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June 1988

A Piper's Warning

Author Affiliations

Rutland, Vt

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1988;114(6):682. doi:10.1001/archotol.1988.01860180096051

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To the Editor.—For centuries, the skirl of the highland bagpipe has resounded over the mountains and valleys of Scotland. It is no accident that, historically, the pipes have served to rouse the fighting forces for battle. Their considerable volume makes them the quintessential outdoor instrument. Despite this fact and that there are more and more indoor performances on the pipes, the potential for acoustic trauma and permanent ear damage is often ignored.

To better assess the potential for this sort of injury, we performed the following experiment. Sound pressure levels were recorded with a Brüel and Kjaer type I sound level meter during a solo performance on the highland bagpipes. Measurements were first made indoors in an "acoustically hard" room (20 × 25 ft), with a background noise level of 32 dB. Measurements were taken at the piper's left ear (nearest the drones), at 5 ft, and at 10

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