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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 11-19-2017, 05:56 PM   #1
Clodhopper
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Default What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

I placed an order for a set of bellows blown SSP the other day, and it looks like they will not go out until April.

When I was in high school 30 odd years ago I played highland pipes and played in a pipe band. After high school I got away from piping and haven't really played since, though I do still have my pipes and practice chanter. Anyway, I've gotten interested in piping again , especially in learning to play SSP. I have my old practice chanter and having been playing some tunes that I remember from my earlier piping days, and am pretty surprised at how much of it is coming back after such a long time. So I'm looking for suggestions for books I ought to have, etc, to make good use of the time I have before the new pipes get here.

Also, do most of you learn tunes from written music, or by ear? I play fiddle and banjo and learn tunes by ear, but when I was playing pipes I learned those tunes from notation.

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 11-19-2017, 08:34 PM   #2
Kevin
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Hi Pete,

Welcome to the SSP world, I am sure you are going to love it. Since you already have a PC, you might want to take a look at some of the music offerings here:

http://birchenmusic.com/ or here:
https://lbps.net/j3site/index.php/shop

You might also want to look through your fiddle music books for tunes in D, B-m or A-mix that might fit the range of Scottish pipes.

If it's not too late to add to your order, you might consider asking for a right hand thumb hole on the back of your chanter to play C-nat. This will give you access to several other keys/modes. Also, if you plan to play with other instruments, you might consider asking for your Gs to be tuned to 3.9 cents flat of equal temperament. The typical Scottish pipe tuning is 32 cents flat, which sounds rough with other (ET) instruments. If you don't like the C-nat you can cover the hole with tape. If you don't like the -3.9 cents Gs, you can tape them down to -32 cents.

Just some food for thought. Good luck and patience during your wait.
Kevin.
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:53 AM   #3
Bill Worsfold
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Hi Pete,

Re reading versus ear playing? Do both!

A couple of questions - you say you play fiddle and banjo - is that bluegrass or old timey? Scruggs or clawhammer? Whatever music you already play, try it on your practise chanter. See how many tunes fall under your fingers. A heck of a lot of the Appalachian tunes have Scots/Irish ancestors so a lot should fit nicely. There's your starting repertoire.

Secondly, what key pipes are you getting? A, D or maybe both, or something else?

What keys are going to be most useful to fit in with any other musicians you play with? If you do a lot of minor keys, then the right thumb hole that Kevin mentioned would be useful, as would the ability to tune your drones to to five finger note (B on an A chanter, E on a D chanter.)
When I had my set made, because I was interested in song tunes rather than just GHB repertoire, I got an upward extension key and a sharp 7th key, both of which I use a lot.

Go through your songbooks and make lists of anything that will fit on your PC - anything! You can always edit out later.
Have fun, and don't worry too much about rules.

Cheers,
Bill
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:45 AM   #4
johnsog
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Welcome to the smallpipes!! It is hard to wait but will be well worth it. I don't have any extra holes on mine nor do I have an extension key but I don't need them for the playing I do. I play with a group that plays old-timey Appalachian as well as Celtic; what a perfect world!! I play my SSPs when appropriate and something else when the tune doesn't fit the pipes or the sound just isn't what I want.
There is some great printed music out there for smallpipes, much of it listed on those two websites you were given. I learn most of my material by ear, though, since I often hear a tune I want to learn but can't find music for it. Plus I often am not completely satisfied with just how a piece is transcribed. Learning by notes gives one the basic melody; learning by ear lets you make it your own, freeing you from limitations.
Whatever you do while waiting, enjoy the happy anticipation and good luck on your new adventure!!
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Old 11-20-2017, 11:27 AM   #5
Doug Walton
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

There are one or two buy/sell bagpipes groups on facebook where I see sets of SSPs fairly regularly. You could grab a set there, and then resell them later.
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Old 11-20-2017, 11:48 AM   #6
Pppiper
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

I definitely learn tunes both by ear and music.

I stole this list from a contribution I'd made to a former thread, where someone was looking into suggestions on tune books/sources. Much of it applies to you, so I hope this helps. I've tailored it a bit.

Also, I've tried to bold some which may be of particular interest.

----

Firstly, there's what's available on ceolsean.net. Overall, it's an online collection of books that are older than the copyright threshold.

Another particular to mention, Hamish Moore's Rumblin' Brig. It's not really available for sale anywhere, and long out of print. But you might try emailing him directly and asking if he still has any left. My copy went missing years ago, and he graciously sold/sent me a copy. He may have a few more handy. He can be reached at hamish@hamishmoore.org.

Hamish's tunes in the book are either old, or written with a nice, old flavor. Some of the best session and jam tunes.

One more particular before I give you an off-the-cuff list ... Allan MacDonald's Moidart Collection, books 1 and 2. These books are the greatest, and he also provides a CD with almost all of them, so you can learn both by ear and the sheets. AWESOME across the board.

