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bagpipe music question

GUEST,leeneia 24 Jun 07 - 03:27 PM
Mo the caller 24 Jun 07 - 03:37 PM
Geoff the Duck 24 Jun 07 - 03:40 PM
The Borchester Echo 24 Jun 07 - 03:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Jun 07 - 03:59 PM
Marje 24 Jun 07 - 04:10 PM
The Borchester Echo 24 Jun 07 - 04:17 PM
Jim McLean 24 Jun 07 - 04:18 PM
GUEST,kenny 24 Jun 07 - 04:53 PM
The Borchester Echo 24 Jun 07 - 05:02 PM
The Borchester Echo 24 Jun 07 - 05:18 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jun 07 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Jun 07 - 07:37 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jun 07 - 08:16 PM
Dave Hanson 25 Jun 07 - 04:02 AM
Jim McLean 25 Jun 07 - 05:07 AM
redsnapper 25 Jun 07 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Gadaffi 25 Jun 07 - 08:57 AM
redsnapper 25 Jun 07 - 09:07 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Jun 07 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Jun 07 - 09:29 AM
clueless don 25 Jun 07 - 09:33 AM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 07 - 10:15 AM
keberoxu 18 Nov 16 - 01:38 PM
Jack Campin 18 Nov 16 - 02:53 PM
keberoxu 18 Nov 16 - 04:28 PM
keberoxu 19 Nov 16 - 05:25 PM
keberoxu 21 Nov 16 - 02:11 PM
keberoxu 02 Dec 16 - 03:41 PM
Jack Campin 02 Dec 16 - 04:28 PM
ripov 03 Dec 16 - 02:47 PM
keberoxu 03 Dec 16 - 07:27 PM
Tattie Bogle 04 Dec 16 - 08:09 AM
ripov 04 Dec 16 - 02:54 PM
Tattie Bogle 04 Dec 16 - 03:18 PM
ripov 04 Dec 16 - 05:41 PM
Gallus Moll 04 Dec 16 - 07:41 PM
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Subject: bagpipe music question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 03:27 PM

A friend has given me a book of music for Highland Dancing. The cover shows bagpipers and a damsel in a kilt, so presumably the tunes in it are for bagpipes.

All the tunes seem to be in the key of C. The don't sound right. Is there a convention that pipe tunes are written in one key and played in another?

The preface doesn't say anything about it.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 03:37 PM

I was told that the key the tunes come out in depends on how tall the cow was and how long the relevant bone that made the instrument.
This may or may not be true.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 03:40 PM

Highland pipes were war pipes. They are designed to frighten the pants off an enemy, not to be in tune with one.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 03:49 PM

The chanters are tuned G A B C# D E F# G A but C# is flatter than the tempered scale and the A is close to B flat.

Not being Louis MacNeice I know absolutely nothing about bagpipe playing but I suppose that to play in C would make you less out of tune with instruments in standard tuning than in any other key. (Though it'll surely still sound crap).

I suppose somebody Scottish (or Spanish) will be along in a minute to explain how to get round this (other than never playing C# or A).


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 03:59 PM

Staff notation for the highland pipes is always written as if it were in D major, and, that being the case, the key signature is not usually indicated and may appear at first sight to be in C. This can be thoroughly confusing for the layman.

If you have actually got hold of a book of tunes in pipe notation, then a player can advise on how to transpose for other instruments. The cover illustration may just be generic, though. What is the title of the book? Who compiled it?


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Marje
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 04:10 PM

Your question made me curious, so I looked it up on the www.

Apparently, Highland pipes are used to accompany Highland dancing, despite their military assocations. More interestingly, Highland pipe music is often written without key signatures, so it all appears at first glance to be in C major, but the Cs and Fs are meant to be played as sharps - presumably this is the only way the pipes can play them, so they don't bother with key signatures. So your tunes may actually be meant to be played in the key of D. Have a look and see what note they end on, and you may find this is the case.

