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#1
Old 06-30-2012, 09:12 PM
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Why do they play bagpipes at police funerals?

This is in response to Cecil's reference to the movie Braveheart in the column about bagpipes being used at police funerals. I am not an expert in bagpipes, but I know that there are many different kinds, and as a musician and frequent listener of bagpipe music I noticed something strange about the bagpipe and funeral scene in the movie. The pipes being played appeared to be Scottish highland pipes (the most recognizable), yet the sound is definitely that of the Uillean pipes, also called the Irish bagpipes. Again, bagpipes come in many different shapes, sizes, playing styles, and sounds, but this part of the movie bothered me because of the inaccuracy.
#2
Old 06-30-2012, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvanF View Post
The pipes being played appeared to be Scottish highland pipes (the most recognizable), yet the sound is definitely that of the Uillean pipes, also called the Irish bagpipes. Again, bagpipes come in many different shapes, sizes, playing styles, and sounds, but this part of the movie bothered me because of the inaccuracy.
Welcome! Nitpicking bagpipes? You are going to fit right in.

Column in question (it's usually considered polite to include a link to the column): https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...olice-funerals
#3
Old 06-30-2012, 11:11 PM
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Ah, thanks, I shall do so in the future
#4
Old 06-30-2012, 11:56 PM
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I assumed they made the mourners listen to bagpipes to show the departed that there are things far worse than being dead.
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:03 AM
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EvanF--glad you're here!

A bagpipe aficionado will feel right at home among the iconoclasts, nitpickers, wool-gatherers & other human woodpeckers here at the SDMB.
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#6
Old 07-01-2012, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
I assumed they made the mourners listen to bagpipes to show the departed that there are things far worse than being dead.
That must make the departed feel very relieved

!?!?
#7
Old 07-01-2012, 07:03 PM
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Why were so many of the cops Irish?
#8
Old 07-01-2012, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by NetTrekker View Post
Why were so many of the cops Irish?
Immigration demographics.
#9
Old 07-01-2012, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Immigration demographics.
Which included Italians, Germans, Puerto Ricans, Asians, etc.
#10
Old 07-01-2012, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Immigration demographics.
Is that the new name for nepotism?
#11
Old 07-02-2012, 12:18 AM
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A little more seriously, however... I don't know if I can describe this clearly, but here goes:

To me, a bagpipe dirge simply has a good harmony with grieving, and so is appropriate to most all funerals. Many parts of the sound are rough, others discordant - possibly only to my unsophisticated ears - and the whole is awfully complex. And that all fits well with grieving. When the bagpipes are played well, there is, nevertheless, a clear, striking melody - and that fits well with a funeral, as well.

It all works. For me, at least.
#12
Old 07-02-2012, 12:25 AM
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Bagpipes at a Vulcan's funeral is a bit over the top.

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Is that the new name for nepotism?
There's nothing wrong with nepotism as long as it stays in the family.
#13
Old 07-02-2012, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Is that the new name for nepotism?
Discrimination. For a long time, the only employment open to Irish immigrants was the dirty, hazardous jobs no one else wanted. Police work fell into that category; so did the US Army. The cavalry that "won the West" was one-third Irish.
#14
Old 07-02-2012, 06:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvanF View Post
The pipes being played appeared to be Scottish highland pipes (the most recognizable), yet the sound is definitely that of the Uillean pipes, also called the Irish bagpipes.
I suspect that it's because highland pipes look right, but Uilleann pipes just sound better. YMMV, IMHO and all that.

Braveheart wasn't exactly known for its historical accuracy!
#15
Old 07-02-2012, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galwegian View Post
I suspect that it's because highland pipes look right, but Uilleann pipes just sound better. YMMV, IMHO and all that.

