Brass & Bagpipes

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by catto09, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. catto09

    catto09 Member

    Does anyone have any specific advice for playing with Bagpipes? I'm aware pipes can be very sharp. Has anyone come up with a genius way to get the band and pipes to play relatively tunefully together?

  2. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    I think, like decent brass players, pipers play more in tune the more experienced they are.

    Wantage Band has done lots of gigs with the Reading Scottish Pipe Band and I don't remember tuning being an issue. But they are a Class Act, so you wouldn't expect tuning difficulties...

    Is there a specific piece you've started rehearsing that isn't working as you'd expect? Or do you plan working with pipes in the future and want to know the pitfalls in advance?
  3. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I didn't like bagpipes and Brass together until I listened to "Highland Cathedral" played by the Household Troops Band of The Salvation Army. A very moving piece of music. I can't say I herd any major tuning issues.
  4. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    My last experience of this was trying to transpose on the march to get in tune with the band and finding myself in five sharps.

    One of my friends was, until recently, a pipe major with the Royal Scots and led the band that recorded the album "Spirit of the Glen" which they recorded in Iraq. He told me that this happens because most pipes are high pitched. To get round this his band carries additional concert pitch (a=440) chanters for playing with military bands or civilian groups. Marching on their own they use the high pitch ones which is why you get the impression that marching a brass band and a pipe band together should be easier than it is.
  5. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    I just checked one of the good pipe manufacturers web sites and they are stating a tuning pitch of A=475Hz for a standard chanter. The old brass band high pitch "Kneller Hall pitch" was A=452Hz so its no surprise that I was having to transpose up the way to be in tune with the local pipe band. The pipe's A was higher than my concert Bb (written C).
  6. mxb59307

    mxb59307 Member

    All bagpipes should be humanely destroyed to avoid any unnecessary suffering. End of.
  7. chill

    chill Member

    Our MD Ian Mac McElligott has just finished writing 6 pieces for band and Bagpipes. Might be worth having a chat with him.
  8. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    There is no god.
  9. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I'm reminded of an old cartoon of Hagar the Horible, a viking who, upon beaching his longship is depicted as hearing an aweful sound coming from the top of the cliff. The next cartoon block showed a cloud of dust and a sword point sticking out of the dust in one corner and a foot in another. The final picture showed Hagar with his foot on a bagpipe, with a hiss of steam coming out, sword raised and a Scotsman laying sprawled on the ground......the caption was priceless as Hagar said "I don't know what it was, but I got it!!". I've wished so many times over the years that I had kept that cartoon, it was one of the funniest I've ever seen.

    On a more serious note, another good combination was Amazing Grace. Not sure if it was ever done in the same way for brass but the military band and pipes version that was so successful was outstanding.
  10. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    Although when they do it they use concert pitch chanters. Your local pipe band probably doesn't have those. Hence the problem.
  11. chill

    chill Member

    Funnily enough this is one of the arrangements Ian has just written :)
  12. Fat_Bari

    Fat_Bari Member

    Pretty sure that the bagpipes are in Bflat.
  13. Mujician

    Mujician Member

    Yes, highland pipes are Bb. And all the chanters are easily tuned so there shouldn't be a problem with intonation
  14. mxb59307

    mxb59307 Member

    Bagpipes are tuned? Who'd have thought.
  15. fartycat

    fartycat Member

    Some of the best pipers I've worked with were the Gurkas - before every performance they all tuned up outside and they sounded fantastic.

    I'm not an expect but modern bagpipes are tuned very sharp. To get them to a regular pitch (low enough to play with a band but still sharp) the pipers will need a special orchestral chanter and tune the drones down as well.

    Also insist that they rehearse especially if doing a piece like Highland Cathedral or Amazing Grace, speaking from experience, nearly every piper has a slightly different take on well known classics and most don't read music.
  16. MosleyMF

    MosleyMF New Member

    I was hoping the Scottish independence referendum was going to be successful which would of possibly rid this country of the Bagpipe. Unfortunately.... It just wasn't to be.
  17. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    Bagpipes. . Nearly as good as Morris dancers
  18. fartycat

    fartycat Member

  19. Ian McElligott

    Ian McElligott New Member

    The Bagpipes is an ancient instrument (1000BC). To say they are pitched in Bb is slightly misleading – the chanters tonality is based on the mixolydian scale - sounding range Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb (both Abs are very flat) written range a semitone lower without the use of accidentals. The 3 drones (1 x bass, 2 x tenor) drones are normally pitched in octaves Bb. The pipes tend to be written in:

    • Bb major i.e. Cock O’ the North, Scotland the Brave, 79[SUP]th[/SUP] Farewell to Gibraltar
    • Eb major i.e. Amazing Grace & Highland Cathedral, Highland Laddie, Black Bear
    • Also relative minors G & C minor

    I hope this is helpful
  20. mxb59307

    mxb59307 Member

    Or as I read it...