Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I’ve just purchased a book of Gordon Duncan tunes but the music is written with pipers in mind.

Obviously there are lots of grace notes for the bagpipes over and above the basic tune and I’ll add these in where and when I think they might suit the fiddle.

Apart from that, can any pipers offer any further advice about interpretating bagpipe music for other instruments?

Generally, it seems fairly straightforward to transpose and I am also conscious of the fact that there’s no G# in the bagpipe scale. However, any more info would be welcome.

I know I’ll get comments along the lines of "Listen to the tunes" and "Learn them by ear" which I will also do, of course. πŸ™‚

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Pretty straight forward. Read it as if it has two sharps. Where there is a flat (like c flat) play it as a natural). Where there are larger doublings (crans) play a triplet.
Highland Pipe music is written with no key signature because it has a fixed nine note scale.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

A triplet of roll that is.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I play Highland pipes and uilleann pipes and I have the Gordon Duncan book.

I think Jon Jay has it right in the main.

There are some GHB (Great Highland Bagpipe) movements which are written as a blob of gracenotes but actually have the feel of melody notes, or have one or more melody notes implied in them. The best guide is to listen to a good GHB player play the tunes while you’re looking at the music. You’ll soon discover how to interpret the various ornaments on your particular instrument.

One GHB movement, called the "birl" , is only played on "low A" and just sounds like a triplet on A. It sometimes is written GAG, sometimes AGAG, sometimes gAGAG, but in all cases it sounds like a triplet AAA.

Another common GHB movement appears on Pg 46 in the tune Tain in the Rain.

The blob of gracenotes preceding "e" in bars 7 and 8 is called by GHB players a "pele" and just sounds like a triplet eee.

In bar 11 there’s a pele on "d". Once again just play a triplet ddd.

You’ll see these peles all through more modern GHB music. Peles are usually only found on B, c#, and d. The e pele Gordon uses is not common.

Bogman: obviously you are not a GHB player, as there are no such things as "larger doublings" or "crans" on the GHB.

But you are correct about the key signature: much (but not all) GHB music is written wtih the C# and F# assumed. Therefore, C naturals and F naturals must be written as C flats and F flats.

The modern trend is to write the correct C# F# key signature and to use natural signs for these notes.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Just adding to the above…those grace notes are not random. Specific patterns of grace notes have evolved. Pipers call them each note of the scale has its own doubling.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

sorry…poor editing…pipers call them "doublings", and each note of the scale has its own doubling.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

"Bogman: obviously you are not a GHB player, as there are no such things as "larger doublings" or "crans" on the GHB."

Larger doubling - torluaths and grips as opposed to double e’s or f’s etc if you want to be pedantic. Crans (in brackets) so that irish folk can understand what I mean by doublings.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

lol Richard D Cook - anybody ever heard of a band called the Peatbog Faeries? I think they may have a piper in their midst - wonder who it is…

Posted by .

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Ohh Peatbog Faeries at Broadstairs soon….on my agenda

Posted by .

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

"Bogman: obviously you are not a GHB player, as there are no such things as "larger doublings" or "crans" on the GHB. "

Um, Bogman does play the Highland pipes.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Not having the book in question - what exactly is a "pele"? How is it written out?

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I’m thinking a Brazilian football player but that is probably not the answer you’re looking for. ;)

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I’ve never heard the term pele? can anyone show us the notation for one?

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Richard,
are you talking about a D throw?

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

what gets up my nose is people using the word "bagpipes" in such a sloppy manner as to imply that the Scottish Highland Bagpipes is the only instrument of its kind and it was invented by Scots.

I can forgive it in people who don’t know any better, but Highland pipers have no excuses. Call the damned things what they are - Scottish Highland Pipes. Not BAGPIPES.

Bagpipes are an entire family of ancient, beautiful, and dignfied instruments from all over Europe, Asia, and North Africa. I wouldn’t call Uilleann pipes "Bagpipes", even though they are a KIND of bagpipes. I wouldn’t call the Cornemuse Bourbonnaise "Bagpipes", even though they are a KIND of Bagpipes. I wouldn’t call the Romanina Diple "Bagpipes" even though it is a KIND of bagpipes. Get it?

If you persist in referring to the Scottish Highland Pipes as "Bagpipes" you perpetuate the mistaken notion that there is only ONE kind of bagpipes, and that the Scots invented it.

I know what I’m saying is old hat to veteran Scottish pipers, please accept my apologies, I know you have your hearts in the right place, I’m aiming these barbs at Americans who can’t be bothered to learn anything about other cultures beyond a shallow, superficial level.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I stand by my assertion that there is no such thing as "larger doublings" on the GHB.

