The bronze figure has been reproduced from drawings by Edward King in three positions. The statement made by several writers on music that a bag-pipe is represented on a contorniate of Nero is erroneous, as a verification of certain references will show. The error is due in the first place to Montfaucon, who misunderstood the explanation of Bianchini's drawing which he reproduced. The contorniate referred to is one containing the hydraulic organ, and the legend Laurentinus Aug., but no bag-pipe. Bianchini gives a drawing of a bag-pipe with two long drones, which, he says, was copied from a marble relief over the gateway of the palace of the prince of Santa Croce in Rome, near the church of San Carlo ad Catinarios. If the drawing be accurate and the sculpture of classical Roman period, it would corroborate the details of the instrument held by the little bronze figure of the Roman soldier.
From England the bag-pipe spread to Caledonia and Ireland, where it took root, identifying itself with the life of the people, as a military instrument held in great esteem by the Celtic races. The bag-pipe was used at weddings and funerals, and at all festivals; to lighten labour, during the 18th century, as for instance in Skye, in 1786, when the inhabitants were engaged in roadmaking, and each party of labourers had its bag-piper. It was used in old mysteries at Coventry in 1534. Readers who wish to follow closely the history of the bag-pipe in the British Isles should consult Sir John Graham Dalyell's Musical Memoirs of Scotland (London, 1849, with illustrative plates).
Fig. 2. - Ancient Persian bag-pipe.
On the downfall of the Roman empire, the bag-pipe, sharing the fate of other instruments, probably lingered for a time among itinerant musicians, actors, jugglers, etc., reappearing later in primitive guise with the stamp of naiveté which characterizes the productions of the early middle ages, and with a new name, chorus (q.v.). An illustration of a Persian bag-pipe dating from the 6th century A.D. (reign of Chosroes II.) is to be found on the great arch at Takht-i-Bostan (see fig. 2). This very crude representation of the bag-pipe can only be useful as evidence that during centuries which elapsed between the moulding of the figurine found in the tell at Susa, mentioned above, and the carving in the rock at Takht-i-Bostan, the instrument had survived. The reign of Chosroes was noted for its high standard of musical culture. The fault probably lies with the draughtsman, who drew the sculptures on the arch for the book. Nothing more is heard henceforth of the tibia utricularis. If the drawings of the early medieval bag-pipes, which are by no means rare in MSS. and monuments of the 9th to the 13th century, are to be trusted, it seems hard to understand the raison d'être of the instrument shorn of its drones, to see how it justified its existence except as an ill-understood reminiscence.
What could be the object of laboriously inflating a bag for the purpose of making a single chaunter speak, which could be done so much more satisfactorily by taking the reed itself into the mouth, as was the practice of the Greeks and Romans? There is a fine psalter in the library of University Court, Glasgow, belonging co the Hunterian collection, in which King David is represented, as usual in the 12th century, playing or rather tuning a harp, surrounded by musicians playing bells, rebec, guitar fiddle (in 'cello position), quadruple pipes or ganistrum, and a bag-pipe with long chaunter having a well-defined stock. The insufflation tube appears to have been left out, and there are no drones to be seen.
There are interesting specimens of bag-pipes in Spanish illuminated MSS. such as the magnificent volume of the Cantigas di Santa Maria, in the Escurial, compiled for King Alphonso the Wise (13th century). There are fifty-one separate figures of instrumentalists forming a kind of introduction to the canticles, and among the instruments are three bag-pipes, one of which is a remarkable instrument having no less than four long drones and two chaunters which by an error of the draughtsmen are represented as being blown from the piper's mouth. The fifty-one musicians have been reproduced in black and white by Juan F. Riano and also by Don F. Aznar. Another fine Spanish MS. in the British Museum, Add. MS. 18,851, of the end of the 15th century, illustrated by Flemish artists for presentation to Queen Isabella, displays a profusion of musical instruments in innumerable concert scenes; there are bag-pipes on f. 13,412b and 419; one of these has two drones, one conical, the other cylindrical, bound together, and a curved chaunter.
The most trustworthy evidence we have of the medieval bag-pipe is the fine Highland bag-pipe dated 1409, and belonging to Messrs J. & R. Glen, described above. Edward Buhle points out that from the 13th century the bag-pipe became a court instrument played by minnesingers and troubadours, as seen in literature and in the MSS. and monuments. It was about 1250 that the human or animals' heads were used as stocks and as bells for the chaunters. The opinion advanced that the bellows were first added to the bag-pipe in Ireland seems untenable and is quite unsupported by facts; the bellows were in all probability added to the union-pipes in imitation of the musette. In the Image of Ireland and Discoverie of Woodkarne, by John Derrick, 1581, the Irish insurgents are portrayed in pictures full of life and character, as led to rebellion and pillage by a piper armed with a bag-pipe, similar to the Highland bag-pipe. The cradle of the musette is inconceivable anywhere but in France, among the courtiers and elegant world, turning from the pomps and luxuries of court life to an artificial admiration and cult of Nature, idealized to harmonize with silks and satins.