PP Ed’s Blog: Practice Chanter Tuning/ Alt Piob Club/ Angus Lawrie/ Diary Dates

Bruce Beavis in Chicago: ‘I’m the P/Sgt for a start-up Grade 5 band and I was thinking about tuning practice chanters.  

‘I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the general topic of musicianship in bagpiping and wonder what your thoughts are. 

‘It seems odd to me that we treat the bagpipe like a musical instrument but spend most of our time practicing on a practice chanter that has a crappy tone and is likely out of tune with itself.  

‘When we are all playing together, every chanter is playing a slightly different pitch and of course, it sounds god-awful.  

‘Ironically, later in the evening we spend barrels of time dicking around with our pipes and fiddling with tape.  

‘Is there an easy way to use a bagpipe tuner to tune a chanter? I could not get mine to show a reading using a practice chanter.

‘If I switch over to a chromatic tuner is get a low A on the chanter at about 232. Any ideas?’  

I wouldn’t muck about with tuners. Simply set everyone’s practice chanter to whoever is taking the class.

Raise and sink reeds as required and use tape on sharp notes. Some chanters are simply not compatible and, for all they cost, I would encourage replacement of the rogue instruments.

I think it important from another persepctive too – training the ear. You do not want to be filling your head with false scale intervals.

At all times, and everytime we play, we should strive for the best quality sound possible. It makes a huge difference to the enjoyment of your instrument be it bagpipe or practice chanter.


Angus Lawrie

I hear there was a very large turn out at Angus Lawrie’s funeral in Ayr last week with many tributes paid to his contribution to the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, his expertise as a composer and his early life as a star of the shinty field. RIP Angus, your music lives on.


The US-based Alt Pibroch Club has sent this: ‘The mission of the Alt Pibroch Club (APC) is to re-extend the idiom of piobaireachd performance and composition by exploring the multitude of ancient and modern interpretations, styles, and schoolsof performances. making them accessible to the public.

‘…….we are creating a safe space for performers and composers to explore the extensive range of interpretive possibility this art form represents.

‘To this end we are introducing the APC Modern Pibroch Library. We are creating a series of annually released volumes of new pibroch compositions.


Click here for more

Today we are announcing our selection of compositions for the inaugural volume 2018:

• Simon Chadwick – Failte Mhic Mhuirich
• Jordan Alexander Key – Òran do beag madadh-ruadh
• Carleton Macy – Dilemma
• Janet Montague – When Sorrow Calls
• Lisa Robertson – Piobaireachd for Violin and Piano
• Matthew Welch – Looking at Loch Fyne

Consummate and respected composers from all over the world and from a myriad of musical traditions contributed to this volume, and we are happy to make available what we consider the most exciting of the works we received.

Soon we will announce the release of a new website by the Alt Pibroch Club where these scores (and recordings) may be purchased and downloaded, along with biographical information about the composers.


2019 is almost upon us. Here are some dates for your diary:
Florida Pipe & Drum Academy: Feb 13 -17
Uist & Barra Professional: March 2
Piob. Soc. Conference: March 23
Piob. Soc. St Cecilia’s Recital: Aug 11
Worlds: Aug 16/17
Oban: Aug 21/22
Inverness: Aug 29/30
Cowal: Aug 30/31


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