Musette de Cour

Maker: Unknown , France

Date: ca. 1700

Geography: France

Culture: French

Medium: Leather, ivory, silk, wood, silver, iron

Dimensions: Width (Across bag): 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)

Classification: Aerophone-Reed Vibrated-bagpipe

Credit Line: Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.63a–d


The musette is a refined form of bagpipe with a bellows that generates wind to inflate the bag and sound a chanter and a bourdon. The bourdon is a device to play the drones. This musette is one of the luxurious pieces used in French aristocratic circles between 1620 and 1760. The instrument features a double chanter, a novelty that emerged soon after 1670, and a bourdon for three double reeds and four sliders. The sliders allow the play of one, two, or three drones. The double chanter operates with only one double reed.

The instrument is unsigned, but its decoration of ebony studs in the ivory is also seen in instruments by Dupuis, who worked in Paris around 1690. The instrument retains all its original parts. The silk bag is almost entirely bleached out, but still shows some pink and yellow threads.