Marje


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 04:17 PM

Yes, you have chanters in C# (which is only half a sharp) and F#. So that's give scope for a dodgy D major scale. But you also have a sharpened A. How do you get round the microtonality? Has anyone found any fingering charts for the chanters? Cos I haven't.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jim McLean
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 04:18 PM

Pipe music never shows key signatures but they are written in A major, i.e., C,F and G are sharp when played, say on a piano. The chanter plays the high G neither natural nor sharp hence the 'peculiar' sound noticed when trying to play a non pipe tune on th e pipes.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 04:53 PM

There are no G sharps in pipe music. Cs and Fs are sharp so if you have a book of bagpipe notation, you play the tunes as if in the key of D. If you want to play along with recordings of pipers, use an E flat whistle.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 05:02 PM

If you play in D, what do you do about the C# chanter that's a quarter tone flat? What are the intervals on the chanters? Can you get C# on the B chanter, for instance?


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 05:18 PM

Ha!

Found a fingering chart

Very ominously, it says: It will depend on the chanter how well the additional semitones work.

Scottish bagpipe music . . . omits the key signature . . . and classifies C# and F# as F and C . . . and when C natural is required this is classified as a flat C.

Oh dear.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 05:45 PM

What instrument are you trying to play the tunes on?

On the pipes, the key signature is really two sharps (D major, A mixolydian, or B minor). But the basic pitch of pipes has drifted upwards relative to most other instruments, so they will really be playing in E flat, B flat mixolydian, or C minor. This is only an issue if you are trying to play along with bagpipes. When these tunes are played by other instruments, you assume normal concert pitch.

The rather flat C sharp can be ignored. It doesn't affect the essential character of the tune and if you're playing with other people you certainly *don't* want to reproduce it.

Look at the modes tutorial on my website for more (a lot more) on this sort of stuff.

The other thing you need to know is what to do with the gracenotes. You can't play them directly on anything but a bagpipe, but you can try to get a similar effect. Generally the more gracenotes you have in front of a melody note, the sharper the attack - they're almost like drumstrokes. This is the exact opposite to the way gracenotes work in Irish session music, where they tend to blur the beat. Brian Finnegan gets a near-equivalent for the heavier groups of gracenotes in his (untypical) Irish flute style by combining a first-finger gracenote with savagely aggressive tonguing. On the fiddle you may sometimes want to use a double stop.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 07:37 PM

I believe it's safe to conclude that they are in the key of D. Thanks.

The book is called A High Cut Above: Music for Highland Dancing by the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 08:16 PM

Leeneia, I think you play the recorder?

If so the best one to use for this stuff is a G alto, since it uses vaguely similar fingerings to a pipe chanter (and you can do all the tunes in the low register with no octave break - pipe chanters don't do octaves and it always sounds unnatural to have a break around the D, as you will have on a D whistle). The Susato Renaissance G alto (basically a low G whistle with recorder fingering) works well on pipe tunes.

If you are playing on your own and don't need to play the stuff in the usual keys a Scottish musician would expect, you can transpose them to get the same effect if you don't have a G alto - for a treble, play a D tune in C, and for a soprano or tenor, play it in G.

I haven't found a contents list for this book on the web. The Simon Fraser is a showy competition band and they do difficult stuff for the sake of it. Don't be surprised if you find some of the tunes nearly impossible.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 04:02 AM

Just for the record leeneia, MEN wear kilts, women wear skirts.

eric


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jim McLean
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 05:07 AM

Jack Campin's question as to 'what instrument' you are playing is very important. Also there are many songs written to pipe tunes which requires one to sing the G sharp or natuaral depending upon the key signature. An example where one has to sing the G sharp is Pibroch o' Donald Dhu or March of the Cameron men. Highland Laddie, on the other hand, has the G natural. I say 'has to' but of course depending on your ear and singing skills you may want to imitate the pipe tune and reproduce the G natural (transposed or not).


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: redsnapper
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 08:45 AM

Malcolm and Jim have it right.

