Guide to the Welsh 'Pibgorn’ Pipes

Pibau cyrn – Welsh bagpipe by John Tose.

Pibau cyrn – Welsh bagpipe by John Tose.

The Pibgorn is a Welsh reed-pipe (a kind of ‘bag-less’ bagpipe, if you will, similar to the Basque alboka), with a long history of use in Wales going back to the Middle Ages. There is a Pibgorn revival at present, and some makers have ’re-bagged’ the pipe to recreate and revive the equally ancient Welsh Bagpipe.

Unique amongst British pipes in having a single reed, Welsh Pibgorn Pipes tend to be in D, have an eight note scale, use open fingering and have a single drone on the shoulder. Drones can usually be retuned up a tone, so that minor modes can be played. The chanter usually ends in a piece of carved horn, projecting forwards and amplifying the sound.

With a repertoire drawn from traditional Welsh sources (and even hymns) they sound ancient and very different from all other British pipes.

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