Tuning while accompanying bagpipes


New Member
Hello Folks, :D
I'm new to this forum, and it looks very interesting. I've been a French horn player for many years in both wind bands & orchestras here in the U.S. (I was born in England). I don't know if this is the appropriate forum for this question, but here goes anyway.

I am in a brass quintet (2 trpt, 1 horn, 1 tuba, 1 euphonium), which is playing a piece with a local pipe band. Although I am a piping student myself, I have not yet attempted to put brass & pipes together, and am very concerned about the tuning. Does anyone on the forum have experience and/or advice they could share about this issue?

As the concert where we will be performing is primarily a pipe band concert, the pipers have no time to change their tuning to something closer to us, so we have to come up to them. The first C trumpet part is written rather high without having to lip it up, and that's what's mainly concerning me. Help!

If anyone is interested, the piece we are playing is an arrangement of Hector the Hero, and can be found on the Denver Brass website: www.denverbrass.org The piece is available in brass ensemble or quintet arrangements. It's a gorgeous tune, and I highly recommend it if you'd like to try something different!

Thanks much for any help you can give.
Hello and welcome to the forum.

My band (Scottish Co-op Band) have played several items with bagpipes and the tuning didn't seem to be a problem. The leader would tune with us on the chanter then he in turn would tune up with his piper people. If it's with a soloist then of course it's easier.

Good luck. Hope it goes well.



One of the bands I conduct did a recording at the end of last year and one of the pieces had pipes with it. We had real trouble with the tuning between pipes and band. Apparently pipe bands have been getting sharper and sharper over a number of years and this has caused many problems for our recording engineer. (A very experienced and well respected ex-BBC man who now has his own company.)
Fortunately he has some wizard stuff in his studio which resulted in the band and pipes recording the piece at different times. He then adjusted timings / pitch etc. and the result was incredible given the circumstances.
I think it's something to do with the reeds that the pipers use.
Would it be bad of me to say that pipers in the USA are great - as long as they are in the USA and I'm here in sunny Scotland! :wink:
When the Troops Band were in Canada we did a big tatoo thing with a couple of pipebands and can't remember there being any tuning problems. saying that we were all busy looking at the scottish dancers. :wink:

I was sitting next to Gorgieboy at the time and he got very emotional, it was a nice moment.


New Member
Oh, I should have known I'd get bagpipe jokes from some of you. :roll:

Pipe bands have experienced a rise in pitch over the last few decades. My band was tuning our low A (which is closer to a concert B flat than an A!) at 478 Hz last week. B flat is normally approximately 466 Hz, so you can see I've got what's potentially a very big problem! There's no one reason for the increase in pitch for pipes recently, but manufacturing techniques and the materials (plastic and carbon fibre) which drone reeds are now being made out of have been big contributors.

We're rehearsing brass quintet & pipes together in a couple of weeks. I will be sure not to forget my earplugs for that event!

Thanks all for your input.


Active Member
If the "A" is being tuned 12 cycles higher than a normal B-flat, why not just assume that it is a B-flat? The brass players would have to transpose their parts a half-tone, but IMO that's preferable to having to tune a half-tone sharp, which leaves little room to go sharper if needed.

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