Bagpipe embellishment pallet

• Jan 11, 2021 - 21:10

The embellishments are appearing 2 semitones below those indicated in the pallet.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Which means that if you are using an actual bagpipe instrument in your score, those embellishments will show correctly when being applied. So make sure that you create your score for an actual bagpipe instrument and not another (non-transposing) instrument instead.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

"It does so because bagpipe is a transposing instrument, by those 2 semitones"

There are, however other instruments, like the Irish flutes and whistles, which use employ similar techniques. (Cuts, strikes, cranns, etc.) In the past, I have used bagpipe articulations to achieve these effects, but as noted, have had to select the embellishment at a different pitch than the note which is displayed.

Odd side note, I don't see Bagpipe embellishments in the side palette. I'm certain that is where they resided. I can add these from the Master Pallette, or create a custom Pallette, but I'm curious as to when they were removed from the Advanced workspace.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I agree with all three of those reasons. I don't mind the Bagpipe Palette living on the Master Palette, but is there any way to deal with the awkward transposition issue? To be honest, I rarely use these embellishments, but when I do, I have to take a minute to figure out which of the nearly identical-looking version of the articulation is the one I want to use.

In reply to by toffle

I find that it's quicker to grab the closest approximate embellishment from the pallette - i.e., one with the right number of notes, and adjust the notes with up/down arrows after I drag it onto the staff. Other pipers I know who use musescore do this too.

Transposition issues are handled by using the bagpipe instrument instead of just a treble clef staff, and I have some suggestions in an earlier comment on how to transfer your score to a bagpipe instrument.

to fix this in your score, I suggest that you do the following:
- hit i to choose a new instrument
- find the bagpipe instrument under woodwinds, and add it to your score.
- select your original music and copy it into the new bagpipe staff
- keep the copied music selected and hit the down arrow twice to move it down 2 semi-tones.
- drag the key signature for the key of C major (no flats or sharps) onto your staff, it will add 2 sharps to your bagpipe instrument staff
- hit i again and remove the non-bagpipe instrument
- now the embellishments will work the way you expect

In reply to by Kate.Dudek

Thanks for your comments. I'm almost there. Firstly, I don't play the bagpipes, but I have read in my orchestration dictionary and other places that Scottish bagpipes sound a minor 2nd higher, so written note A would sound as Bb. Also the written music I have seen usually has a key signature of 2 sharps, although some have no key signature as the 2 sharps are implied. I think I originally entered the bagpipe notes on Concert Pitch, instead of the 'writing' pitch, but I did get an embellishment on the score the same as the pallet after following your instructions. However, there were also accidentals on C# and F#. If I tried putting the 2 sharp key signature on the written score, it changed to 4 sharps on the concert pitch. (I think it should be 3 flats).

In reply to by GeoffDa

Hi Geoff, yes you're correct. Musescore approximates bagpipes as playing in concert Bb.

However, bagpipes only have 9 notes, and the notes that pipers call C and F are really C# and F#, and since G is natural, a D major key signature is appropriate. Pipe usually play tunes written in A though, as the drones are tunes to A, so most music is technically in the mixolydian mode of D major, which sounds like the key of A with a flat leading tone (7th), but has a D major (2 sharps) key signature.

To get the correct playback sound, though, drag the "no key signature" key sig onto the first bar.

(I don't play pipes either, but I do a lot of drum teaching and composition for pipe bands!)

In reply to by GeoffDa

I am completely new to musecore, and haven't even gotten as far as writing in it yet, but as a Piping Instructor am casting about to find out if I can- a tech troglodyte I need a point and click set, lol! You might want to be aware that, oddly, bagpipers pipers pitch rises yearly, and take this into account. Thus my A this year is not the same A of a few years ago, but being a piper, we all call them A. The current pitch is set by the current leading Grade One (highest band grade) pipe bands- perhaps ask someone in a current competing band to take measurements and look online for those of the current Grade ONE World Championship Pipe Bands. The higher the grade, the more ideal the pitch, usually. So for instance, I cannot plug into my bagpipe and play on, a pipe chanter made 30, 50 or 100 years ago, as it will sound increasingly wrong, flat and sour to the ear, and there is a limit to how much harder you can shove a reed in to raise the pitch. Each year they are manufactured with microscopic variations to meet the changes occurring.

Hope this helps.

In reply to by aliciamanolas

I'm not sure that musescore can handle transposition to A-480, or playback adjustment by cents, however, if it were important to produce an output playback that matched piper pitch or practice chanter pitch, I would probably export the audio as a wav file and use Audacity (also open source) to pitch correct the entire thing as needed. It wouldn't easily be brought back into musescore though.

