Type: Aerophones > Reeds > Bagpipes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Region: Baltic States & North Eastern Europe.
Description: The torrupill is a bagpipe played in Estonia. This instrument was known throughout Estonia. There is no uniform consensus of when the torrupill arrived. In a social setting the bagpipe was used for playing dance music; other instruments only served this role in the absence of the bagpipe. Some old ceremonial dances, such as the Round Dance [Voortants] and the Tail Dance [Sabatants] were performed together with a bagpiper who walked at the head of the column.
Repertoire: Ceremonial music was a large genre of the bagpipers’ repertoire during the 17th century, as seen from the literary sources of that time. The bagpiper was essential during weddings, where he took part in certain ceremonies. The actual melodies were tunes, marches or riding melodies that were performed during the wedding procession, etc. The bagpiper was an indispensable participant in dances and social gatherings. He accompanied minstrels during Martinmas and Christmas. No pub could manage without a good musician.
One of the most popular players in history has been considered Juhan Maaker [1845–1930] at the time called the king of bagpipe players in Estonia. Another notable players include Juhan Maaker’s nephew Aleksander Maaker [1890–1968]. After his death there was only one surviving bagpipe player alive in Estonia: Olev Roomet who became the revivalist of bagpipe in the country by training 25 new players in the 1970s. In modern times bagpipe playing is a part of the curriculum at University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy – Traditional Music faculty and in a number of regular music schools around the country.
Construction: The bag [in Estonian: tuulekott, magu, lõõts, kott, etc] is made of the stomach of a grey seal in the western and northern parts of Estonia and on the islands. Most valued were the stomachs of large old seals. The bag that was made of a seal’s stomach, was not spoilt either by aridity or by humidity. A bagpiper of the Hiiu island is known to have said that if his bagpipe [made of a seal’s stomach] became wet, it sounded richer because the seal is a sea animal.
The bags were also made of the stomach of an ox, cow, elk or dog, but sometimes they were sewn of the skin of a dog, cat, goat or seal [with the fur outward] or even of the skin of a Lynx. In bag-making certain superstitions were observed. In South Estonia for example, some thought that the more a dog howled when being hanged, the better the sound of the bagpipe later.
The blow pipe [in Estonian: “puhumispulk”, “naput”, “naba”, “puhknapp”, “napp”] was made of wood. The chanter [in Estonian: “sõrmiline”, “putk”, “esimik”] was made of juniper, pine, ash or more seldom, of a tube of cane. It had 5 to 6 holes.
The chanter has a single-reed, generally with a parallel rather than conical bore. The bottom end of the chanter sometimes had one to two holes in the side bored obliquely into the pipe, so that some straws or twigs could be put in to control the pitch. The chanter is tuned to D / E / F# / G / A / B / C / D / E from D to E The chanter was placed in an oval wooden stock [in Estonian: “kibu”, “kloba”, “torupakk”, “käsilise pakk”]. The stock-end of the chanter contained a reed [in Estonian: “piuk”, “keel”, “roog”, “raag”, “vile”].
The chanter was placed in an oval wooden stock [in Estonian: “kibu”, “kloba”, “torupakk”, “käsilise pakk”]. The stock-end of the chanter contained a reed [in Estonian: “piuk”, “keel”, “roog”, “raag”, “vile”].
Citations: Bibliography: Cätlin Jaago February 2005 “bagpipe “One goose makes two sounds ~ Estonian Institute Tõnurist, Igor 1976. “The Estonian Bagpipe” ; Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments bulletin F. Knuf. p. 53. October 2013. Conservatoire royal de musique de Bruxelles – Musée instrumental ; Websites: Torupill Article by Andrus Tual Estonian Bagpipe maker [in English] archived on ‘wayback machine’ ;