top of box
bottom of box

Andrew Lenz's bagpipe journeyAndrew
seasoning hands playing drones bags and stocks people
reference articles competition journal piping links FAQ contact me

Andrew's Tips: Bagpiper's Dictionary/Glossary

By Andrew T. Lenz, Jr., Santa Cruz, California, © 2001-July 28, 2023

This reference, a piper's glossary, is intended to define terminology and abbreviations associated with bagpiping, and in particular, the Great Highland Bagpipe. There are over 400 terms explained below to help you learn what a word means or simply gain a greater understanding of bagpipe terms. Definitions are given only within a piping context.

If you are aware of some terms that should be included that are not, have corrections (Heaven forbid), improved explanation, or additional insight, please contact me.



A&SH. (abbreviation) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

a mach. Literally translated from gaelic, means "to go out." Used in context of describing complex piobaireachd variations, such as "taorluath a mach" or "crunluath a mach." Only executed from B, C and D. An "a mach" variation is typically the last in a series of variations in a piobaireachd. Pronounced "ah mahk."

AB. (abbreviation) African Blackwood. See "African Blackwood."

abc. A text based notation for music. For instance, Low-A is "A", High-A is "a", grace notes are indicated by placing them in curly braces, e.g., {g} is a High-G grace note. For a complete description visit The abc home page. (My Guide to abc Music Notation for Bagpipes elsewhere on this site may be of interest.)

ABW. (abbreviation) African Blackwood. See "African Blackwood."

acciaccatura. A musical term for a grace note, hardly ever used by bagpipers. Derived from the Italian word acciaccare, "to crush." See "grace note."

ACPBA. (abbreviation) Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association.

active grace note. A grace note in a movement that is sounded by raising the finger associated with that note, for example, the "G" and "F" graces in an E doubling. As opposed to a "static grace note." This somewhat uncommon term is seen in "The College of Piping Tutor For The Highland Bagpipe: Part 3." Also see "static grace note."

Acwalite. A early type of celluloid plastic or thermoplastic, sometimes called French Ivory. Similar to Bakelite, but in more limited colors and more permeable. Found it's way into limited use for bagpipe fittings in the early 1900s. Very vulnerable to damage from UV light.

adjudicator. An individual who judges the performances at competitions, in other words, a judge.

African Blackwood. The most common wood used for making bagpipes. High natural oil content as well as dimensional stability make this tree's heartwood an excellent choice for woodwind instruments. Known as the Mpingo tree in the Swahili language, its scientific name is Dalbergia melanoxylon.

AGL. (abbreviation) Above Grade Level. A comment (sometimes a checkbox) found on competition judging forms. If the judge feels that the particular performance was above the grade in which it was played, he or she can indicate so. Helps an association evaluate whether someone is capable of successfully competing if advanced to a higher grade.

AGM. (abbreviation) See "Annual General Meeting."

Aiguillette. Ornamental braiding worn at the shoulder. Similar to fancy shoelaces in appearance.

Airstream. A brand of plastic blowpipe and somewhat rectangular-shaped mouthpiece.

AlCal. (abbreviation) Alberta Caledonia Pipe Band.

alternate attack note. Any note other than "E" as the introductory (non-melody) note of a band set. While not common, it's acceptable in most competitions, though if done less than perfectly well will normally result in a bigger deduction than a failed "E" attack note. If done well, it can be rewarded by the judges. Can be considered a "gimmick" by traditional judges. Also see "attack note."

ANAPBA. (abbreviation) Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations. Established in 1999 in an effort to standardize rules and procedures across the various member pipe band associations.

Annual General Meeting. This is a convention of sorts held every year by a piping association to consider rule changes, vote in new officers, and conduct other association business. Abbreviated as "AGM."

APBA. (abbreviation) Australian Pipe Band Association.

apron. The unpleated front section of a kilt, in front of which one's sporran hangs.

Argyll. A type of very plain cut doublet jacket. Not as common. Named after Clan Campbell of Argyle/Argyll, a former county in western Scotland. Pronounced "R guy L."

Argyllshire Gathering. A annual high-profile competition and games held each August in Oban, Scotland. Founded in 1871.

