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picture of bagpipers

Do you like the sound of bagpipes? To my way of thinking, bagpipes seem to show up at some of the oddest times in some of the oddest places — even here on my blog now! When I think of bagpipes, I think of the British Isles and kilts. But bagpipes, like the Swine Flu, have spread all over the world. If you don't know much about bagpipes, there's a link to a good article on Wikipedia.

picture of bagpipe parts

Since I did not know the parts of a bagpipe mentioned in some of the jokes, such as drones, I searched to find a picture with labeled parts. I found one picture that had detail, down to the tiniest parts (WTMI = way too much information). Instead, I'm posting the nice simplified picture I found. I also did a search for Bill Livingston, mentioned in one of the jokes below, and learned that he is legendary in the world of bagpiping. He's a Canadian world class bagpipe soloist. (Maybe like me, you didn't know there was such a thing....)

While I'm not a huge fan of bagpipes, I don't really hate them either. A number of years ago we had a Pipes and Drums group came to campus for an artist series. There were several medleys in their program, but my knowledge of bagpipe music was so sparse that I could not recognize their having gone from one number to the next. The only number in a medley that was distinct to me was "Scotland the Brave." (You can find it online and listen to it.) I was exultant! I had finally recognized something! 😀

Whether you like or dislike bagpipes, I think you'll find cause for laughter in what follows.


There was a young Scottish boy called Angus who decided to try life in Australia. He found an apartment in a small block and settled in.

After a week or two, his mother called from Aberdeen to see how her son was doing in his new life.

"I'm fine," Angus said. "But there are some really strange people living in these apartments. One woman cried all day long, another lies on her floor moaning, and there is a guy next door to me who bangs his head on the wall all the time."

"Well, ma laddie," says his mother, "I suggest you don't associate with people like that."

"Oh," says Angus, "I don't, Mum, I don't. No, I just stay inside my apartment all day and night, playing my bagpipes."


Two girls are walking along when they hear. "Psst! Down here!" They both look down and see a frog sitting beside the road. The frog says to them, "Hey, if you kiss me I'll turn into a world famous bagpiper and make you both rich and famous!"

The two girls looked at each other, and one of them reached down and grabbed the frog and stuffed it in her pocket. The other girl said, "What did you do that for?"

The first replied, "I'm not stupid. I know a talking frog is worth lots more than a famous bagpiper any day.


Q: How do you keep your violin from getting stolen?
A: Put it in a bagpipe case.

Q: What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A: A bagpiper.

Q: What did the bagpiper get on his I.Q. test?
A: Drool.

Q: How many bagpipers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five — one to handle the bulb and the other four to contemplate how Bill Livingston would have done it.

Q: How many bagpipers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five — one to change the bulb and four to criticize his fingering technique.

Q: If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions, an in-tune bagpipe player, an out-of-tune bagpipe player, or Santa Claus?
A: The out-of-tune bagpipe player. The other two don't really exist.

Q: What's the definition of a gentleman?
A: Someone who knows how to play the bagpipe, and doesn't.

Q: What's the difference between a cat in the road and a bagpipe in the road?
A: Some people would actually swerve to miss the cat.

Q: What's the definition of a quarter tone?
A: A bagpiper tuning his drones.

Q: Why is a bagpipe like a Scud missile?
A: Both are offensive and inaccurate.

Q: How do you know if a bagpipe band is at your front door?
A: No one knows when to come in.

Q: Why did the bagpiper get mad at the drummer?
A: He moved a drone and wouldn't tell him which one.

If you took all the bagpipers in the world and laid them down end to end, ... it would be a good idea.

Q: If you drop a bagpipe and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?
A: Who cares?

Q: How late does the bagpipe band play?"
A: "Oh, about a half beat behind the drummer."

Q: The uilleann pipes are the only instrument declared safe by the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB). Why?
A: They have seat belts and an air bag.

Q: Why do bagpipers leave their cases on their dashboards?
A: So they can park in handicapped zones.

Q: Why do pipe bands march when they play?
A: Moving targets are harder to hit.

Q: What's the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?
A: No one cries when you chop up an bagpipe.

Q: What's the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead bagpiper in the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the snake.

Q: How can you tell if a bagpipe is out of tune?
A: Someone is blowing into it.

A Canadian Officer, pinned down with his unit in 1944 in Italy, urgently signaled his CO, "Need reinforcements to rescue us, please send six tanks or one bagpiper."

Q: How do you get two pipers in tune with each other?
A: Shoot one of them.

Q: What's the difference between a bagpipe and a chainsaw?
A: The chain saw doesn't have vibrato.

Q: What's the difference between a bagpipe and a lawn mower.
A: People get upset when someone borrows their lawn mower and doesn't give it back.

Q: What's the difference between a dead bagpiper in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
A: The country singer may have been on his way to a recording session.

Q: What's the difference between a bagpipe and a trampoline?
A: You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline.

