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Which Musical Instrument Did The Pied Piper Play To Charm The Rats?

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Oscar De La Huerte Profile
According to the story of the Pied Pieper of Hamelin, the piper simply played a 'magic pipe' - which is also referred to as a 'magic flute' or Zauberflote. What type of instrument did the Pied Piper play? Although the actual story is not specific, the chances are that the Pied Piper was playing a woodwind instrument much like a modern day flute or recorder.

The story of the Pied Piper is based in the early 1200s, and pipe music was very popular during the medieval period.

Musicians of the time would have been known as one of the following:
  • waits
  • minstrels
  • troubadours
and the pipe would be one of their main instruments.


The Pied Piper's Pipe Determining what type of pipe the Piper would have played may be helped by deciding exactly what the Pied Piper was supposed to represent - and there are many theories about this.

One theory is that he represents a heretic cult that led the children of Hamelin away to the hills, where they were all later killed by a landslide.

Another suggestion is that the children were recruited for a military campaign of some sort.

Another idea is that the Piper is meant to represent death itself - and, in fact, this is very likely: Death was often seen wearing 'pied' (a multicolored cloth).

Based on this theory, one possibility is that the Piper was playing an instrument known as the 'bladder pipe'.

This instrument was often associated with death, and was popular in Germany, where it was known as the Platerspiel. The bladder pipe is very similar in design to a bagpipe.

One final possibility is that the Piper played something known as a Cromorne (or Crumhorn), which is a hook-shaped woodwind instrument.

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