Braveheart wasn't exactly known for its historical accuracy!
Exactly right. But a good pick up by the OP.
#16
Old 07-02-2012, 08:10 AM
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And in case you wonder why they use Highland pipes in St Patrick's day parades (and other Irish related things) it's because Uilleann pipes aren't particularly good to march with (according to piping friend when I asked her).
#17
Old 07-02-2012, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenm View Post
Bagpipes at a Vulcan's funeral is a bit over the top.
Perhaps it was the green skin.
#18
Old 07-02-2012, 10:07 AM
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Cecil is out by a century or so in this comment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cecil Adams
A dying art a century ago, bagpipe playing was revived in large part by Irish immigrants to the New World who wanted to preserve their culture.
Bagpipes were indeed in a parlous state two centuries ago, as a result of the Highland clearances during the 18th century and the prohibitions on Highland customs that followed the 1745 uprising. What saved the pipes was that those prohibitions did not apply to the Highland regiments. Piping was allowed and encouraged within the Highland regiments. As a result, piping became heavily linked to military traditions and preserved in that way. By the turn of the 20th century, piping was by no means a dying art, nor was it resuscitated by Irish cops in the US.
#19
Old 07-02-2012, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floater View Post
And in case you wonder why they use Highland pipes in St Patrick's day parades (and other Irish related things) it's because Uilleann pipes aren't particularly good to march with (according to piping friend when I asked her).
Indeed. The Uilleann pipes are designed to be played sitting down, with the bellows that fills the bag strapped to the chest and arm that is used to work it. "Uilleann" means "elbow", referring to this method of inflating the bag.
#20
Old 07-02-2012, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terentii View Post
Discrimination. For a long time, the only employment open to Irish immigrants was the dirty, hazardous jobs no one else wanted. Police work fell into that category; so did the US Army. The cavalry that "won the West" was one-third Irish.
While this is true, it is also true that the Irish in the US in the 1840s50s were the gangbangers of the time (Im not enough of a historian to say just how accurate the film Gangs of New York was, but the gross situation portrayed is close enough). The lower-class Irish of the time who were ashamed of it all found joining the police force the obvious route to fighting their way out of it.
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#21
Old 07-02-2012, 06:49 PM
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Good point about the uillean pipes and the playing method. They are also not as loud as highland pipes, which could have some effect on the context of playing. I have played in bands with highland pipers, they rarely need amplification. Actually, I'm not sure if there is any instrument louder than a highland bagpipes (excluding modern amplification or steam powered instruments).
#22
Old 07-02-2012, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by EvanF View Post
I have played in bands with highland pipers, they rarely need amplification. Actually, I'm not sure if there is any instrument louder than a highland bagpipes (excluding modern amplification or steam powered instruments).
Radio Raheem and calliopes come to mind, but calliopes aren't very portable.
#23
Old 07-02-2012, 07:27 PM
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[QUOTE=Musicat;15231474]Radio Raheem and calliopes come to mind, but calliopes aren't very portable.[/QUOTE

Yes, that's why I excluded steam powered instruments, because of the calliope
#24
Old 07-02-2012, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvanF View Post
Yes, that's why I excluded steam powered instruments, because of the calliope
And Radio Raheem is a "D"-powered instrument.
#25
Old 07-02-2012, 09:55 PM
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Uillean pipes would be perfect for the wake, though - they're mellow enough for songs and indoor events.
#26
Old 07-03-2012, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvanF View Post
Actually, I'm not sure if there is any instrument louder than a highland bagpipe.
Well, I imagine the concert bass drum and the larger tam-tams are probably louder, but only if beaten continuously. Their volume drops off very quickly after they are struck.
#27
Old 07-03-2012, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by al27052 View Post
Well, I imagine the concert bass drum and the larger tam-tams are probably louder, but only if beaten continuously. Their volume drops off very quickly after they are struck.
concert bass drum? pshaw.

according to this site, the drum's average volume is 110 decibels.

according to this site, the pipes can reach 122 decibels.
#28
Old 07-05-2012, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
according to this site, the drum's average volume is 110 decibels.

according to this site, the pipes can reach 122 decibels.
Looks like you're comparing average to extreme. Hardly fair.


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#29
Old 07-05-2012, 01:15 PM
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Yes, but drums are an intermittent sound, while pipes are continuous (literally so, for it is impossible to tongue or otherwise phrase them).
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#30
Old 07-05-2012, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
Yes, but drums are an intermittent sound, while pipes are continuous (literally so, for it is impossible to tongue or otherwise phrase them).
You've got to constantly beat the fuck out of the drum to keep it at a high volume, but yes, it can outpower the pipes.
#31
Old 07-05-2012, 11:57 PM
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Were the last three words of the thread title really required?
#32
Old 07-06-2012, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
Were the last three words of the thread title really required?
As regards one instrument (the bagpipes) I am still in [a primitive] condition. I cant tell one piece from another, nor a good piper from a bad. It is all just pipes, all equally intoxicating, heartrending, orgiastic. C. S. Lewis
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#33
Old 07-09-2012, 12:20 PM
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Why do they play bagpipes at police funerals?

You are supposed to cry at funerals, so they use bagpipes to ensure it.
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