The great highland bagpipe scale and sensory dissonance

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This article aims to illustrate some of the features of the tuning of the highland bagpipe scale in terms of the consonance and dissonance of the chanter against the drones. It presents a theoretical plot which estimates how the sensory dissonance varies for every possible tuning of the chanter. This is achieved by charting a steady glissando from low G to high A, using different colours for the different numbers of harmonics present in chanter, tenor drone and bass drone spectra. Such a visual representation may be of practical assistance to players, reed makers and bagpipe makers who are seeking to achieve a better sound. It also offers a new understanding and clearer explanation of why the bagpipe scale is non-standardised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18
Number of pages20
JournalPiping Today
Issue number75
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Bagpipes
  • Dissonance
  • Drone
  • Sensory
  • Consonance
  • Chanter
  • Flattened seventh
  • Intonation
  • Scale


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