Small Tunes: “The Last Day of the Year”


hogmanayfireThe end of another year approaches. It is an old Scottish tradition on Hogmanay, the last day of the year, to build a large fire and cast in and burn all that you wish gone for the coming year. Hogmanay-type celebrations are almost universal worldwide with the warmth of a large fire reminding us meager humans that the crushing darkness of winter will be over eventually and the sun of spring and summer will be here again. The tune “The Last Day of the Year” is one among several tunes from the piping tradition, tunes such as “I Wish You a Merry New Year,” “New Year’s Day,” and “Hogmanay was Ever Cheery,” that ush in the start of another year with an an upbeat, frivolous mood. Download the score for the waltz, the strathspey, and the reel settings of “The Last Day of the Year” below and play the one that suits your particular New Year’s Eve celebration. Happy New Year!







Small Tunes: “Christmas Carousing”


piperswantsanta“Christmas Carousing” is a tune that captures the spirit of the yuletide holidays with no mysterious double meanings in its title. It is what it says on the tin. This arrangement is from The Piper’s Delight, a slim but interesting collection compiled by the late, great Robert Reid. Reid had his own ideas about piping and pipe music and the classic tunes collected in his book bear his unmistakable stamp and offer more than a few interesting twists.

The tune “Christmas Carousing” is a fun, spirited reel that makes its first published appearance in the 1848 collection of William Gunn. Past that, it was in just about every published bagpipe music collection that saw print up until the pre-war collection of the Seaforth Highlanders. No more carousing was had at Christmas after that it seems until the tune suddenly reemerges in Duncan Johnstone’s Book 3, Strathspeys and Reels, published in the 1990s. A great tune to throw down in your future holiday music-making. Download the set score and have a listen to the tune below. Peace and goodwill to all! Have a Merry Christmas!




The Salvaged Wood Smallpipe

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fellow bagpipe addict and pipehacker-in-training Johnny L. stopped by for a visit recently and he is the first recipient of the “Pipehacker DIYB award.” OK, I made that…


Pipehacker Tip: The DIY Pipe Bag Seasoning Funnel

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bagpipe bag seasoning is messy stuff. The wide mouth opening of your modern container of Airtight makes it an easy matter to make a clean pour into your…


Pipehacker Project: The Reed Capsule

Friday, March 11, 2011

Even though you now has a portable reed case (as well as minty fresh breath) you still have need to store, transport, or otherwise protect your chanter and…


Pipehacker Project: The Personal Reed Case

Friday, February 4, 2011

An enterprising bagpiper can accumulate a large number of chanter reeds over time. But once you find those choice bits of cane, what do you do with them?…


Pipehacker Tip: Bagpipe Bag Hole Punch

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For those new to the hide bag tie-in, it has always been necessary to measure out and place the spots where your stocks will insert. A quarter-sized hole is then cut into the leather and the stock pushed through. The trick is always to get as round a hole as possible. The more perfectly circular the hole, the less likely it will be to tear when you push your stock through. The only way to do this well is to have an ideally sized “punch” to stamp out that hole.


Pipehacker Project: The DIY Blowstick Valve

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are there any pipers left who remember the days of leather blowstick flapper valves? The little circles of old bag leather that dried up and had to be gnawed back to life in order to function? No? Well, once upon a time pipers had to make their own flapper valves to tie on to their blowpipes.


Pipehacker Project: The Black Art of Black Wax

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in the day, the gooey black bits of “cobbler’s wax” were oftentimes a melted mess in a piper’s maintenance kit awaiting their next turn at a strand of hemp. What is simply globs of pine resin and pitch (otherwise known by the scientific name “soot”), the stuff was crumbly, sticky, and infuriating at the same time but has always been ideal for sticking that first wrap of hemp on your pipe tenons. But what do you do when your chunk of black wax has crumbled to nothing?


Pipehacker Project: A Case for the Eyeglasses Drone Reed Case

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Over the years, I have acquired many sets of drone reeds. Right now, I’ve got two combination sets going for solo and band playing that comprise three different makes. It has been an ongoing challenge keeping them packed safe and sound while they are not being played or transported in my pipe case.

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