EXHIBITS > The musical instruments of ancient Greeks >
The ''askaulos'' (bagpipe)
It was a wind instrument (forerunner of the bagpipe) that gave the aulete the possibility to play without breath-pauses. It consisted of one to four pipes (with reeds) fitted onto a bag made from the entire skin of a small animal or the bladder of a larger one. The bag was used as an air reservoir that inflated at the player's will by blowing (through a cane blowpipe which had a non-return leather valve) or with foot-powered bellows. The player kept his bag under his arm pressing it so as to maintain constant air pressure. One (or two) of the pipes played the melody ("chanter") which the player fingered, while the others were drones, producing a continuous note.
SOURCES: "M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music", "Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments", "Julius Pollux, Onomasticon", "Athenaeus of Naucratis, Deipnosophistai", "Aristotle, (Musical) Problems".