And there's the Lowland/Border pipe side of things. Along with the Lowland Society books, (https://lbps.net/j3site/index.php/shop) ... Check out the books available on Julian Goodacre's site ... lots and lots of really great, and really old tunes:
http://www.goodbagpipes.com/index.php/music-shop

Here are a few others which may or may not float your boat .. mostly listed by author:
  • Cairngorm Book 3 ... Full of classic Strathspeys and Reels.
  • Barrie, William/James - Lifetime of Compositions ... nice collection of lots of good tunes from a few generations of Barrie
  • Cairns, Archie - books 1 and 2 ... Great collections of tunes.
  • Edcath 1-3 ... There are three in overall, with 2 and 3 being newer than the copyright threshold, so they aren't on ceolsean. 2 is my personal favorite, though all three are great books .. if you can find them. I do see them on Ebay from time to time. Book 3 I got from a fellow forum member here .. and I'm extremely grateful.
  • Gandy, Bruce - books 1-4 ... there's a mix in his books, but even a lot of the newer tunes are some of my favorite reels and jigs
  • Grey, Michael - books 1-5 ... Similar to Bruce Grady. I often think of them together as the "Two G's." Mr. Grey has a sixth book, but it's a book of suites, which is definitely more of a modern thing.
  • Gunn, William Collection ... there are reprints of this old collection available, lots of good stuff
  • Johnstone, Duncan - Vol 1-3, and/or "Complete Compositions" ... One of my favorite composers/compilers, and his Vol. collections can be hard to find, but worth searching out, as he also includes great tunes from others, in addition to his compositions. Vol. 3 is the easiest to find, try ebay. The other two ... alot tougher, sadly.
  • Kenneth, Archie - I think there are 5 in total, small books. A couple are focused on Piob., so I'd check out the light music books
  • Livingstone, William - Books 1 and 2 - 1 has FINALLY been re-released, one of the best tune books ever, in my personal opinion. Book 2 is great too. Highly recommended.
  • Macaulay, Scott - Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music ... Another great Canadian writer, now tragically past. Excellent stuff.
  • PM MacDonald, Angus - Books 1 and 2 - Hard to find, but GREAT books.
  • MacDonald, R.S. & William - Clanranald Collection ... Some tunes are more contemporary, but this collection is definitely a favorite
  • Mackenzie, Music from Cape Breton and Away
  • Maclellan, Captain John A.: Ceol Beag Agus Ceol Mor
  • Maclellan, Captain John A.: Music for the Highland Bagpipe 2nd Edition
  • Mathieson, Robert - books 1-4 ... some tunes more contemporary, but even the newer tunes are now considered classics by many
  • Minard Castle
  • Molard, Patrick - To the Bobs ... Great book of Breton tunes, hard to find, but worth searching
  • Shears, Barry - Cape Breton Collection, and Gathering of the Clans 1 & 2 ... tremendous collections of Scottish and Cape Breton tunes. Many are quite old/trad., and these make for great session/dance tunes.
  • Spaulding Collection - Nice variety of tunes, new and old.
  • Tully, Terry - books 1-5 - Irish tunes for the pipes galore. Many favorites, new and old in these books.
  • Worrall, Robert - books 1-3 - Great collections of tunes, similar to the books of Gandy, Grey and Livingstone.

There are lots and lots of others, and this is certainly not a complete list. Also, don't overlook the "mainstays" such as:
  • Scots Guards 1-3
  • Ross books 1-5
  • MacLeod books 1-6
  • Gordon Highlanders 1-2 (if you can find Vol. 2, it's tough)
  • Seaforth Highlanders
  • Royal Scots
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Old 11-21-2017, 05:12 AM   #7
CalumII
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

A good option for smallpipers might be Taigh na Teud's Highland Tunes for Fiddle series, which consists in large part of piping repertoire sans gracenotes. They also come chorded, which may be helpful if you have a tamed accompanist.
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Old 11-22-2017, 04:03 PM   #8
Clodhopper
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Thanks to all of you for all the information, it's going to take a while for me to digest all of it. Sounds like there is a lot more details than I figured on to start with. I was wondering why it looked like a lot of chanters in youtube videos seemed to have tape on them, and I'm just beginning to figure out what I think that is all about. My understanding of music theory is definitely a little basic.

The set I ordered is in A (one of the Fred Morrison McCallum ones)

I am playing mostly Old Time on fiddle and banjo (clawhammer style) and do play a lot of tunes in A, so I am looking forward to trying the pipes out in OT sessions. I also play lots of D tunes, but I've got pretty meaty farmer fingers and it sounded like finger space was at a premium on a D chanter, so I opted not to go with a combination set.
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Old 11-22-2017, 05:31 PM   #9
daj
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
I am playing mostly Old Time on fiddle and banjo (clawhammer style) and do play a lot of tunes in A, so I am looking forward to trying the pipes out in OT sessions. I also play lots of D tunes, but I've got pretty meaty farmer fingers and it sounded like finger space was at a premium on a D chanter, so I opted not to go with a combination set.
D chanters aren't that small, worth getting one , it's a very useful thing to have..may take a bit of practice but you'll have a way more versatile instrument.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:03 PM   #10
Bill Worsfold
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Default Re: What should I be doing while I wait for Scotish Smallpipes for 5 months?

Hi Pete,

You asked for suggested books and boy, did you get some! Pppipers list (which I've copied for myself) does presume a big interest in GHB music and a willingness to spend about as much money as your pipes cost.

I do strongly second his recommendation of ceolsean.net though. It's a wonderful, free online resource where you can dip your toes in the GHB repertoire to find out if you like it. They're not the latest tunes but you don't sound like a jaded old piper looking for something new - it's all something new!

If you're interested in Irish music, go to the ceolsean library and you'll find several volumes of Irish tunes that will fit the pipe scale - you can replace the GHB grace notes with cuts, taps and rolls if you want.

And see how many of the tunes you know will fit on your chanter.

Does your set have the option for adding a D chanter later on? If so, then there's no rush, is there?

Have a look at the Brighde Chaimbeul video in another thread - she's using bits of tape to change the scale to suit minor key tunes. But you can only flatten notes this way - so it's not going to help if you want a G# or if you want C# and C natural (say) in the same tune.

Don't forget that your A chanter does play in D (in fact it is a D major scale) - it's just that the tonic note is in the centre of the pipe so it depends on the range of the tune - it only goes up as far as A.

Here's something to keep you going

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbtaVgfnTkY

Cheers,
Bill
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