Bagpipes a threat to the environment

No, bagpipe lovers, not noise pollution. The wood used to make the chanter (which looks a bit like a recorder, and makes the melody) is at risk of being wiped out due to intensive logging in Africa. The wood is called African Blackwood, or Mpingo in Swahili. Read more about it in an online article from Scotsman on Sunday.

One thought on “Bagpipes a threat to the environment

  1. Interesting article Kylie. African Blackwood is also popular amongst makers of Irish Uilleann (Union) pipes. The price and scarcity of African Blackwood has seen makers of Uilleann pipes turn to using ebony, and cocobolo and other wood types for their pipes. To see some examples of ebony pipes Check out Australian Uilleann pipemaker Adrian Jeffries homepage: http://www.irishpipes.net/

    Similar wood choices are found amongst Irish and Scottish flute makers. Interestingly, some flute makers are turning to polymer compounds instead of exotic woods. Considering the “I can’t get the wood” problem, I wonder if it will be long before we see polymer Highland and Uilleann bagpipes on the market?

    There are some major benefits to using polymer compounds:

    1 – it will not suffer from changes in the weather e.g. it won’t swell or contract.

    2 – It won’t crack or warp.

    3 – It does not require special care (apart from the occasional wash in warm soapy water!!)

    3 – Polymer is cheaper than exotic woods.

    Check out this article from volume 14 (1996) of the Woodwind Quarterly Journal for more information: http://www.irishflutes.net/mef/Article1.htm

    Slán go fóill

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