Arr. (abbreviation) Arranged. See "arranged."

arranged. Refers to an individual (not the composer) who wrote down a particular version (arrangement) of a tune. For example, a tune may be noted as: "Arranged PM D. MacLeod," this means the particular combination of gracenotes, etc. was decided by this individual. Often abbreviated "Arr."

ASBM & HD. (abbreviation) Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland. Originally founded as 'The Army School of Piping' in October 1959 with PM John A. MacLellan as Chief Instructor. The school’s title changed to 'The Army School of Bagpipe Music' in 1968. With a merger on April 1, 1999, it became 'Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming'.

ASoP. (abbreviation) Army School of Piping. See "ASBM & HD."

ASP. (abbreviation) Army School of Piping. See "ASBM & HD."

attack. Used with regard to bands, refers to the beginning of a performance: the strike-in, the sounding of the introductory (attack) note, followed by the tune. As an example: "We blew the attack, one of the pipers started playing the wrong tune."

attack note. The introductory note of a band set. Bands typically strike in the drones, sound an "E" note (the common attack note), then follow with the first note of the tune. Also see "alternate attack note."

arundo donax. The scientific name for Spanish cane. Used for the manufacture of cane chanter reeds and cane drone reeds. Also used for reeds in oboes and clarinets.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


back hole. Another name for the high-A hole which is on the rear (hidden) side of a chanter.

BAG. (abbreviation) Bagpipe Association of Germany e. V. It is the association which governs German pipers, drummers and dancers.

bag. An airtight sack of sorts to which the stocks are secured. Traditionally made of sheepskin or cowhide, now also made of Gortex and other synthetics or combination of a synthetic interior and a hide exterior.

bag cover. A decorative fabric sleeve into which the bag is inserted. The fabric is commonly velvet, corduroy, or a tartan, but others are also used. Fringe at each of the openings (chanter stock, drone stocks, blowpipe stock and rear) is common.

bag seasoning. See "seasoning."

Bakelite. An early non-flammable thermoset plastic used for some early 20th century bagpipe mounts. Patented by Dr. Leo Baekeland (Belgian born) in 1907, who started the Bakelite Corporation. Formed from a combination of carbolic acid (phenol) and formaldehyde to produce phenolic resin dubbed "Bakelite." Bakelite replaced flammable celluloid, which had been the most popular synthetic material. Bakelite came in the five colors of yellow, brown, butterscotch, green and red—the later two of which were not commonly used in bagpipe making. Bakelite usually changes color within few years after its manufacture and can be found to be relatively dark on old sets. Starting in the 1920s cylinders of the material were cast and from which mounts would be turned. The Bakelite patent expired in 1927 and was immediately acquired by the Catalin Corporation which renamed the product "Catalin" and developed a process to allow for a total of twenty colors. Bakelite and Catalin became obsolete by the end of WWII.

baldric. A heavily ornamented piece of fabric worn diagonally across the chest and back from the left shoulder to the right hip. Used to identify the individual in charge, typically worn by the drum major or in his/her absence, the pipe major. If the band wears duty sashes, the band leader would wear a baldric and a duty sash. Also see "duty sash."

balmoral. A type of headwear, somewhat like a mushroom in shape, typically with a decorative ball in the center on top. Often seen with a metal badge on one side and two ribbons that dangle at the back.

Balvenie Medal. The Balvenie Medal was first offered in 1985, as an outgrowth of the annual Glenfiddich Piping Championships which was founded in 1974. The Balvenie Medal is not a competition medal, but an award presented to recognize "services to piping." Recipients have included non-pipers as well as pipers such as Duncan Johnstone and Andrew Wright.

Bannatyne. A brand of synthetic bagpipe bag available either as a fully synthetic bag or a synthetic bag with incorporated hide outer layer.

bar. In sheet music, it is a portion of the tune between two vertical line dividers on the staff. The number of beats in a bar is indicated by the time signature.

bass drone. The longest drone on a set of bagpipes, when tuned sounds exactly two octaves lower than Low-A on the chanter.

bass drum. Large low-pitched drum that sets the beat. A bass drummer plays both sides (heads) while the drum is held in a vertical position.

