New Website Launches With Original ‘Ensemble Friendly’ Pipe Band Music

Since retiring in 2021, I have been working full-time on a study, and it has evolved into something that I think the pipe band world will be very interested in.

The work, titled: ‘Insights into Pipe Band Ensemble’, was written to investigate how MSR pipe-tunes of the future might be composed so that their rhythms allow for a side-drum accompaniment to integrate more closely with them.

By Alan Jones

In other words, bagpipe music designed to meet the musical needs of both pipers and drummers. I refer to this type of music as being ‘ensemble-friendly’.

The work is now completed and is available here. It includes the 28-chapter study, together with 16 original, ensemble-friendly, MSR pipe-tunes, that accompany it. Anyone can access the website for free.

Written by myself, these tunes (using only simple driving rhythms, and basic repetition structures), demonstrate the high levels of pipe-drum ensemble integration that can be achieved by applying the findings of the study.

Jim Wark, Brendon Eade, Michael Grey, and Jonathon Quay have all been kind enough to assist me with the quality-control checking of these compositions. Jim also introduces the website with a Foreword page.

Please note the following: The author comes from a Grade 1 side-drumming background. He cannot play the chanter or bagpipes.

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All ensemble-friendly pipe tunes have been written to stand alone in 2, 4, 6, or 8-part formats. Each pipe-tune has its own mp3 audio-file and pdf sheet-music file. Each is accompanied by a simple drum-score with its own pdf file.

Audio files deliver highly realistic playback. Here is my tune D/Sgt Ron Wood:

All sheet-music has excellent print-off resolution.  All audio and sheet-music files can be downloaded separately, from the website for FREE. A brief background/history for each pipe-tune is also provided. 

Ensemble-friendly pipe tunes are composed in an unusual order: Firstly, a ‘rhythm-profile’ is determined, then the melody is decided upon, then finally, the embellishments are attached. 

The website is ‘dynamic,’ meaning that parts of the study may be updated as new ideas are developed, and as new pipe-tunes and drum-scores are written and added. 

James Wark of Scotland and Brendon Eade of New Zealand have been of great assistance to the author. Being able to submit his completed tunes to them for a final embellishment check, has resulted in an end-point quality that he wouldn’t have been able to achieve on his own. 

To thank James and Brendon for their work, the author has written and dedicated an ensemble-friendly 2/4 march for each of them, Pipe Major James Wark and ‘Dr. Brendon Eade, both tunes are included on the website

Michael Grey (Canada) and Jono Quay (Australia) have also assisted, quality checking one tune each. The first three tunes written by the author are, M: Drum Sgt. Ron Wood (4 parts); S: The Inner Sanctum (4 parts); R: The Hobbit (8 parts). I believe this makes them the first, purpose-written, ensemble-friendly, competition MSR pipe-tunes in the world. 

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