Another option might be to develop a custom soundfont with samples for all nine chanter notes tunes exactly as desired, and scale tuning set to 0.

I think most people use musescore for notation though, with playback as a tool for those who like to hear what they've written to see if it matches what they think they've written. (It has pretty good audio playback options but that's not its primary function).


Bagpipe notations and Piobaireachd notations...

Hi all!

I'm very new to musecore, not writing in it yet, learning if I can,- I am a Piping Instructor, and thrilled to find you all here discussing this.

I need two variants. A proper 'pipers staff' with no sharps or flats marked (yes we are aware they exist :-) !) and an 'orchestrated staff' for when piping with the rest of the worlds musicians. The latter is easy, the former I can't find mentioned. Pipers are a hidebound lot and will shun it if it doesn't 'look right', so I assume someone has already done something to the software in a piping mode, to ensure that :

a) It conforms to the primary formal rule of bagpipe scoring, whereby ONLY notes with the stem down (no matter position on staff!!) are included into the time signature.

b) All ornamentation is written stem up, and not included in the time signature. No matter how much of it there is, and we can cram in a hell of a lot!!

Can I write a score, then "blot out" the visual of the sharps/flats signage, yet still have the playback sound right? The only time we ever use them in classical bagpiping notation, is directly infront of a note, when trying to wring an extra few notes out of a 9 note instrument, using improper fingering.

The only truly odd thing we have is halfway between a musical directive, and playing a high G oddly/wrongly, making it more a natural to flatter sound, as it gets referred to at times.

It is properly called a 'Piobaireachd G' whereby the fingering for that high G is different (your middle finger goes down) ONLY when playing heavy music aka Ceol Mor aka most commonly and properly known as "Piobaireachd" [pronounce it PEA - broch, like 'loch'] which is the Classical Music of the Great Highland Bagpipe.

Occasionally a serious modern composer will throw one into a non piob. composition to give it a bit more depth, also.

So there needs to be a notation you can add at the top at the start somewhere for 'ALL high G notes to be played as Piobaireachd G fingering'.
The older performers don't need it, the newer ones though, especially Americans, do, where the oldest form of traditional piping music is having a big revival and too many folks are learning from books not tutors.

There are a few too many things in piping manuscript which go into that category of "but you should just KNOW" !!

And there needs to be a way to marker a single note, for the modern tunes composer to use. Put a letter set PG on the stave over it or just above the note head.

Piobaireachd already has that marker system for all the rest of the big ornamentation that takes up too much staff space to write out in full.
I refer you to The Kilberry Book of Ceol Mor (giant red book) or The Piobaireachd Society Collection (the two most well known creditable sources of Piobaireachd) all of whom republish the "these two English letters written above a note mean these many (usually demi semi quavers) all joined up creating thus ornamentation" in a table at the bottom of the page of the manuscript, for whichever ones that tune references. I heard talk of a pipers pallette, so I assume that includes the normal grace notes, doublings, triplings, D-throw, Strikes, Lemluath (grip), Taorluath, Darado, then goes onto Crunluath, Crunluath a mach, Edre, Throw on F, and all the piob ones?

Leading me to such tables... can they be added? They are needed, again, only the experienced older players remember what the 6th grace note in a series of 8 was when played at eye searing speeds etc, you get the idea, without quick eye glance recourse to the bottom of the page while learning, otherwise at those gracing speeds (though the tune notes are slow) we are talking fractions of a second and fingers turning into tangled noodles and tune into minced meat.

If you didn't know, we are not permitted manuscript by tradition when performing. So we use it with our Practice Chanter instrument while learning, then sometimes on the first few run throughs on the big bagpipe, standing still by a table a minute or so, but then it must be turned over for good. We get it out again in the evenings when pipes are packed away, when we do our Practice Chanter practice, and not go deafening the neighbours. Also that way there should be less agonized cat squalling noises on the bagpipe if you don't take a tune to pipe until it has been properlly and fully memorised. A Learner piper has enough on their plate managing their instrument, even if it is fitted to them like a glove (and most are poorly fitted up) that tune wrangling is the last thing on their mind, it needs to be automatic finger memory to start with, then they can get a handle on their instrument and accuracy first, only then can they focus on tweaking the tune pathos next. That is the idea!

One of a few reasons Piobaireachd has a bad reputation, too many bad players out there mangling it. If you are curious go listen to some good stuff, some Masters of Piobaireachd. Bruce Gandy, Angus McColl, Stewart Liddell etc Look up The Glenfiddich, the worlds premiere competition for it (I never competed in it when over there - I could never afford to attend the prerequisite events sadly, where you show you are good enough for an invitation, but I hope to one day, my tutors all competed there, lucky sods! ).