RS


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: GUEST,Gadaffi
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 08:57 AM

Nothing to do with this really, but last year, there was a question on University Challenge concerning bagpipe music. It was the music round, and the contestants had to distinguish between the sounds emanating from various bagpipes. Uillean, Northumbrian, Highland pipes - easy peasy. I think the French cornemuse was another. But the one I stumbled on was the Galician bagpipes. What is so distinctive about the Galician pipes that sets them apart from most other European types? Beats me!


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: redsnapper
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 09:07 AM

Hi Guest,Gaddafi

I can always spot the gaita (Galician bagpipes) as their sound is very characteristic to me and quite unlike most other pipes. But I guess I've heard quite a bit of gaita playing over the years so perhaps my ear is more tuned in to it...

RS


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 09:20 AM

Galician bagpipes come in two distinct varieties.
There are gaitas galegas which have bellows.
And then the blown ones can have two drones, one or none at all.
There are also bagpipes from the other side of Spain; in Catalonia, sac de gemecs and on the Balearic Islands, xeremia.

Here ends extent of knowledge of Spanish pipes.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 09:29 AM

I've been playing the tunes on the piano and on recorder. So far they've all been in D except for one, "Paddy's Leather Breeches," which cries out to be in A.

As Jack has pointed out, I can play these on a G instrument. I have a couple of G flutes, and I'll give them a try. I'm having fun working out the tunes. Sometimes I recognize one that I've been hearing at concerts for years without knowing its name. For example, Atholl Highlanders.

Re: "The Simon Fraser is a showy competition band and they do difficult stuff for the sake of it. Don't be surprised if you find some of the tunes nearly impossible." - That probably explains the number and complexity of the ornaments in this book. Fortunately, if one's eyes are bad enough, the ornaments can't even be seen and it's back to the tune.

I ignore the ornaments. They are next to impossible to read. Anyway, I think ornaments are between a musician and his instrument. They need to be easily played or to hide a defect in the instrument. Therefore, different instrument, different ornaments.

One exception I know of is ornamentation in Mozart's music, where a particular ornament is the key to opening a whole section. I have friends who play piano, and they tell me that losing a section by missing the ornament is known as "The Schlotzman Cut-off."

Now, does anybody know what "Whistle O'er the Lave O't" means?


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: clueless don
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 09:33 AM

As others have already said or implied, I have been told that highland bagpipes are nominally tuned to A mixolydian, but that they actually sound very much like B flat mixolydian. The one time that I accompanied a bagpipe player I had success by putting a capo at the third fret and accompanying in G mixolydian (a lot of progressions with G going down to F and then back.)

Don


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 10:15 AM

"Whistle o'er the lave o't" - whistle over the rest of the verse (rather than pronounce the words out loud). Look up Burns's song, it makes it clear why.

A G flute is not like a G recorder - flutes (and pipe chanters) count the reference pitch as what you get with six fingers down, recorders are named after what you get with all fingers down. The pipe chanter in A and the G alto recorder gives you G with all fingers down. On a G flute you have two overblown notes at the top of the nine-note chanter range, which limits speed and flexibility up there, and you will have to crossfinger the C sharp as 12- 45- or similar, quite unlike anything a piper does.

There are "chanter whistles" made to have exactly the same fingering as a pipe chanter (usually they're pitched in B flat). They still don't let you play pipe tunes exactly as the pipes do - a flute-type instrument can never respond as fast to wide leaps, like those piping gracenote groups that span a fifth or more.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 01:38 PM

A piece of printed sheet music was delivered to me yesterday, and there was a surprise inside. My purpose in waking up this old sleeping thread is to share the surprise with you, hoping you won't object.

Now, I don't know from bagpipes, so allow me, please, the benefit of the doubt, or something.
Actually, what I ought to say first is, thank you all for forming this thread to begin with; because, it has already answered some of my questions about the surprise.   