I’ve been playing the GHB for over 30 years, have attended piping school, taught the pipes, played solo and in pipe bands etc etc blah blah blah and no such term is used by GHB players, and has no meaning.

Taorluaths are taorluaths. They are not "larger" doublings, and are not related to doublings.

I guess it could be called pedantic to call things by their names… but nobody would call your arm a "larger nose". It’s an arm, there’s a name for it, and using the name for something else doesn’t make any sense.

But back to the topic, the clue how to play birls and peles on other instruments is in the way the ornament is written: In that big blob of gracenotes you’ll notice that there are two of the notes that the ornament precedes. So, in a birl there are two Low A’s which precede the melody note A, so the actual sound of the birl is a quick triplet AAA, the first two A’s much shorter than the third.

Likewise in Tain in the Rain the pele on D contains two D’s and a triplet ddd will give a sound fairly close to the GHB pele.

And about terminology, I’ve been careful to refer to the GHB as the GHB and the uilleann pipes as such. It irritates me when I’m out somewhere playing the uilleann pipes and somebody asks "hey are those like bagpipes?" and I have to tell them "They’re no just LIKE bagpipes, they ARE bagpipes."

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Thanks for all the responses so far.

Seosamh,

I did refer to the term "Bagpipes" here but I can assure you that I’m not an Amercan but very Scottish. It’s posible to be brought up here and not know everything about piping you know. In fact, many people here know nothing about traditional music in general.

While I do know that there is a difference between Highland pipes, Lowland pipes, Border pipes, Northumbrian, Uillean and so on, it is obviously the Scottish Highland Pipes with which I am most familiar. It is fairly natural, therefore, for me and most people to refer to them as "bagpipes" or even "the pipes" for short. Likewise, Irish people will refer to their own instrument as "the pipes" too. It’s certainly not an "American" thing!

Having said that, I do realise that this is a world wide site. Therefore, I should have been specific. However, in view of the purpose of my post, I assumed that most people would have known what I meant.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Richard, you are being pedantic. It should be obvious that I’m talking about doublings with more notes i.e a tourluath as opposed to a d doubling (as we call it here in the home of pipinf πŸ˜‰. )

You are very good at blowing your own trumpet there. reminds me of jig. 30 years this, 30 years that. 30 years means feck all.

"I’ve been playing the GHB for over 30 years, have attended piping school, taught the pipes, played solo and in pipe bands etc etc blah blah blah"

Yes, blah blah indeed.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Ha, it’s pedants corner on this thread.

I particularly liked the "I wouldn’t call a bagpipe a bagpipe, even though it’s a bagpipe"

And I was tickled by the insistance that bagpipes are "dignified".

Posted .

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

What amazes me is the way these ornaments have changed over the last few hundred years. The written corpus of extant GHB music very clearly shows this. Yet what we have now appears to be a very different system.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Right, so in one thread Bogman has been told he doesn’t play the Highland pipes, John Jay has been accused of being American, and bagpipes have been called dignified and also, not bagpipes. It just gets better.

Pass the popcorn.

P.S. I frequently refer to the uilleann pipes as "bagpipes." Especially to airport security!

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Seosamh calm down.

There are more than one type of flute, whistle, banjo, accordeon, concertina etc in the world.

Should everyone have to qualify exactly what they mean everytime they mention one of those instruments for fear of upsetting over-sensitive nose-flute players (hey there is more than one tradition here!)?

Many words have both a more-specific and a more-generic meaning. It maybe, ‘cos I’m scottish but unless there was obvious contra-indicative context if someone says they play "bagpipes" to me it means GHB. If they play something else and think it importnat enough to be more specific, then they’ll specify.

"Bagpipes" in other parts of the world probbaly defaults to another specific unless qualified. Who cares, really.

Similarly with banjo (my main instrument). Outside of Irish music this defaults to 5-string, with most non-musos not realising there are alternatives. Within irish music it defaults to tenor. Again who cares really, if it is important enough to be more specific I’d say "tenor banjo", but most non-musos won’t care either way.

Point is "banjo" and "bagpipes" have been used in these ways for generations, you might describe this as the "traditional" usage of these words. Whilst I’m the last to claim that all traditions are good. I’m not one for abandoning tradition without good reason. I can’t see one here.

- chris

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Uilleann pipers, by the way, refer to the instrument as "the pipes" all the bleedin’ time. It’s shorthand, as people are unbelievably lazy and no one wants to go around saying "uilleann pipes" or "great highland bagpipes" or whatever all the time.

