The bagpipe family is an ancient family of instruments. Various forms of bagpipe are known as far back as 3000 years ago and they are found in the traditions of many different races in Europe and Asia. Nowadays it is most often associated with the Scottish Highland Bagpipe or Greatpipe as well as the Irish uilleann pipes and is frequently the object of humour (many find its piercing sound unpleasant, particularly when starting up, and it is best heard outdoors).
A bagpipe consists of an air supply, a bag, a chanter, and usually a drone. Some also have additional drones (and sometimes chanters) in various combinations. Air is commonly supplied to the bag by a blowpipe which is fitted with a non-return valve. Bellows were an innovation added in the 16th or 17th century eliminating the warmth and moisture added to the air by the player's breath and so allowing more delicate reeds to be used. These variations are known as coldpipes.
The pipes are split into chanter and drone pipes. The chanter pipes supply the melody while the drone pipe(s) create a constant accompaniment pitched below the chanter. In single drone pipe instruments the drone is commonly pitched 2 octaves below the tonic of the chanter but there are many variations.