On the final inner page of the sheet music is a melody that takes up five lines of staves; no key signature; and grace-notes ALL OVER THE PLACE. The title says "Lament for Nurse Cavell," and author credit reads:
"Jas. Wilson, Pipe Major. Q.V.S. [Queen Victoria School?] Dunblane."

What I actually have here is a photocopy that I paid for, and ordered, from the British Library's Imaging Department. And I had no idea there was going to be bagpipe music anywhere in it.
What I ordered and expected was:
Murdoch Maclean's poem, "A Lament for Edith Cavell." This is printed on one page.
The bulk of the pages contribute Malcolm MacFarlane's Scottish Gaelic lyric, and the melody he composed for it. What has then been done to MacFarlane's piece, is that Maclean's English poem has been squeezed in, so that MacFarlane's melody can be sung either to the Gaelic or to the English. The whole is titled "A Lament. For Nurse Cavell."

There was nothing in the British Library catalog listing, likewise there is nothing on the front cover page, that even hints at a lament -- a "pibroch" perhaps? -- composed by a Pipe Major named "Jas. Wilson."
Truly, a complete surprise.

This whole thing was printed and published with no date on it, though from the Library catalog one could place the date at 1917 or thereabouts. The publisher, in Stirling, is Eneas Mackay.

Thanks for listening.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 02:53 PM

Eneas Mackay published a LOT of books with Scottish cultural themes. I didn't know he ever did music sheets. Sheet music is very badly catalogued compared to music in books.

Can you scan it?

Wilson is a familiar name. I would guess the words were written after the tune.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Nov 16 - 04:28 PM

Many thanks, Mr. Campin. I will PM you after posting here.

For what I can make out:

Although both sets of printed music in these sheets say
"A Lament for Nurse Cavell,"
to my sight-reading eyes it appears that these are two different tunes.
The pibroch, if that's what it is, is one tune, which when I try the A-mixolydian with its "two sharps," sounds much more effective than an A-minor reading as a non-wind-player would accept it at face value.

And the tune with two-handed keyboard chordal accompaniment, like a hymn, and two sets of lyrics, is a different tune than the pibroch.

Eneas Mackay published poetry by Murdoch Maclean, and may have published things by Malcolm MacFarlane although I can't confirm it. I suppose the whole Memorial to Edith Cavell thing was a situation for which the publisher made an exception.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 19 Nov 16 - 05:25 PM

Regarding the pibroch for Nurse Edith Cavell, and its author.
For what it's worth:

My search for "Jas. Wilson," at the time the Pipe Major at Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, turned up a webpage containing articles and contributions by Old Victorians / "Old Boys." One 1968 contribution reports the death of Bert Gamack. "Bert was the first boy who actually played the pipes in the School, doing so on the pipes of the then Pipe-Major, J. Wilson, late H.L.I."
Highland Light Infantry perhaps?


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 21 Nov 16 - 02:11 PM

More about the "Lament for Nurse Cavell." I was wrong and I owe you all an apology, on one point.

The bagpipe "pibroch" tune, and the Gaelic-language melody, in fact are basically the same thing. They simply are not identical, not a complete match. I won't bore you with which bars, in the middle of the composition, go differently in the bagpipes version than they do in the sheet music for the song. But I have to admit that apart from those specific measures, the sheet music gives you two different interpretations, as it were, of the same tune.

It was just extremely distracting, in the process of sight-reading, to have on one hand the Lament song with top-down harmonizing for keyboard accompaniment, credited to "Arthur W. Marchant, Mus. Doc., " and sounding like a High Church anthem in diatonic minor, and on the other hand to look at an unaccompanied melody bristling with grace-note ornaments. The fact is, I got it wrong.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 03:41 PM

Anyway, so the photocopied sheet music has been received by Jack Campin. I feel a little sheepish and apologetic about it, as it was a fuss about nothing worth fussing about, yes? I guess the tune deserves its obscurity in the British Library archives.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 04:28 PM

It'll be useful for somebody, surely. Here goes (I couldn't post the ABC here using Windows, which is all I had available when I got it to Nigel Gatherer's site):