If I am at a session with someone who plays Highland and border pipes and someone asks them to play a tune on the pipes, you can usually work out which one they mean. Don’t have to say, "Play a tune on the border pipes."

As Chris said, it’s easy to work out from context what you mean. To your average non muso on the street, "the flute" means a silver Boehm system flute but in a session, it probably means a wooden flute.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I am the fourth piper in the queue to ask what the hell is a "pele" in GHB context?

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Ok solution.
The term pele was invented to describe a piping ornament by Seamus MacNeill or Dr John MacAskill after the famous footballer! LOL

It was a joke! No wonder I have never heard of it.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

So my stupid wisecrack above about Brazilian football players was inadvertently the right answer? Hilarious.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Never heard it called a pele here either. For anyone wondering what the hell is going on it’s the second ornament in this tune.
https://thesession.org/tunes/1604

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I tried to google it and all I got was Tori Amos??

Posted .

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

In that tune it’s best played as a c# triplet on another instrument. Back to the original question though. If you have Gordons book then buy his CD’s as well and play what you hear (along with the book if you wish). If you’re playing pipes (GHB πŸ™‚ )with anyone else it’s important to play as written but if your playing without another piper or playing a fiddle for example, you’re best imitating what you hear.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Ha Llig, I love that midi, who needs CD’s etc when we can learn from that πŸ™‚

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

A C sharp triplet? Yeck. πŸ™‚

I’d agree that the best thing to do is get Gordon’s CDs. Reading the piping ornamentation does my head in but the tune makes much more sense when you hear him play it.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

I’ve got some of them already but you’ll see I agreed with that in my first post. πŸ˜‰

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Yes, sorry, got distracted there. Good luck with the book, loads of great tunes in there, first tunebook I bought in years. There’s also been talk of a second volume to follow.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Who the fe*K calls the pipes "bagpipes"? Pipes man, pipes.

There that clears that up.

GHB; sounds more like a date rape drug than an instrument.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

calling a taorluath a "doubling with more notes" makes no sense.

Doublings are part of one system, while taorluaths, leumluaths (grips), and crunluaths are part of another system.

Doublings are, as the name implies, a doubling of the melody note. The doubling is created by upper gracenotes, what Irish players would call cuts.

Taoruaths, leumluaths, and crunluaths are not a doubling of the melody note and no GHB player would call them doublings, not to be pedantic, but because they are not.
Rather than a doubling of the melody note, taorluaths and leumluaths (grips) are two Low G’s seperated by a cut. Taorluaths and Leumluaths are always a pair of Low G’s regardless of the melody notes which preceed and follow them. They are not a doubling of the melody note in any way.

Back to an anatomical analogy, we have a circulatory system and a nervous system. They are different systems. We wouldn’t call the circulatory system the "larger nervous system".

Peles are a tripling of the melody note, but diffferent from the usual GHB "GDE triplet".

A Pele, in fact, could be called a "larger doubling" because it is a doubling followed by a lower gracenote. In ITM terms a pele is two cuts followed by a pat, what I’ve heard called in ITM a "double cut roll". Peles/double cut rolls are one of the few things done pretty much the same on both the GHB and the Irish whistle for example, and I’ve heard Spanish gaiteiros do them also.

GHB players sometimes call peles "hornpipe triplets" because they are usually found in GHB hornpipes, at least many of the ones composed in the 1960’s and later.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Sorry Richard but historically you are incorrect. Taorluadhs and the like have changed considerably over the last 3 hundred years.
From; low G/d/low A /E/ A
to; low G/ D/ low G / low A/E/ A
to ; Low G/D/G/E/A

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Maybe where you live Richard but not here. Here, nobody calls them pele’s of hornpipe triplets. And here, doublings are a general name for group ornaments in the same way crans are for Uillean pipes.

Things may be different in S. California, but here in the Highland of Scotland your explanations are a load of baloney.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Ha ha, fab nonsense:

"… not to be pedantic, but because …"

Posted .

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

As I like to point out the real difference between the highland pipes and the uilleann pipes is that the uilleann pipes are a musical instrument.

Thanks folks, I’ll be here all week.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

Absolutely no prizes for your originality misterpatrick.

Re: Bagpipe Music versus Standard Notation

We seem to have gone from Pele to a load of Kaka very quickly, but all in all, it’s been a most informative discussion, so thank you all

Great book, the Gordon Duncan one, very well-presented, you’ll enjoy it JJ

Posted by .