Renaissance Hümmelchen reproduction
En: Smallpipes, Northumbrian pipes, Northumbrian
smallpipes, De: Dudey, Hümmelchen
The development of the bagpipe can be traced through the ancient
civilizations of Persia, Greece and Rome to Europe where it has been in
common use since the ninth century.
By the start of the Renaissance bagpipes typically had two drones to
accompany the chanter producing a loud, vibrant sound suitable for dances,
marches and other outdoor occasions. Three drones became more commonplace
towards the end of the period.
Bagpipes can easily be played by themselves, but a popular combination in
the later Middle Ages seems to have been bagpipe and
Perhaps as a reaction to these loud bagpipes the Renaissance saw the
emergence of quiet 'indoor' pipes such as the Hümmelchen (a type of
German smallpipes, attested in Syntagma Musicum by Michael Praetorius)
that produced a muted tone entirely suitable for both indoor use and
performance with other instruments. They can be easily blown and sound
comfortably mild. The fingering is almost like a soprano recorder.
Hümmelchen is one of the most loved bagpipes in German speaking countries
and are available in a wide range of tunes from medieval to modern. Early
versions are believed to have double-reeded chanters, most likely with
single-reeded drones. The word "hümmelchen" probably comes from the Low
German word hämeln meaning "trim". This may refer to the hümmelchen's small
size, resembling a trimmed-down version of a larger bagpipe. Another
possibly etymology comes from the word hummel ("bumble-bee"), referring to
the buzzing sound of the drone.