BCPA. (abbreviation) The British Columbia Pipers' Association.

BD. (abbreviation) Break down. See "break down."

beading. The wider areas between the combing on a drone. Also see "combing."

beats. Rhythmic cycling sound of drones that are out of tune. Quick cycling indicates the drones are very out of tune, slow cycling indicates the drones are close but not quite in tune. Drones that are in tune will have no beats.

bell. 1) The dramatically wider portion at the top of a drone, may also refer to the internal bore which is resembles an upside-down bell. 2) The section of a chanter below the vents. Also see "vents."

bellows. A pleated bag strapped to the upper arm that supplies air through a valved tube to a bag which in turn supplies consistent air to reeds. Seen on most Scottish smallpipes (though some are mouth-blown), uilleann pipes, and border pipes.

BEM. (abbreviation) British Empire Medal. Was a lower-class form of the MBE. Eliminated by the British Prime Minister in the 1990's as it was considered to be socially wrong to have what could be considered a two-tier system. Also see "MBE" and "OBE."

BGrip. A brand of non-slip material applied to bag covers first marketed in 2003. Production ceased in 2006.

Big Mac. See "Bor Mor."

binding. The hemp used to wrap the two pieces of cane to the staple of chanter reed.

birl. A movement that starts from Low-A, with the pinky tapping to sound Low-G, sounding Low-A, then the pinky immediately and quickly drawn completely across the Low-A hole to briefly sound Low-G then Low-A. This technique is called "tap and pull." Variations in execution include the "7" style where the pinky is passed down over the Low-A hole then pulled across, or a slide method of simply passing the pinky down then up across the Low-A hole.

birl grease. A colloquial reference to lubricating one's pinky with facial oils—such as rubbing the side of one's nose—to ease the finger's quick passage over the chanter's low-A hole when executing the birl embellishment.

blackwood. See "African blackwood."

blade. A piece of curved cane, two of which form the vibrating surfaces of a chanter reed. Also can refer to the vibrating surface of a drone reed. Sometimes called "a tongue."

blowpipe. Used to get air from the piper's mouth to the bag. One end of the blowpipe is fitted with a replaceable mouthpiece and the other is commonly fitted with a flapper valve.

blowpipe stock. A wood (or plastic) cylinder which is secured to the bag and into which is inserted the blowpipe.

blowpipe valve. Sometimes called a flapper valve, this keeps the air from coming back out of the bag through the blowpipe. Traditionally made of leather, commercial valves—such as the Lil' Mac—are made of rubber, plastic and metal. Sometimes fabricated out of electrical tape in a pinch. Also sometimes called a "clack valve."

blue banner. See "Bratach Gorm."

blue book. Part 3 of The Highland Bagpipe Tutor by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston published by the College of Piping, Glasgow, Scotland. Discussion continues where Part 1 leaves off. Traditionally has been printed with a blue cover. Part 1 has a green cover, Part 2 has a red cover.

BMW. (abbreviation) Bagpipe Music Writer. A software program for writing pipe music. Bagpipe Music Writer Gold files end with the suffix ".bww". The older BagpipeMusic Writer files end in ".bmw".

boards. A judging area at a competition. In some cases, it can be raised wooden stage. In others, simply a designated patch of ground.

bole. The top wide part of a chanter above the high-A hole that butts against the chanter stock. Also called the "knob."

bonnet. See "feather bonnet."

Bor Mor. A brand of blowpipe flapper valve. Made by Cushing Bagpipes. Nicknamed the "Big Mac."

border pipes. Conical bore bellows-blown pipes of the Scottish "Border" region.

bore. The opening that passes through the length of a drone or chanter.

box. Often refers to an accordion—"playing the box"—which is sometimes found in celtic folk groups. Sometimes may refer to a bagpipe case.

BPM. (abbreviation) Beats Per Minute.

Braemar. A type of very plain cut doublet jacket, similar to an Argyll. Not as common. Named after Clan Campbell of Argyle/Argyll, a former county in western Scotland. Pronounced "bray-mar."

Bratach Gorm. An prestigious annual competition sponsored by The Scottish Piping Society of London. Translates as "blue banner."

