Tag Archives: bagpipes

Music notation programs

I play several instruments, and know a lot of tunes by heart. But for some instruments i’d like to have a music sheet in front of me.
When playing new tunes or from my old stash, i need it on paper also.
And when i do, I’d like my music nicely printed and in the same style.

So i’ve been using multiple programs and tools to get a result i can live with.
I’ve got a huge collection of pipe and folk tunes, but whenever i decide that i’m going to play it more often then i’m going to re-create the music sheet.
The musicsheet will be printed and put in a folder. But also as PDF wil be placed in my calibre server, with i use to provide my tablets and phones with a digital version.
For automatically generating a PDF musicbook i’ve written some scripts.
These PDF’s i can use with my DIY bluetooth page turner.

For my bagpipe tunes i started a long time ago with a dos version of Bagpipe Music Writer. Getting a decent result from your printer was a b*tch. But it was do-able.

Several other programs i’ve tried but few stuck.
CelticPipes, Ceol Mor, Bagpipe (French), MusicTex, Lilypond for example.
I don’t like to click a symbol and place it on the bars, i like typing .. so i’m a little biased.
For midi and printing multi bar/staff music i also used Cakewalk Pro.

So i’ve been using the following software:

ABC Music notation :

X: 1
T:After the Battle of Aughrim
R:Polka
M:2/4
K:ADor
E2A2 ABcd | e2d2 c3A | B2G2 GFGA | B2AG E2D2 |
E2A2 ABcd | e2d2 e2ag | e2d2 BedB | A4 A4 :|
|:\
a2e2 e2fg | abag e2fg | abaf g3e | dedB G4 |
a2e2 e2fg | abag e2d2 | B2e2 d2B2 | A4 A4 :|
  • I use this mainly for Whistle and skeletal melody lines for Uilleann pipes (no ornaments)
  • Bagpipe IS possible but hard and ugly.
  • Multiple voices (harmony) is possible.
  • Chord names can be places above bars, as well as vocals.
  • I’ve made scripts with headers and footers to get the same output result.
  • Creating the music is typing the notes and ornaments in a text file.
  • Little chords for guitar mandoline are also possible.
# Edit/createing a abc music file
vi musicpiece.abc ; edit with plain editor
abcm2ps musicpiece.abc ; convert to ps
ps2pdf14 Out.ps musicpiece.pdf ; ps convert to pdf
Also EasyABC i use occasionally

Bagpipe music:

I still use Bagpipe Music Writer, but the free Player, which is a full version also. (Long story)
Using wine on linux it is usable.



In the past i made a virtual machine which could be controlled by a web form and some CGI scripts.
I could paste a “bmw” score in a webform which would be send to the virtual machine, a BMW program would be started, printed the tune as a PDF that was send to the website again.


For a long time i also had a abc music to PDF convertor on my website.

I like the way of writing the tunes .. just type abbreviations of ornaments to print.
When you know these you are faster than using a mouse!

& sharpf sharpc
I!	hdbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16			gg Fr_16 El_16 Dl_8
!	dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbhg HG_4					tg Fr_16 HAl_8 'ha
!	hdbe Er_8 'e LAl_16		gbr LA_4					dbe Er_8 'e LAl_16			gg Fr_16 El_16 Dl_8
!	dbb Br_8 'b LAl_16	gg LGr_8 'lg dg Bl_16					dbhg HG_4					tg Fr_16 HAl_8 'ha			!t

There is no way to write harmonies.
In the past i’ve been using a pdf editor to merge music bars and align those by hand.
I’ve stopped doing that. I just print 2 versions.
Sometimes i use MuseScore for harmonies and multiinstrumental sheets

I wil post my MusicBook compiler here, when i’ve cleaned up the code.

Bought some tunebooks in Scotland

While visiting the Ardbeg dristiller on Isle of Islay, i notished a tunebook with CD in the whiskyshop. Tunes for multiple instruments and pipe settings .. interesting! Fraser Shaw, didn’t know who he was. The tunes in the book looked interesting. I bought both .. we will see.

While reading more about him, i learned he was a driving force on the islands when it comes to folk music. Sadly he died by a illness .. far to soon. While on holiday we drove by some places he was know to play.
Tunes for whistle with guitar chords and pipe settings. Some tunes are in a complex time measure. I lost the CD but it is on spotify .. favourites: £50 Cashback and Air Chall

While visiting the Kildonan Museum in South Uist, i found a tunebook which was compiled of tunes from a piper named: Calum Campbell.

