This bagpipe enjoyed its greatest popularity in the period 1650-1750, during and shortly after the reign of Louis XIV. For the only time in history, the bagpipe became an instrument of high culture, with composers vying to produce works for it and performances being given in the noble courts of the king. Like the Northumbrian Smallpipe, it is a bellows-driven instrument with a stopped chanter and four drones. There is an additional chanter parallel to the first which is keyed and is silent until a key is pressed. Between the two chanters, the Musette has the biggest range of any bagpipe.
Another unusual feature is the four drones, which are combined together into a single cylindrical box. This has sliding panels on the side, which can be opened or closed to select a combination of different notes from the drone assembly.
The musette became suddenly very unpopular during the French Revolution, as it was associated with the aristocracy. It is now enjoying a revival.Continued page 12/17