When played well, the bagpipes are a powerful and emotive instrument that stands head and shoulders above other instruments when it comes to evoking strong feelings from listeners, as well as adding extra layers to music. When played poorly, the bagpipes are akin to the recorder in the hands of a child in terms of torturous annoyance or otherwise horrendous sounds!
Perhaps the first use of bagpipes in a hard rock/metal song was AC/DC’s 1975 hit “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”, where the bagpipes are just as prominent as any other instrument in the song. At the time this was a unique combination and was likely a big part of why the song was so successful.
42 years on since Bon Scott had the bright idea to use the legendary bagpipes and they are still being used in metal today. This is yet another favorite instrument for folk bands due to its use in traditional folk music and has been used by dozens of bands, including one we have already mentioned, Eluveitie.
However, it’s not only folk metal that utilizes this instrument. Jonathan Davis of popular nu-metal band Korn regularly whips out the bagpipes in their songs and can be seen playing them live in the intro to their song “Shoots and Ladders”.
Other variants of the bagpipes such as the Estonian torupill have also featured in songs by more obscure folk metal bands such as Metsatöll.