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Great Highland Bagpipe

There are many kinds of bagpipes, but the best-known is the piob mhor or Great Highland Bagpipes, which were developed in Scotland. A set has two tenor drones (an octave below the fundamental of the chanter), one bass drone (an octave below the tenor), a blowpipe and a chanter pitched in B flat mixolydian (usually referred to and always written as A). This type of bagpipe is widely used by both soloists and pipe bands, both civilian and military and are now played in countries around the world, particularly countries with strong colonial or emigrant associations, most particularly Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Two types of music are generally played on the piob mhor. The newer, more common type is the marching or dance music often played by pipe bands. This is known as light music,(or Ceol Beag) and consists primarily of Marches, Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, Jigs and Airs. This was originally developed for the military. The older, less common type is the Piobaireachd, (Ceol Mhor) often known as the classical music of the pipes, which is much more tonal and less rhythmical. This is normally played solo and because of its haunting, evocative nature often takes the form of laments.

Historically each Scottish clan had its own piper to provide entertainment in times of peace and encouragment in battle. When the British army organized Scottish regiments they included pipers. Bagpipes were used in combat at least until the Second World War. Military pipe bands are now a popular part of many countries' armies.