The gaida (bagpipe) is a musical instrument, aerophone, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag.
The gaida, and its variations, is a traditional musical instrument for entire Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The several variations of gaida are in: Albania (Gajde) Czech Republic (bock), Romania (cimpoi), Croatia (diple and surle), Hungary (duda), Slovenia (dude), Poland (duda, gaidu and koza), Russia (mih, sahrb, volinka and shapar), Turkey (tulum ang gaida), Serbia (gajde, diple and zurle), FYROM (gajda), Greece (tsampouna, askompandoura, gaida and pipiza), Slovakia (gaidu), Bulgaria (gaida), Spain (gaita and cheremia), Georgia (guda, tulum, zimbona, dankiyo, gudastviri and sivir) Ukraine (volinka) Italy (zambogna, piva, müsa and baghèt), Armenia (parkapzuk), Azerbaijan (tuluk), Egypt (zukra and mezued), Iran (نیانبان ney-anbān) Sweden (säckpipa), United Kingdom (Great Highland bagpipe, Northumbrian smallpipe, border pipe, Scottish smallpipe, Cornish bagpipe, Welsh pipe, pastoral pipe, English pipe, Zetland pipe), Portugal (gaita), Malta (zaqq and qrajna), Bahrain (jirda), Kuwait (habban), Libya (zokra), Tunisia (mizwad), Algeria (Ghaida), Finland (säkkipilli), Estonia (torupill), Latvia (dudas), Lithuania (labanoro Dūda), Ireland (Uilleann pipe, Great Irish warpipe, Brian Boru bagpire and pastoral pipe), France (musette de cour, biniou, veuze, cabrette, chabretee, bodega, boha, cornemuse du Centre, chabrette poitevine, caramusa, musette bechonnet, bousine and loure), The Netherlands (doedelzak and muchosa), Germany (dudelsack huemmelchen and dudy), Austria (bock), Switzerland (Schweizer sackpfeife).
The bag is the reservoir that supplies the pipes with air. It is an airtight sack made out of goat or sheep hide. When this bag is squeezed under the player's arm, air is forced through the reeds of the pipes, creating sound. Different regions have different ways of treating the hide. The simplest methods involve just the use of salt, while more complex treatments involve milk, flour, and the removal of fur. In the Macedonian regions, the hide is normally turned inside out so that the fur is on the inside of the bag, as this helps with moisture buildup within the bag. The stocks into which the chanters and blowpipe and drone fit are called "glavini" (главини) in Bulgarian. These can be made out of cornel wood or animal horn.
This is a short, conical wooden or bone tube in which the player blows to refill the bag. At the end of the blow pipe that is within the bag, there is a small check valve of leather or felt that allows air into the bag via the blow pipe but not back out.
These are the pipes that play the melody.
Reeds (lemellas, Piska)
Each chanter is fitted with a reed made from reed (arundo donax), bamboo, or elder. The reed is fitted into the end of the chanter that goes into the bag. The reed itself is a round tube plugged at one end with cork, wax or the natural walls of the reed. The other end is open and a tongue is cut that vibrates when air is passed through. The end of the reed is wrapped in string (usually Hemp) to create an airtight seal when inserted into the chanter. The length of the reed that protrudes from the chanter determines the chanter's tuning, and can be adjusted by sliding it in or out. The wrapping is traditionally lubricated with suet, although the same cork grease used for clarinets also works well. If the reeds do not sound properly, the notch cut in the open end of the reed can be tightened by using a rubber band to squeeze the tube.
Melody chanter (gaidunitza, gaidanitsa, Zurle)
This is a smaller tube (chanter) with a conical bore (in Bulgaria), cylindrical bore (in Macedonia and other regions), made from boxwood (shimshir) cornel wood, plum wood or other fruit wood. It has 8 holes in it: the top four are covered by the thumb and first three fingers of the left hand, then the four fingers of the right hand cover the remaining four holes. An important feature of the gaida's chanter (which it shares with a number of other Eastern European bagpipes) is the "flea-hole" (also known as a mumbler or voicer) which is covered by the index finger of the left hand. The flea-hole is smaller than the rest and usually consists of a small tube that is made out of metal or a chicken or duck feather. Uncovering the flea-hole raises any note played by a half step, and it is used in creating the musical ornamentation that gives Balkan music its unique character.
Drone (ruchilo, ison)
This pipe is a long, three-piece tube. It has no fingerholes, unlike the melody chanter, since it only plays one note, a drone. This note is normally lower than those played by the melody chanter, as it is longer and its reed is twice as big.
Cleaning and preserving the gaida
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It is an old tradition that when you have finished playing the gaida, a small (30ml) glass of homemade liquor (rakia) is poured into the bag. This works as an antiseptic within the skin to stop it from rotting. A typical well-looked-after gaida can last more than 30 years. In modern times, it is sometimes popular to rub the gaida's bag with handlotion.
References and notes
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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