Brazilian rosewood. A wood that is sometimes used for making bagpipes, though not as prized as African Blackwood. The scientific name is Dalbergia nigra.

break down. Failure to complete a tune. Usually in competition. Sometimes seen abbreviated on judging sheets as "BD."

bridle. A ring of material used on reeds to control pitch by changing the amount of vibrating surface. Usually either hemp or a rubberband-like like object. Longer vibrating surface is flatter (lower pitch), shorter vibrating surface is sharper (higher pitch).

bright. A term used to describe a chanter that is easily heard against the drones.

British hallmarking. See "hallmark."

bubble note. See "darado."

bulb. The sloping wide top section of a chanter (below the tenon), which begins at the step above the High-A hole and ends at the stock.

bush. A inner disc of material—usually silver, ivory or a synthetic ivory—that encircles the sound opening at the very top end of a drone. Mellows the sound coming from the drone. A smaller bush opening drops the effective pitch of a drone. Also called a "bushing." Conversely, the outside ring of material is called the "drone cap" or "cap."

Burns Night. An dinner celebrating the birth of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns who was born on January 25th, 1759. The event includes a mini-parade in which the haggis is "piped in" to the main table by a bagpiper and an honor guard. Also called a "Burns Supper" or "Burns Dinner."

bushing. See "bush."

BW. (abbreviation) Black Watch.

BWW. File name extension for Bagpipe Music Writer Gold. Also see "BMW."

by the center. This is a directive from the leader of a band on where the band is to "take their dressing," that is, who to use as their reference for matching their marching footwork. In this case, "the center" would be a drum major marching out in front and center of the band. Also see "by the right."

by the right. This is a directive from the leader of a band on where the band is to "take their dressing," that is, who to use as their reference for matching their marching footwork. In this case, "the right" would be a pipe major, the rightmost and frontmost player. Also see "by the center."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


C. (abbreviation) Common time. Sometimes "C" is used instead of "4/4" to indicate the time signature.

C. (abbreviation) Crunluath. Used in the context of music notation for piobaireachd. Rather than writing out the notes for all the crunluath embellishments in a crunluath variation, a letter "C" is used in combination with a melody note.

caber. A long, very heavy pole used in the Scottish athletic event, caber tossing. The basic objective is to throw the caber end over end, which requires quite a bit of strength. Not usually a piper's activity.

cadence. A short series of notes common in piobaireachd: High-G gracenote to E, D gracenote to B, followed by Low-G gracenote to A. Usually found at the end of a phrase.

cane. arundo donax, native to circum-mediterranean areas but now introduced to temperate regions, is used for making chanter and drone reeds. Not to be confused with bamboo which is not used in piping.

Canmore. A brand of synthetic bagpipe bag made of Gortex.

canister bag. A bag that utilizes a desiccant canister to trap moisture through a series of internal hoses to and from the various stocks. Bag must allow for access via zipper or clamp in order to recharge the dessicant (which is sometimes simply "kitty litter").

canntaireachd. A system for verbal transmission of bagpipe music in which notes and embellishments have been assigned unique sounds and names, such as "Cherede," "Hihorodo," and "Endre." Pronounced "can ter ock." Also see "vocable."

cantle. The semi-circular metal ornamentation found at the top of some sporrans.

cap. See "reed cap" or "drone cap."

Cataline. See "Bakelite."

catch. Another name for a crossing noise, but usually applies to one created by incorrectly changing notes on the same hand. Also see "crossing noise."

caubeen. An Irish cap, which could be described as a larger more puffy beret, sometimes seen with a emblem on the front face and small plume at the crown. Usually worn with the high point either centered over the forehead or over the left eye. Pronounced "kaw-bean," rhymes with "saw-seen."

cauld wind. Bellows-blown.

