The bellows

The drawing entitled "a ball at the Court of Henri II" shows the early musette which was already equipped with a shuttle-drone, though it still has a mouth-blown air supply to the bag. The bellows was added later to this type of bagpipe almost certainly to make the player look more elegant : Pierre Trichet, in his "Traité des Instruments de Musique" (2) presumes that ;

"if Minerva had known of this instrument, she would not have hated flutes"

(flutes = wind instruments in general).

According to Trichet, Minerva in the Roman Myth disdained mouth-blown wind instruments because the faces of the players became screwed up in a grimace as they played!

Other bellows-blown bagpipes

In the early 16th century, a kind of bellows-blown bagpipe called the "Phagotus" (Phagotum) was invented by Afranio degli Albonesi of Pavia. Originally, this instrument did not have any drones and could not stay in tune, but some years later Afranio perfected it with the help of Givanni Battista Ravilio of Ferrara.

Another example of an early bellows-blown bagpipe,is the "Sourdeline" (or "Musette d'Italie") which, in 17th century Europe, had 4 chanters and a very complicated key system. The Sourdeline is described in Mersenne's "Harmonie Universelle" and was said to have been invented by Jean Baptiste Riva in Ferara.

According to the contemporary French musicologist and musette player Jean-Christophe Maillard (4), the inventor of the Sourdeline Jean Baptiste Riva, might be the same person who helped to perfect the Phagotus, Jean-Baptiste Ravilius.
Not only the addition of the bellows but also the addition of the petit-chalumeau to the French musette was possibly influenced by the sourdeline.

There are two portraits of François Langlois, who was a publisher and a well known amateur virtuoso musette player in the 17th century. One portrait was drawn by Vignon and the other by van Dyck. The former shows young Langlois plays the Italian bellows-blown "Sourdeline", and in the latter he plays the musette with it's single chanter, large shuttle drone and bellows.

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Copyright: Naoki Ueo 2000