McBlare: A Robotic Bagpipe Player

McBlare image

McBlare, showing chanter with electromagnetic fingers (upper left), and two-cylinder air pump (below).

McBlare in preparation for a visit to Piping Live, the International Piping Festival, Glasgow

"McBlare" is a robotic bagpipe player. It plays an ordinary set of bagpipes using an air compressor to provide air and electro-magnetic devices to power the "fingers" that open and close tone holes that determine the musical pitch. McBlare is controlled by a computer that has many traditional bagpipe tunes in its memory. McBlare can also add authentic sounding ornaments to simple melodies entered through a piano-like keyboard and play the result on the bagpipes.

McBlare was constructed by the Robotics Institute for its 25th Anniversary in 2004. The team that built McBlare includes Ben Brown, Garth Zeglin, and Roger Dannenberg.


McBlare plays Highland Laddie (mp3)

Roger Dannenberg and McBlare (mp3) on BBC Scotland's MacAulay & Co.

McBlare (mp3) on CBC's As It Happens with Mary Lou Finlay. (Some listener's responded (mp3).)


McBlare in Edinburgh

McBlare video by James Pustejovsky

More Information:

Roger B. Dannenberg, Ben Brown, Garth Zeglin, and Ron Lupish. "McBlare, A Robotic Bagpipe Player" in Proceedings of the 2005 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME05), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2005.. pp 80-84.

In the news:

Daily Mail, Scottish Edition, August 11, 2006

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 4, 2006, August 1, 2006, June 26, 2006

bagpipe cartoon