CBE. (abbreviation) Commander of the Order of the British Empire. A British distinguished honor. Also see O.B.E., M.B.E., B.E.M.

ceilidh. Loosely translates to "party" in Gaelic. Pronounced "kay lee."

celluloid. A type of early synthetic ivory. Developed by John Hyatt in the 1860s, it's one of the first man-made plastics. Sometimes called "French Ivory." It has very regular and evenly spaced lines that appear to be the result of alternating stacked layers, this was intended to give the appearance of ivory. It was used for mounts at one time but replaced by Bakelite in the early 1900s.

cent. A unit of change in pitch, usually used in context of a electronic tuner. 1200 cents equal one octave in the twelve note chromatic scale, 100 cents equals a half step between notes. The value of cent in hertz (Hz) will change depending on where the note is in the scale, but for a chanter can usually be considered between approximately 0.25Hz (Low-A) and 0.5Hz (High-A). The human ear cannot differentiate less than 5 cents.

ceòl aotrom. This rarely used term means "light music" in Gaelic, used interchangeably with ceòl beag. Also see ceòl beag.

ceòl beag. Means "little music" in Gaelic, refers to non-piobaireachd compositions such as reels, jigs, marches, etc. Pronounced "kyawl bake" or "kyawl buck."

ceòl mór. In Gaelic, means "big music," referring to piobaireachd. Pronounced "kyawl more." Also see "piobaireachd."

CGP. (abbreviation) City of Glasgow Police.

CH. (abbreviation) Cameron Highlanders.

chalice top. A less common contoured design for the transition down from the bell to the rest of the upper drone section. Resembles the round nature of a wine glass or chalice vs. a noticeable step.

champion supreme. Some pipe band associations (such as the PPBSO) allow bands to earn points toward a season aggregate championship at specified contests; these contests are referred to as "Champion Supreme" events and the points earned as "Champion Supreme points."

chanter. The portion of a set of bagpipes upon which the piper produces the melody of a tune by opening and closing holes with his/her fingers. Sometimes called a "pipe chanter."

chanter cap. See "reed cap."

chanter stock. A wood (or plastic) cylinder which is secured to the front of bag and into which is inserted the chanter.

choke. The circumstance when the chanter reed stops sounding unintentionally.

chromatic scale. A scale composed of twelve notes.

circular breathing. Used to maintain unbroken sound when playing a wind instrument with no bag/reservoir. The player breathes in through the nose to the lungs while expelling air stored in the cheeks. This can be helpful to a piper when playing a practice chanter as no breaks in the music are necessary.

CITES. (abbreviation) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Typically referring to a mandatory permit to allow international transport of elephant ivory mounted bagpipes, such as "I'm going to Canada, I have my CITES [or CITES certificate] for my old pipes ready to go." One can apply for a permit (often temporary) to allow restricted material to be transported under specific conditions. Pronounced "SIGHT-ease."

clan. A group of families from the same common Scottish Highlands ancestor. Each clan has one or more associated tartans. Also see "tartan."

CLASP. (abbreviation) Competition League for Amateur Solo Pipers. Organized in June 2005 by the National Piping Centre, this league was based on the grading system in use in North America and is intended to fill the gap between juvenile events and those covered by the CPA. Administered and operated by the NPC. The first CLASP events were held August 10-12, 2005 in Glasgow. Also see "CPA."

Clasp, The. While there are other "clasp" events, this usually refers to the annual world-level piobaireachd competition, the Northern Gathering/Northern Meeting traditionally held in Inverness, Scotland but moved to Aviemore in 2005. Only holders of the Highland Society of London's Gold Medal can compete for The Clasp at Inverness, and the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban, both being "former winners" events.

classical music. Another name for piobaireachd. See "piobaireachd."

claymore. A large double-edged Scottish sword usually worn on one's back.

closed bore. A type of non-GHB chanter that is sealed on the bottom end, and only sounds when fingers are raised to expose note holes.

CM. (abbreviation) The Order of Canada, one of the highest honors awarded to a Canadian civilian.

CNC. (abbreviation) Computer numerical control. Seen in descriptions of manufacturing, refers to equipment controlled by computer, such as automated turning of bagpipes or synthetic reeds.

cockade. An ornamental rosette or knot of ribbon found on the front of a balmoral or on the side of a glengarry. For non-civilians, can be used to indicate military or naval service.

cocobolo wood. A wood that is sometimes used for making bagpipes, though not as prized as African Blackwood. The scientific name is Dalbergia retusa.

cocus wood. Commonly from Jamaica, this less-expensive wood is sometimes used for bagpipes, but lacks some of the desirable qualities found in African Blackwood. Its scientific name is Brya ebenus.

cold tuning. A technique where, in advance of a short performance with no warm up and no tuning opportunity, a piper strikes up his or her pipes and immediately tunes with no warm up then stows the bagpipes assembled thereby having the pipes ready to play.

collar. A ring of material, such as rubber plastic, found on a synthetic pipe bag to which a drone stock or blowpipe stock is secured.