For your ear it's a step back in time and strange to hear, and most instantly hate it or live it, even though its mathematical perfection in the strangest way. It's longer than modern pipe music, and builds up from slow air to frentic frenzy then finishes with the original first line.
I recommend "Desperate Battle of the Birds".
This was the music of the highland people calling, not just fighting, but rowing, mourning, hell even treading grapes. Ok there are a few celebrating mass slaughters of bloody vengeance but they were not cuddly bunnies. All the tunes have their stories.

Sorry this has been so long a post, things just kept occurring to me!! I guess I am very worried about getting in and learning a new computer system, only to find out it can't cope- I am not very tech capable and I know it will be a big effort getting this going. It took me forever to wrestle early Sibelius into fessing up pipe music, years ago, and I've been using Piob Master since, then that machine crashed, but it was a pipers only program, and while the palettes were pretty wonderfully easy point, click and drag, and had most things, it was no use at all for working with other musicians! Hope you understand.

Many Thanks,

Alicia Manolas

In reply to by aliciamanolas

Thank you for those descriptive and most interesting comments, Alicia. I’m not a piper, but an English amateur keyboardist with a fascination for bagpipes that has drawn me annually to the Interceltic Festival in Lorient.
To get to the bagpipe staff, when you’re adding instruments (in the New Score Wizard, or by pressing i) you’re given a list headed ‘Common’. Click on the arrow beside it, then change it to ‘All Instruments’. Select ‘Woodwinds’ and scroll to the very bottom of that list to find ‘Bagpipe’.
After entering notes, to get to the embellishments palette, click ‘View’ then check ‘Master Palette’ and scroll down the list that opens up to find ‘Bagpipe Embellishments’.
You can switch between ‘written’ pitch and ‘sounding’ pitch by means of the ‘Concert Pitch’ button. Blue text for written. I expected the sounding pitch to be 1 semitone above written, but it is 2 semitones, and the 2-sharp key signature changes to 4-sharps. Also, the playback is in the same key as the written score.
For my initial attempts I used single acciaccaturas, and that seemed to behave OK. Things went wrong when I tried to change them to the embellishments in the palette. I’m still struggling to get the results I’m after, even after following advice, as the embellishments are not corresponding with what I’m inputting. Maybe the problem has arisen because my full score contains sections of other non-transcribing instruments, and a quick test on a new score shows I may not be far away.
Good luck!

In reply to by aliciamanolas

Welcome here!

While not a piper myself, I have spent much of my life within a stone's throw of some very talented players. As I mentioned in another post, the piping embellishments work somewhat with Irish whistles and flutes, though there are some differences to be sure. The piping embellishments are considerably more specific and evolved than the whistler's bag of tricks.

One particularly irksome problem with the flute is the single grace notes, which occupy the first row of the bagpipe palette. On flutes and whistles, these are quick, almost pitch-less cuts, and I would have thought that the same would apply on the pipes, but in playback they are long, weighted notes. I have found that the acciaccatura from the Grace Notes palette works better for my purposes.

Once again, welcome. Hopefully you'll find others here who have worked out the bugs out of pipe notation.


In reply to by toffle

Hi, this plugin (currently called PB_OTB) fixes the bagpipe playback problem of acciaccaturas and appoggiaturas playing into the time of the main note they are embellishing - it forces them to play the main note on the beat (hence OTB - PB is for pipe band) and makes the gracenotes as short as possible. . I wrote it by combining the color notes plugin with the appoggiatura plugin and I need to clean up the code a bit before I submit it as an official plugin. You're welcome to use it in the meantime though. Enjoy!

Attachment Size
PB_OTB.qml 11.04 KB

In reply to by aliciamanolas


I'm a pipe band drumming instructor/composer and I've been working for the past few months on an extension for pipe bands. I've mostly been working to improve the drumming notation and playback, but I could also include some piping improvements and I've appreciate your input (and possibly reviewing help!).

Just as a quick help though, if you make the key signature invisible (use the 'v' key to toggle visibility) that will probably help with the issue of traditional players wishing to not have it there.

I've offered a plugin below to correct the playback of bagpipes and the p/m of the band I'm currently doing instruction for has been pleased with the sound.

I think a piob G could be easily added with staff text, and I will add it to my custom pallette that I'm making in my extension - you just want the letters "PG"?


In reply to by Kate.Dudek

I'm also thinking of writing a plugin to force all main note stems down, since even when they are set to be "down" in my instrument definition, musescore sometimes still wants to point them up.

A quick fix though is to select one note, then right click and choose select > select all similar elements in same staff, then in the inspector, choose the "stem" button at the bottom of the inspector, and change the stem direction from "auto" to "down".


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