This oldskool piper wrote some amazing tunes. The book was made after he, his daughter and her two children lost their lives in a heavy storm in 2005.
2005 Was a bad year .. we lost John D Burgess, Martyn Bennett and Gordon Duncan the same year.

On our way home we visited the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.

Most of the pipes here where Northumbrian bagpipes and some borderpipes ( even a shuttlepipe )

Our Northumbrian pipes

In the touristy shop i found these books, amoung others.

Last two are Duets/Trios also for different instruments .. nice!

3D printed double chanter proof of concept

We both got a smallpipe, so there are 2 chanters in the house.

I designed a 3D adaptor for two chanters, and 3D printed this.

Taping the bottom part of one of the chanters and a part of the other, gave me the possibillity to play harmony’s.

There are only a few tunes which are suitable for playing like this.

First recording after connecting the chanters and doing a 30sec tuning.

Blender model

Folk band instruments 2021

Today newest addition Concertina

Joe Mooney Summer School

While on holiday in Ireland, Coline, Monique and i went to the Joe Mooney Summer School of Traditional Irish Music, Song & Dance.

Every July Drumshanbo plays host to the award winning Joe Mooney Summer School, a week long festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance named after the man who did so much to promote the cause of Leitrim and his beloved town. The committee continue to emulate his high ideals, endeavouring to promote Leitrim’s heritage of traditional music while handing on the best traditions of the past to future generations.

While being in Ireland from 9-27 Juli, we drove around and visited many places.

One week was reserved for attending the Summer School in Drumshanbo, Leitrim.

Coline followed the Flute Course, Monique Bodhran and I Uilleann Pipes.

I was being taught by Brain McNamara.

Internationally respected as a performer and tutor, Brian McNamara hails from a musically rich rural region (County Leitrim) of Ireland which has produced notable musicians past and present and which has been prominently associated with the preservation and performance of Irish Traditional Music.

During daytime there were lessons, and concerts in the evening.
We learned a lot!

Some evening practising by the lake

Tunes i’ve learned from Brian are:

  • Gander at the Pratie Hole
  • Honeymoon
  • Kitty goes a milking
  • O’Sullivans March

Beautiful interpretation of the tune “Battle of Cnoc na ndos”

Death of a space piper

Audio CD Cover

I love the music of the Canadian Band “Rare Air”.

I’ve got 3 Rare Air cd’s

  • Hard to beat
  • Primeval
  • Space piper

Their sound was a fusion of Celtic, rock and a Caribbean beat, and their last cd (1991) was jazz-oriented.

Snake MacMurray, new swing reel, Chicago Shopping Mall .. but Death of a spacepiper blew me away.
I’ve heard some accidentals in piping, like playing natural notes and vibrato’s .. but nothing like this.

So i wanted to play this wonderful piece!
I sat down with a friend of mine, Thomas, and wrote the thing down.
(I will post these when i find them again)

So here is a clip of me playing the piece. (until the part i played for the dancers of our pipe band to come marching in.)

Most of the audience had no clue pipes could be played like this, and there is an audible reaction in the movie clip.
(There were some guests from other pipe bands in the audience, they came after the show to get more information about this tune.)

Another set of reeds for our band

I ordered reeds again for our pipe-band.

A nice set of reeds from P/M Linden “Dixie” Ingram.
From which we got lessons at the Breuberg Summerschool.

Now i have to sort them by strenght and tuning. I have to take into account: peoples strenght to blow them, which ones needs scraping, hard blowers who get them into shape at the end.

Above is easy, middle and hard to blow .. increasing in strenght from left to right.

Next to do, is give them a number, and assign them to players.

While doing so i started playing with them to make a little website visitor counter 🙂

Coline’s Persuasion

A trip to Scotland with our band. I wanted to remember the whole night drinking, staying outside on deck .. and getting lost.

So i composed a little tune we could play with the band.

The arches need to be played with slides .. like slipping of the deck. Same in bars 1,3,5 and 7 and second part

Coline persuaded several people to stay up all night. We drank a lot, and in the morning we tried to get down to our cabin’s.
But having to much to drink, apparently we took a wrong turn. We where in the living quarters of the cabin crew! A wrong elevator later .. the kitchen .. how did this happen. Friendly members of the crew showed us the way out.

Pipeband comeback LUV

With the pipeband i was at that time, we where asked to perform with Luv. Exciting day. Shame we had to mimic playing the melody.
Parts where recorded a few hours before the show.

I was one of the few who could actually play the melody.