FREE Tune Books

Past Tunes of the Month – This blog has published Tunes of the Month since November 2016. Those that are not under copyright have the sheet music provided alongside video and audio recordings in the original blog post. This tune book contains contains all past Tunes of the Month that aren’t under copyright. Ian Kinnear, a renowned Scottish smallpipe maker, also publishes tunes on his website on a monthly basis.

Compositions by Patrick McLaurin – I’m not very prolific but I’ve got a few tunes that are decent.

I am not the only one who freely shares their own compositions on the internet! Here’s a list of the ones I have found:

Irish Session Tunes –┬áSometimes notes appear doubled/tripled on top of each other; in such cases one note is outside the normal smallpipe range and is preserved but placed with it is a *suggested* supplement that is in the normal smallpipe range.┬áPlease let me know of any tunes I need to add to either book!

  • If playing smallpipes in the key of “A” – Tunes in the Irish session repertoire that are in an appropriate key to be played on Scottish smallpipes in A with no transposition. A longer *list* of tunes that includes copyrighted tunes can be found on this page. Note that some of these tunes are in the key of G Major and so while they fit the scale of the A smallpipes, they should be played with your A drones off (an explanation of this is in the YouTube video below). Some of the tunes also require you to be able to play C natural instead of, or in addition to, our normal C# (C sharp); these include tunes in A (dorian) and G major.
  • If playing smallpipes in the key of “D” – Tunes in the Irish session repertoire that are in an appropriate key to be played on Scottish smallpipes in D (the itty bitty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini chanter) with no transposition.

Breton Music – So far, the bulk of this consists of one big “tune” transcribed from the Controversy of Pipers album featuring Douglas Pincock and P.M. Iain MacDonald, the track listing is Traditional European Folk Song and Dance Tunes. I understand most of them originate from Brittany, though there are French and Norwegian tunes in there also.

American Music – Military anthems and national songs, some don’t quite fit the scale of the bagpipe. Happy Birthday is in here as I didn’t have another place to put it.

Christmas Music – Most of them fit on the pipes! Sort of.

A mixolydian with low F# instead of low G tunebook – This tunebook is comprised of tunes that go just outside the normal great highland bagpipe range, requiring a low F#. To do this, one simply needs to tape over most of the tone holes of a highland pipe chanter until the low G starts to sound a low F# instead. You obviously lose the ability to play a low G, so if low G also appeared in the original score of the tune, it was likely only a transient note and was removed in the arrangement found within. One can also achieve a low F# by taping over one tone hole entirely, however this generally makes the chanter more unstable than if just both tone holes are taped over roughly evenly. Undoubtedly, the tuning of the other notes will be affected by this drastic taping of the tone holes, so expect to dedicate a chanter to this particular tuning. You cannot simply add tape to the tone holes and expect the rest of the chanter to remain in tune. Except for the conversion of the low G to low F#, the rest of the scale remains the same as a normal highland bagpipe chanter.

G major chanter tunebook – This tune book is primarily comprised of tunes in the key of G (not A dorian as you might expect). This means you need access to a C natural note resulting in the scale of a G major chanter: G A B c d e f# g a. The normal bagpipe scale, A mixolydian, is G A B c# d e f# g a. Additionally, most of the tunes found in this collection do not sound very good against drones tuned to A (hence why it’s not just a switch from A mixolydian to A dorian, but to full on G major). They will sound “off”. It is best to play them against drones tuned to G (baritones probably best tuned to D, although C is an option for a darker sound or if the tune is actually in C major instead of G major, but I think there’s only one of those). Take the grace notes and embellishments with a grain of salt; I probably don’t play it the way it’s written. These are tunes not found in the traditional repertoire of highland pipers and draw from the Irish and Northumbrian traditions. Asterisks, *, in the tune title indicate I kind of like the tune.