and its Affinities", The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1891), pp. 142-154 (abstract on JSTOR)