Q: How can you tell a bagpiper with perfect pitch?
A: He can throw a set into the middle of a pond and not hit any of the ducks.

Q: Why are bagpipers fingers like lightning?
A: They rarely strike the same spot twice.

Q: What's the definition of "optimism"?
A: A bagpiper with a beeper.

Q: What's the range of a bagpipe?
A: Twenty yards if you have a good arm.


A man walked into an office building after parking his car. When he got on the elevator, he said, "Oh no! I left my bagpipes in my car! Somebody might have stolen them!"

Back to the car he ran, and, sure enough, when he got there, his back window was smashed out. But when he looked in the back seat, he found four more sets of bagpipes.


Q: What do you call 100 bagpipes at the bottom of the sea?
A: A good start.

Q: Why do pipers walk when they play?
A: They are trying to get away from the sound!

Someone once said, "You don't PLAY bagpipes, you WIELD them."

Q: How can you tell the difference between bagpipe songs?
A: By their names.

Q: Why do most people hate bagpipes right away?
A: It saves time.


I look forward to your comments on bagpipes!


"Bagpipes (noun). I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made object never equalled the purity of sound achieved by the pig." - Alfred Hitchcock

=^..^= =^..^=

Thought: How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?

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26 Comments on “Bagpipes”

  1. #1 Dave
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I’m not a bagpiper, but these are cold. Just downright cold.

    I apologize in advance if you see some semblance of these jokes at The History Bluff in the future.

    .-= Dave’s most recent blog post … Paul Newman Reportedly Looking Good in His The History Bluff T-Shirt =-.

  2. #2 Carrie
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hey!!! I like bagpipes! It’s my dad’s fault, I think. My sister-in-law is of Scottish descent, and she and my brother had a piper at their wedding. You can hardly help liking the bagpipes at the end of Amazing Grace (William Wilberforce).

    .-= Carrie’s most recent blog post … Death is not Dying =-.

  3. #3 Rob
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    @Dave – Did you mean cold or cool?

    @Carrie – You’re right — I can hardly help liking the bagpipes at the end of Amazing Grace! In fact, I’m not sure anything can help me liking them at the end of Amazing Grace. 😮

  4. #4 Dahv
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    While bagpipes are not my favorite, I do appreciate a little of their music every now and then. After reading all of those jokes, I kinda feel sorry for all the poor, smashed-up bagpipers who bear the brunt of many a bagpipe joke. 🙂 At least no one has hit me with any pianist jokes. (I know I’m leaving myself open, but what else do I say after that? 🙂

    .-= Dahv’s most recent blog post … Surgery and aftermath =-.

  5. #5 Rob
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    @Dahv – All joking aside, I also actually appreciate a little of their music every now and then. It’s kind of like salt or pepper, a little is good, but a lot isn’t. I’ve not yet heard your piano music….

  6. #6 Tim
    on Jun 22nd, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I recall many years ago a wise and witty professor of mine, Mr. Mulfinger, saying to his students “There are two kinds of men in the world, there are gentlemen and there are those who play the bagpipes!”

  7. #7 Dan
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 9:22 am

    @Dahv and Rob — You said you actually appreciate a little of their music. You must be confusing them with another instrument that actually makes music. Bagpipes are like vacuum cleaners. After a while, you either get used to the noise or it drives you crazy.

  8. #8 Kathleen
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 9:49 am

    W. S. Gilbert (who wrote the libretto for the Gilbert and Sullivan operas) wrote one of his “Bab Ballads” about a bagpiper. http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/bab_ballads/html/ellen.html
    Word of warning, read that somewhere you can laugh without getting in trouble!

    In Edinburgh along the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, they’ve fairly recently banned the bagpipers from playing at full volume after complaints from the residents. I’m sure there’s a clever comment that could be made about that if someone wants to come up with one.

  9. #9 Vikki
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Back in IL, when my husband worked at Motorola, there was a guy who would wander around the parking lot during lunch playing his bagpipe. My husband got to know him and learned that he belonged to a bagpipe group, but couldn’t practice at home because of his neighbors. There was another guy we would sometimes while driving home from work, walking down the sidewalk and playing – probably for hte exact same reason.

    They really aren’t bad outdoors, but they’re a lot louder than you realize if indoors. I know, because we hired him to play at our daughter’s wedding reception as a surprise for her new husband who’s name was McSparran and loved bagpipes because of his Scottish heritage. He played less than 10 minutes, but that was enough. Man was it loud in there!

  10. #10 Rhonda
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I love bagpipes! But that may result from all the Scottish blood coursing through my veins. I know some disagree, but I enjoy the bagpipes and drums at the opening service of the BJU school year and their accompaniment outside as we walk at commencement. And to be even more controversial, I’ll admit that I think kilts are cool! 🙂 However, I know I’d never get my husband to wear one. 🙂

  11. #11 Megan
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 10:27 am

    My best friend is a world-champion bagpiper who actually makes quite a bit of money playing at funerals and weddings and other events. Although I’m still not the biggest fan of bagpipe music, I will admit that nothing is more moving than hearing bagpipe music at a funeral.

