Bagpipe & Bombarde

Pierre Crépillon, Laurent Bigot
Dreuz Kreiz Breiz

À travers la Bretagne interieure


01 Gavotenn giz ar Faoued
02 Ton Bale Konskried Loudia
03 'N droiad dans giz Loudia
04 Bale eured Keraez
05 Kantik Santez Anna
06 'N droiad gavotennou
07 Toniou dans giz ar Menez
08 Ton Bale Julian Kadoudal


Pierre Crépillon: Bombarde
Laurent Bigot: Biniou-Koz
Biniou & Bombarde

The biniou koz ("old bagpipe" in Breton) or biniou bihan ("little bagpipe") is traditionally played in pair with the bombarde (see below). The two players are referred to as sonerion (in Breton) or sonneurs de couple (in French). The biniou (as it is referred to these days) is a mouth-blown bagpipe with one drone. It is high-pitched (an octave above the Scottish Highland bagpipes), with a range of ten notes. Its tuning has varied from one area of Brittany to the next (it can be found in the keys of G#, A, B, or C), and Bretons continue to research the history and diverse use of this instrument. The bombarde has a range of two octaves with its lower range pitched an octave below the biniou. The biniou provides a continuous sound due to the steady supply of air from the bag to both the drone and chanter. The chanter is only 5-1/2 inches long with 7 finger holes; the single drone is approximately 14 inches long.

While the biniou and bombarde pair is found today throughout Brittany and performed by some 400 pairs, it has been traditionally found in the southwestern and south central part of Brittany where its practice remains strong. The style of paired playing found today has been well documented as far back as the turn of the 19th century, although there are references and visual depictions indicating that these two instruments might have been played in pair at least as far back as the 16th century in Brittany. In earlier times a drum was also commonly found to form a trio, although today this is rarely found. In past centuries sonneurs were often professional musicians (at least part-time) who were hired for weddings, fairs and other public events. Except for very rare exceptions, biniou and bombarde pairs have been men.

The bombarde is a member of the oboe or shawm family. Describing it as an oboe, however, can be misleading since it has a very powerful sound, more closely resembling a trumpet. The bombarde is played as oboes are played with the double reed placed between one's lips; the second octave (unison with the range of the biniou) is achieved with lip pressure. In contrast to the continuous sound of the bagpipe, the bombarde is capable of stacatto which makes it particularly effective in pair with the biniou. This is an instrument that has been in constant evolution with many different keys developed as well as milder versions (lombarde, piston) developed for use in ensembles.

Today, both the biniou and bombarde are played in combination with an unlimited number of instruments (saxophone, fiddle, flutes, electric guitar, percussion from all over the world … ) or with voice in fest-noz bands, rock groups and ensembles of all styles - in arrangements of traditional Breton dance tunes and airs or new compositions.



kokolo said...

There is something to clear the ears :)

Miguel said...


Holly said...

Sent here by Lucky...thank you very much for more great Breton music!

Miguel said...

you're welcome Holly :)