X:1
T:Lament for Nurse Cavell
C:Jas. Wilson, Pipe Major, Q.V.S. Dunblane
M:C
L:1/8
Q:1/4=60
K:Hp
{g}AB|{GdG}c2 {GdG}c>B    {gBd}B2   {e}A2    |{Adc}d2      f2 {gcd}c4 |\
      {gef}e2   {A}ef      {gf}g2 {afg}fe    |  {g}A2 {GdG}c2 {gBd}B4 |
      {GdG}c2 {GdG}c>B    {gBd}B2   {e}A2    |{Adc}d2      f2 {gef}e4 |\
       {ag}a2   {f}gf     {gef}e2 {gcd}ce    |  {g}A2 {GdG}B2   {g}A4||
       {ag}a2   {f}gf      {ag}a2      e{gf}g|{afg}f2 {Adc}d2  {ag}a4 |\
        {f}g2   {a}e{gf}g {afg}f2 {Adc}df    |{gef}e2   {g}A2 {gBd}B4 |
      {GdG}c2 {GdG}c>B    {gBd}B2   {e}A2    |{Adc}d2      f2 {gef}e4 |\
       {ag}a2   {f}gf     {gef}e2 {gBd}ce    |  {g}A2 {GdG}B2   {g}A4|]


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: ripov
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 02:47 PM

Kerberoxu - I think you're right about the HLI. It occurs in 'a Gordon for me', and when I asked me mum what it meant (many years ago) she also said 'Highland Light Infantry'


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: keberoxu
Date: 03 Dec 16 - 07:27 PM

....following which, of course, I had to look up "A Gordon For Me" which is in the DT. "Mackenzie of the H L I" is indeed in the first verse.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 08:09 AM

And another Wilson involved, Robert! My Aberdonian uncle taught me that one!

And yes, bagpipe notation is quite strange if you're used to standard notation, but I guess like anything else ( ABC, tab, standard notation), you can learn it if you try or need to.
And yes, ornamentation does vary with the capabilities and idiosyncrasies of different instruments.
As for bagpipe tuning, highland pipes sound as B flat, as stated above, but you can get different chanters for Lowland pipes, e.g. A and C. While in the Spain a few years back, we met a group of Asturian pipers, amd they played in C.


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: ripov
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 02:54 PM

And my mum was a Wilson before she was married.
But talking about the keys instruments are (or were) in (which we weren't) - we tend to think of pitch as fixed. But it's gone up and down a lot. So an instrument now described as, for example,in C, might have been in B, or D, when the design was standardised. Maybe pitch didn't come into it, it was just made from a bit wood that was too small to be worth putting on the fire; or had been selected as a tool handle?
And as an (another) aside - Why have we been trained to think of concert C as the basic pitch anyway? A would surely make more sense as a basis. We tune to A, not C; which therefore wanders up and down a bit according to which temperament we're in, plus a bit of artistic license!


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 03:18 PM

Because C is really the most basic piano key: all white notes in C major! So probably the first key anyone learns on the piano.
I play a B/C button box but don't play in either of those keys all that often: have to go with the fiddlers who seem to prefer G,D,A. The box (piano accordion or button box) is possibly the "oboe" of the folk orchestra, to be used for tuning to: as I tell people, can't change my tuning unless you've got a screwdriver! (And wouldn't want to anyway!)
Sorry for thread drift!


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: ripov
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 05:41 PM

With you there Tattie - I'm always tub-thumping about tuning to fixed-tuned instruments and not using tuners (although it can be awkward when there's more than one box and they're not in tune with each other),. On another thread someone mentions fiddlers continually retuning as a nervous problem; but it's actually because every time a fresh guitar strikes up its at a new pitch!


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Subject: RE: bagpipe music question
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 04 Dec 16 - 07:41 PM

Think The Queen Victoria School, Dunblane is for children of people serving in the army (and possibly navy and airforce?)

I guess I could have looked this up before posting -- - !


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