The Bagpipe Society

Guide to Northumbrian Smallpipes

Alongside the Great Highland Bagpipe, NSPs are the other pipes that most people have usually heard about.

Unique amongst British bagpipes in having a chanter that is closed at one end, and related to the French Musette de Cour from which it probably derives, NSPs have a characteristic staccato sound and remain strongly rooted in the music and traditions of the North-East of England.

Played with closed fingering (only one sound hole uncovered at a time), NSPs are bellows blown, have up to four drones worn across the chest, and employ a number of keys to extend the range and to enable accidentals.

They come in a variety of pitches, have a rich and unique repertoire and their singing quality lends them to slow airs as well as crisp hornpipes.