The Bagpipe Society

In the Bag

Castus Rabensang is one of the founder members of the German neo-medieval band, Corvus Corax. Since 1989 the band have released 25 albums, helped revive the bagpipes in Germany, inspired many other similar bands, and defined a genre of metal-inspired neo-medieval music that is hugely popular across the continent. They performed a live rendition of their song “Ballade De Mercy” in the pilot episode of the HBO TV series Game of Thrones.

What bagpipes do you play?

I play various German medieval bagpipes. The tunings are D, A and E. With my other project, BerlinskiBeat, I use a Scottish bagpipe as well. For studio recordings I use additionally Spanish gaita, Italian zampogna and Bulgarian shepherd pipes.

What led you to take up piping?

A long time ago (1984) a good friend played a German shepherd pipes. I was very impressed with this instrument. I tried to play it and was immediately successful. So, I arranged to buy one and since then I’m playing pipes.

Which pipers do you most admire?

First, my good friend an co-founder of Corvus Corax, Wim Dobbrisch. He’s our bagpipe maker as well. Another piper I really admire is Konan Mevel. I met him during our tour with the Alain Simon Show “Excalibur”. And, of course, my excellent band colleges.

Pink Floyd, original medieval notation and any kind traditional / world music.

What three albums are top of your playlist right now?

Right now I’m only listening to world music channels.

If you had your life again, what instrument would you play?


Name your favourite music festival.

The most impressive festivals where I played are: Roots&Blues festival (Salmon Arms, Canada), Hellfest (France), Castle Fest (Netherlands) and the German festivals Wacken, Summerbreeze and Festival Medieval

What three words describe your piping style?

Loud, fast and Dorian

Bellows or mouth-blown?


Cats or dogs?


Do you prefer playing, dancing or both?

Playing while dancing 

Cane or plastic reeds?


What’s your greatest musical achievement?

Our “Corvus Corax – Cantus Buranus” Show at the Museumsinsel in Berlin 2005. Together with a symphonic orchestra, a huge choir and lots of guest artists, where there were 171 people in total on stage.

What’s your most embarrassing bagpiping moment?

When I fell down from the stage with my pipe and the drone broke some of my ribs. Happened in Berlin around 1998.

What’s the most annoying question you get asked about the bagpipes?

Is that a Scottish bagpipe/didn’t the Scottish invent the bagpipes?

What advice would you give a novice?

First learn to play flutes and then start with a shepherd pipe. Very important: train your physical condition!

I love bagpipes because…

You’ll earn lots of money as a street musician (until the police take notice :-D)

As told to Andy Letcher