Designed & produced by Eric Maclewis


The music played with the Great Highland Bagpipe belongs to two main categories:

- ceòl-mór (Scottish Gaelic for “great music”): classical music for bagpipe made of a main theme (urlar/ground) with multiple variations and played at a slow tempo; it is the oldest form of music for Scottish bagpipe: this musical style also called pìobaireachd (English - pibroch) which means the art of playing bagpipe was the only one to be played on bagpipe until the beginning of 19th century.

- ceòl-beag (Scottish Gaelic - “beag” meaning “small” - for “dance or light music”): it was played with other instruments like the fiddle but is now played by all pipers.

The tunes displayed here (70 at present time) belong to the ceòl-beag repertoire : most of them are played during the Scots Wha Hae show.

The scores come from various sources: score transcriptions from tunes played by pipers I've heard or even met (like Fred Morrison e.g.), collections on sale like the essential Scots Guards - Standard Settings Of Pipe Music (Paterson’s Publications), traditional scores - already available on the internet, etc.
I've sometimes corrected or completed these scores because of some obvious mistakes or omissions. I've also suggested, when possible or necessary, some personal grace notes or a different structure for the score, to get slightly out from instrumental music by following the way singers perform the melody, which gives always good indications.

Meticulous searches have been done for every tune to transcribe the notes, rhythms, expression, grace notes, etc.
A beat value is also suggested for each air: based on my own feeling, this value is of course subjective and has to be considered as a working base.
The other informations submitted with the air come from a personal work of internet searches in order to get a complete view of each song or tune (score, lyrics, origins, etc…); some of these informations might be questionable because of their missing sources: I am for sure very interested in new reliable data to correct my work.

All these scores are provided free in good faith : feel free to share them, not forgetting to mention my website.

So choose a tune to learn from the score of course but also from lyrics, vids, audio files - coming from my albums, singles or edited with CelticPipes software - and the origins of the air.

NB if anyone believes there are copyright issues associated with any of the music or lyrics, please email me with details.

About the scores :

There are two main ways to transcribe the airs played with the Great Highland Bagpipe :

1. The main one - which I'll call Scottish writing - is read by all musicians and used on this website; the real pitch is an halftone above the score : as we play the A or D note from the score on the bagpipe, we hear a B flat or a E flat.
The scores are mostly written in the keys of A (with a natural G) and D.

2. The Breton writing (used by the bagadoù e.g.) : the notes are at the real pitch this time; the scores are written in E flat major for an easier reading of the two parts for bombard and bagpipe.

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About the pitch: the “chanters” (pipe on which the melody is played) are generally higher than the 440 - 442 Hz standard A (or 466 Hz for the real note B flat = Scottish A).
Playing with other instruments (guitars for example) involves to artificially extend the length of the reed by removing it slightly with some hemp added to the brass tube where the reed strips are fixed and/or by using longer reeds specially designed for this purpose.

But the best is still to use adapted chanters called “concert pitch” designed specifically for this need.

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Some of these scores have a second title (or more): some airs are in fact best known by the song related but the bagpipe tune can have different(s) name(s).

Eric Maclewis - Scottish Tunes for Highland Bagpipe (ceòl-beag)

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