College of Piping. Founded in 1957 in Glasgow, Scotland by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston. Sponsors workshops worldwide. Publishes the Piping Times magazine. Host to piping artifacts in their museum. Retail shop on-site.

combing. The fine parallel ornamental ring grooves carved into parts of a bagpipe. Also see "beading."

common time. Another name for the 4/4 time signature. Sometimes seen indicated as "C" or a cent symbol instead of "4/4" on musical notation.

conical bore. A bore that tapers from a small diameter at one end to a larger one at the other end. Also called a "tapered bore." Also see "bore."

COP. (abbreviation) College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland. Also seen abbreviated "C of P." Also see "College of Piping."

cord holder. Located toward the top of each drone, the channel formed by two protruding rings of wood about which the drone cords are fastened.

cords. See "drone cords."

cork. 1) A rubber or cork stopper used to plug either the top of a drone or one of the stocks. 2) Material traditionally used, but no longer common, to cover tenons.

cork off. To plug a drone so that it doesn't sound, such as "Cork off your middle tenor." See "cork."

CPA. (abbreviation) Competing Pipers Association. Based in Scotland, serve professional level pipers. Founded in the mid-1970s.

crit sheet. Short for "critique sheet." Another name for a competition scoring sheet.

cross fingering. Holding one's fingers in a uncommon position in order to yield a note not of the standard nine chanter notes, e.g., C-natural.

cross handed. When a piper plays with the bag side hand lower on the chanter than the other—very uncommon. Typically the arm holding the bag has that hand playing the higher chanter notes. Not to be confused with a left-handed piper, who might hold the bag under the right arm with the right hand playing the top notes, a situation that is not considered cross handed.

crossbelt. Leather belt worn across the chest—top right to bottom left—with the buckle positioned at the right chest.

crossing noise. An undesirable interim note that sounds when changing from one note to another. Most common when changing from a bottom hand note to a top hand note, but can also sound from the same hand. Also see "catch."

crotchet. A name for a quarter note. More commonly used in Europe.

crow. A rough squawking of sorts that sounds on a High-A, the desire for which varies from piper to piper by taste. Can allow the High-A to be heard more easily against the louder drones. Often times can be reduced by blowing harder or lightly sanding the chanter reed blade tips.

crunluath. A combination of grace notes forming an embellishment. Melody note, followed by the gracenotes Low-G, D, Low-G, E, Low-A, F, Low-A then always ending on E. From D, a B note is typically substituted for the D gracing. Common in Piobaireachd, but not light music. In Gaelic, "luath" means "quick." "Crun" is thought to be a variation of "crown." The "king of quick embellishments" perhaps. Pronounced "crun-LOO-ah."

crunluath a mach. In a crunluath a mach piobaireachd variation, a regular crunluath is performed on all notes except for B, C and D from which the crunluath a mach is substituted. This B, C, and D embellishment is described as follows. From B, the following series of gracenotes: Low-G, D, Low-G, B, E, B, F, B, ending on E (done with an open-B until the final E)—in other words, a B-grip followed by an edre on an open-B until closing it on the final E). From C, the following series of gracenotes: Low-G, D, Low-G, C, E, C, F, C, ending on E (done with an open-C until the final E)—in other words, a C-grip followed by an edre on an open-C until closing it on the final E). From D, the following series of gracenotes: High-G, B, D-throw, E, D, F, D, ending on E (executed on a held D after the D-throw until the final E). (Yes, long and convoluted, best consult your instructor or book.) Pronounced "crun-LOO-ah ah mahk."

crunluath breabach. Same as the crunluath, with an addition of two notes, depending on context. (Full details would be long and convoluted, consult your instructor or book.) Pronounced "crun-LOO-ah BRAY-buhk".

