Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Scout the net and you will really struggle to find common tunes that are regularly played in sessions but ALSO where the whole set can be played on small/border pipes.

Lets put a list of suitable session SETS for pipers, where others can join in rather than the other way round!!

Opening shot
Lark in the Morning + Gold Ring (Jigs)
Panda + Kesh + Eavesdropper (Jigs)
Rakish Paddy + Mountain Road + Humours of Tulla (Reels)

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Are you just trying to find Irish tunes?

You’ll have no problem finding tune sets from the Highland pipe repertoire which are commonly played in Scottish sessions.

And with a set of border pipes there will be no arguments about what tune comes next.

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Any popular tunes will do. But looking for sets that can be lead by the piper but followed by everyone.

all too often the session sets are lead by fiddlers or tunes of which only one or two can be played by the piper. So want to put together sets where the piper AND everyone else can all play together. A "Piper-Led Session" collection.

Sitting out most of the time is no fun!!!

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

You can always learn how to play the uilleann pipes? Two whole octaves to play with then. I’m only half joking. Most of the good border pipers I know are also sh*t hot whistle players.

More seriously, as Jack has said, there are squillions of tunes in the Highland piping repertoire. It’s a tremendous waste of energy to worry overmuch about whether or not everyone else in your session is going to know the tune you just learned. Nothing worse, in fact, than a session where the same tunes are played week in and week out, and if you brought in some decent Scottish tunes and your session-mates learned them, that can only be a good thong.

If you want to learn Irish tunes, Gordon Duncan and now a lot of the younger pipers who learned from him, like Ross Ainslie, play and adapt some Irish tunes to the Scottish pipes. Sometimes they fit, but often they change the key (as you would have to do with the Gold Ring, the Mountain Road, and the Eavesdropper, and I have to say, I would not put Rakish Paddy on a list of Irish tunes that go on the Scottish pipes, but what do I know).

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

"And with a set of border pipes there will be no arguments about what tune comes next…." (Jack Campin)

Sure thing! Just play the set of tunes you want to, and those who don’t like them will just have to gnaw their toenails for the duration, or freeze in catatonia like little voles paralysed by the swooping owl’s horripilant minatory squall.

Don’t get me wrong, I like them. The Border pipes, that is. I incubate dark thoughts to them 🙂.

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Thanks for pointing me this way, C.

We have a couple pipes driven sessions out my way in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately we have some Scottish and Cape Breton oriented fiddlers in the area which has proven crucial in having a good session. Pipe tunes are prominent in those repertoires, including modern tunes like Gordon Duncan’s material, so making sets on the fly is possible.

As mentioned above, the snag with a lot of the Irish tunes adopted to Scottish pipes is the key changes altogether or the B part gets folded into the pipe scale. D tunes change to A, G tunes change to D or even A. E minor tunes become B minor etc.

Here’s a few tunes off the top of my head that have crossed over between Scottish and Irish repertoires without changing too much.

Jig of Slurs
Atholl Highlanders
Calliope House (in D, not E)
Leg of the Duck
Old Favourite

I know there’s more jigs than that.

Dinky Dorian’s
Dick Gossip
Shetland Fiddler
Brenda Stubbert
Glass of Beer
Mason’s Apron
Humours of Tulla
Mrs MacLeod of Raasay
Silver Spear
Wild Irishman
High Reel
Oyster Wives Rant
Jenny’s Chickens

Some of these might need a note fixed here and there like notes outside the pipe scale. Sometimes swapping in the octave equivalent works like the F at the start of The Silver Spear or the b in Dinky’s. Most of the A part of Dick Gossip’s gets played an octave higher. Sometimes you just gloss over it by extending the adjacent notes.

Hope this helps.

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

You could always try some Border pipe tunes. A bit of an outrageous suggestion, I know, but… if you’re going to be unpopular, why not ‘go the whole hog, including the postage’?

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets


Do you already have "Traditional Irish Music For The Bagpipe " by Rickard? I see them floating around here and there, and if you pay more than ten dollars for it, you are likely being over-charged.

It is a cheap tatty little booklet, with I believe only 50 or so tunes. They are all adaptations (see Malcolm’s posting above), and as such do not go the way the "original" versions go, but it might be worth a look.

And it does not contain "A Grazing Mrace".

Posted by .

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Hmm, there is an expectation of wanting Irish tunes - because i started it all off with some. Actually i’d rather Scottish but since everyone seems to be bashing out Irish I thought i’d hide behind them.

The point i’m really trying to make is, I don’t want to be a piper who struts his stuff solo, while others politely or otherwise wait until you’ve shut up and then get back to their usual stuff.

I have a fantastic combination set of Fred Morrisons Reelpipes/smallpipes so they are interchangeable. Anonymity of smallpipes - and the blast of reel pipes.

My main point is trying to put together sets of tunes - that many session players know, that happen also to be playable on the pipes.

I’m not talking individual tunes. I’m looking for sets that really work, the condition being they are entirely playable on pipes (and therefore by default by all whistles, fiddles, mandolines guitars etc etc)

So lets have some SETS - of POPULAR tunes - all playable on the pipes……big ask. Not much satisfaction!

this is a big ask - I have spent months looking - there is no such thing. there really ought to be.

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Jaysus, I don’t even think of sets for myself to play until I’m in the middle of one tune and trying to figure out what tune I’m going to play in the next ten seconds.

Everyone here has suggested reasonable tunes (Irish and Scottish). It’s up to you to put them together in whatever way suits you.

There are no "sets" magically out there. I could name three random tunes that other musicians might or might not know (try High Drive/Jolly Tinker/High Road to Linton) but so what? No one here is psychic and knows the repertoire of your session mates. No one knows the "popular" tunes in your geographical area. So any suggestion of sets or tunes here could be useless, as your mates at the session might not even play them. Why not speak to them and say, "I can only play nine notes. What tunes do you think we can play together?"

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

Borders tunes should not be forgot, ‘tis true, Matt. I think a lot of the tunes offered were under the premise of the predominance of Ir-Trad sessioneers.

Mr Preston’s Hornpipe is a popular one locally after Gary West taught it at one of the workshops out this way.

Gordon Mooney’s "Lammermuir" comes up now and again when we want to play something nice as opposed to big sets of jigs or reels.

The smallpipe group that gets together in Seattle has a bigger Borders repertoire, playing from the LBPS books.

But on to Jake’s big ask, "sets" are unique to individual sessions. They are often made up on the spot and vary depending who is participating in the session. Part of the fun of a session is coming up with these things as a group.

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

What I meant by "sets" was that there are many many pipers who play certain tunes together because they work well together, not made up on the hoof!

sometimes using an interesting key change, some times because of an interesting change of rhythm - the point being there are tunes that naturally flow together and i can’t believe all you session addicts make the decision of what to play next in the last 3 secs of what you are playing - you are more than likely going to flow into another tune that you know works really well.

Let’s drop the words "sets" and use the word "pairings" instead.
Here are some already popular ideas.

Snuff wife + Thief of lochaber
Scatter the Mud + Tripping Upstairs
Out of the Air + Price of a pig
Jenny Dang the Weaver + Ale is Dear
Panda + Kesh
Whistling Postman + Clancy’s Jig
Train Journey North + Tam Bains Lum
Lark in the Morning + Gold Ring
Banks of Allen + Rory McLeod
Father John MacMillan + Sprig of Ivy

Re: Definitive Border/Smallpipes Session Tune Sets

smallpipe in a:
the silver spear (play low g instead of f sharp)
the high real

smallpipe in d:
last nights fun
trip to pakistan
humors of tulla