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Small Pipe Society

The Smallpipe Society is a group of bagpipers looking for alternatives to Highland Bagpiping.

Smallpipes are the smaller, more soft-spoken cousins of the Great Highland Bagpipes. They come in different configurations, and from different geographical areas and cultures. Some examples are the Scottish Small Pipes, Lowland or Border Pipes, Northumbrian Small Pipes, Medieval English Pipes, and Irish Uilleann Pipes. Each have unique characteristics and produce their own distinct tone qualities.

Traditional Scottish Small Pipes are bellows-blown and have multiple drones emanating from a common drone stock. Each drone produces a unique pitch or range of pitches. The chanter is pitched in A (440) but is also available in other pitches (D, G, and C).  Drones are tuned alternately to A, E, A, and E, but in many cases are adjustable.  Chanters have a cylindrical bore and drones have a broader scope of tuning capabilities.  Unlike the Great Highland Bagpipe, drones are often tuned to the key the tune is in.


The extensive repertoire of smallpipe music is usually associated with music for the dance.  Slow Airs, Hornpipes, Reels, and Jigs are among the most common forms used. Small pipes are usually played while seated, and seldom used for parades, ceremonies, or competitions.  It’s really a solo or session instrument.


Embellishments are sometimes used, but not always. In fact, the rule for embellishments in Scottish Small Piping is that there are no rules.


We play primarily for the enjoyment of playing, and have a lot of fun with music in the process.


Ralph Loomis

The Smallpipe Society