  12. #12 Rob
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    @Tim – He was a wise and witty man indeed!

    @Dan – So, are you saying that you don’t like bagpipes and that they don’t produce music? 😉

    @Kathleen – I’ll have to explore that link. Your second comment seems to go with what Vikki had to say after you.

    @Vikki – I know a retired teacher who even contended that whistling is an outdoor sport. I’d like to know what she would think of bagpipes indoors.

    @Rhonda – I didn’t know about your Scottish heritage. I remember your maiden name is Scott, though. Was it from that side of the family? One thing I learned from my family in France is that there is absolutely no love lost on the Brits. Maybe the French blood coursing through my veins is what makes me a bit resistant to enjoying bagpipes, rather than lack of exposure.

    @Megan – A second world-class piper! It sounds like a neat niche for making some extra money. Somehow bagpipes and funerals go together in my mind…. 🙂

  13. #13 Heather
    on Jun 23rd, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    The Celtic DNA in me is crying out to make *some* justification of the usefulness of bagpipes:

    I once had an acquaintance who would wreak revenge on drivers who sit at intersections with their windows down and whatever kind of rap/metal/fill-in-the-blank rattling everybody else’s windows. He simply turned on his bagpipe music and turned it *all the way up*… After all, *nothing* can drown out the bagpipes…

  14. #14 Rob
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 8:03 am

    @Heather – Thanks for your comment. I’m trying to figure out, though, whether you’re saying that bagpipes are useful as a weapons of revenge or as an annoyance. Could you clarify please? 😉

  15. #15 Karen
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 8:15 am


    Thanks so much for putting on the jokes about bagpipes. Because I’m of Scottish decent, I LOVE the bagpipes. My family is descended from a Highlander Clan that still has a living Chieftain today in Scotland. Bagpipes were originally used for war when Clans fought or for war against the British who’d occupied their country for years. My husband who marched in the Hawkeye Marching Band used to join the 100 other guys in the band who made fun of the Highlander Band that preceded them on the field before football games. He and the other guys would intone the word “rain, rain, rain, rain…” during the bagpipe and sword dance performed. Like anything else, the bagpipes, kilts, drums, all the regalia has history that’s quite interesting. For my husband’s irreverence, I’ve requested that bagpipes be played at my home going! Thanks, Karen

  16. #16 Kathleen
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 8:53 am

    There’s a lot of Gilbert’s humor worth reading on there. His “Bab Ballads” are quite humorous, and he reused some ideas from them for the operas.

    Could we have a post of great Gilbert one-liners sometime?

  17. #17 Shirley
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    As a musician, I am rebuked that I didn’t know bagpipes could be tuned. I thought they were in the same family of spoons, clogs and rubber bands. Still, I do enjoy them on occasion – especially Amazing Grace.

  18. #18 Rob
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    @Shirley – You do have to wonder about the tunability when you hear them, don’t you?

  19. #19 Uwe
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    In German bagpipe is called “Dudelsack”, literally translated something like “tootle pouch”. “Dudeln” is a kind of music with very few tones and without a melody. It makes you crazy indeed. So the German name is original.

  20. #20 Rob
    on Jun 24th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    @Uwe – I like the German name a lot – the sound of the word and the meaning of the word! Danke!

  21. #21 Dan
    on Jun 30th, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Back @ Rob (post #12),

    Well, if I have to take sides, I guess I eventually get used to their noise, and I enjoy vacuuming. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been driven crazy by either one.

  22. #22 Rob
    on Jul 2nd, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    @Dan – Yes, unfortunately, we can get used to almost anything.

  23. #23 Jack
    on Sep 14th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    “As a musician, I am rebuked that I didn’t know bagpipes could be tuned. I thought they were in the same family of spoons, clogs and rubber bands. Still, I do enjoy them on occasion – especially Amazing Grace.”

    You tune the drones by sliding the top piece up or down.

    I love the bagpipes and am currently learning to play them, but I thought that some of those jokes were funny. It seems that people either love em’ or hate em’.

  24. #24 Rob
    on Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    @Jack Thanks for the insights on tuning the drones. Thanks also for recognizing that most people either love them or hate them. I can take them or leave them, but choose mostly to leave them. 😀

  25. #25 A. H.
    on Dec 2nd, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I LOVE the bagpipes! I wish I knew how to play them!

  26. #26 Ray and Jil Dunlap
    on Dec 10th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    HI! We were introduced to your emails by my sister who works at The Press. We just had to sign up. I needed a good laugh this morning and your test answers made me laugh and laugh. It’s a bit cold out here in Illinois and these warmed me up! I am a “quit” not retired math teacher, and they hit the spot! And….I did take French in college one year! Thanks for the humor! Jil