Electronic Bagpipes are
Can we imagine the ceremonial brigade piper taking his electronic bagpipes onto the battlefield to keep up the morale of his fellow men? It doesn't quite ring true, does it?
Nevertheless electronic bagpipes do exist, and much like the electric violin and the electric guitar before them, while purists will struggle to come to terms with them, there are some benefits to having electronic bagpipes.
In fact, there are many types of electronic bagpipes, but in truth none of them are bagpipes at all; they do not utilise the bag at all, except in some models where a simulated bag is pressed by the player, the actual pressure on this being digitally measured and used to standardised the drone. Most electronic bagpipes are actually complete simulations of the bagpipe by digital sounds, and are really a simple, digital chanter and sometimes drones that requires only the placing of fingers to create a simulated bagpipe sound.
It is easy to see from this description why the concept of electronic bagpipes will not interest the traditional piper, and maybe even annoy him (or her), for as we have said part of the skill in playing the pipes is in the actual method used to do so. Where the traditional bagpipes are played by pushing the air out of the bag, air that has been blown in by the player, other types – the Northumbrian small pipes especially – operate by way of a bellows, using no mouth input at all.
It could perhaps be said, then, that electronic bagpipes are a cousin of the Northumbrian pipes and other bellows operated instruments, with the element of the bellows replaced by the digital simulation effects.
There are players of electronic bagpipes who enjoy their versatility and ease of use, much as those who prefer an electric guitar to an acoustic one, and there will be a growth in popularity as the simulated sounds become more realistic, but we cannot see electronic bagpipes ever replacing the traditional instruments of a classic Scottish pipe band!
It is a welcome diversion, nonetheless, that someone saw fit to create electronic bagpipes in the first place, and they do make an interesting instrument with some innovative uses; if you are interested in finding out more about electronic bagpipes there is much information on the internet, and a quick web search should give you access to as much advice as you could require.