crunluath doubling. A piobaireachd doubling variation that is played with crunluaths on each theme note. Usually appears at or near the very end of a piobaireachd tune.

crunluath fosgailte. There's four of these, each starting different but each ending with the crunluath ending, that is, gracenotes: E, Low-A, F, Low-A to E theme note. 1) Himdandre is: High-G, Low-G, D, Low-A plus ending. 2) Hintodre is: Low-A, D, B plus ending. 3) Hindodre is: High-G, D, C, plus ending. 4) Hindadre is: High-G, Low-A, D, plus ending. (Yes, long and convoluted, best consult your instructor or book.) Pronounced "crun-LOO-ah FOSS-kiltch".

CS. (abbreviation) Champion Supreme. See "Champion Supreme."

CTS. (abbreviation) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A painful wrist/hand condition that afflicts some pipers.

cuff. A separate piece of attire that is slipped over the top of the hose to accentuate the folded portion of the hose. Perhaps most commonly takes the form of a "popcorn top." Also see "popcorn top."

cut. An old and less common name for a gracenote.

cut note. The companion note to an adjacent dotted note in beat. For more expression, often the dotted note is lengthened and cut note is shorted more than mathematically indicated by the score.

cut off. The instant at the end of a tune when the drones stop sounding. A clean cut off is when the chanter and drones instantly go from in pitch to silent. Also see "trailing drones."

cut out. The circumstance when a reed stops sounding, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


D-throw. An embellishment, also called a "throw on D". The so-called "light D-throw" is more common: melody note, followed by gracenotes: Low-G, D, C, ending on melody note D. The "heavy D-throw" is: melody note, followed by gracenotes: Low-G, D, Low-G, C, ending on melody note D.

DABM. (abbreviation) Director of Army Bagpipe Music. A post created in 1968 at The Army School of Bagpipe Music in Scotland.

darado. A somewhat rare embellishment. Melody note followed by gracenotes: Low-G, D, Low-G, C, Low-G to the ending melody note. Sometimes called a "bubble/bubbly note." Pronounced "DAH-ra-do."

dare. A very quick movement found in piobaireachd. Played as an F gracenote on/to E followed by a G gracenote on E and up to F. Basically a backward E-doubling, that is, played with the F and G gracenotes reversed. Pronounced "dar-A."

day wear. Informal attire. In the case of a sporran, a plain style such as tooled leather. Also see "evening wear".

day wear plaid. An unpleated/unsewn piper's plaid folded to reduce the length by half, then folded the short direction in half twice to one quarter of it's original width. This is placed over the left shoulder with the fringed end hanging down at the front. Basically, a blanket folded and thrown over your shoulder. Not to be confused with a "fly plaid." Also see "fly plaid".

DCM. (abbreviation) Distinguished Conduct Medal.

deburring tool. A metal tool used to carve out chanter holes. Sometimes used to fine tune a hole after filing with a riffler file. Also see "riffler file."

Delrin. This synthetic (acetal resin, polyoxymethylene) is used as a replacement for traditional wood in the manufacture of bagpipes and practice chanters. Delrin is a registered trademark of DuPont. Also see "Polypenco."

dial manometer. See "manometer."

dicing. A checkerboard-like pattern found on glengarries, bonnets and hose, typically of alternating two or three colors. Red and white is a very common pattern as is red, white and navy blue.

dirge. A funeral song or tune. Comes from the first word in a Latin funeral rite. Used by some pipers as a derogatory term, such as "that wasn't a lament, that was a dirge." Pronounced "derj."

dirk. A long knife, though not a sword, usually worn at the right hip. Considerably larger than a sgian dubh.

dismount. An optional personal series of notes or short melodic phrase added by the performer after the tune itself being played is complete. Liked by some pipers as a whimsical indicator to the audience/judge that a tune is complete, disliked by others as a distraction from an otherwise graceful performance.

dithis. The name applied to a piobaireachd variation if it meets the following criteria: Each long theme note is followed by a short low-A. The long theme note is preceded by a G gracenote unless it's high-G (thumb gracenote) or High-A (no gracing). The short low-A is preceded by an E gracenote, except E and F (G gracenote), high-G (thumb gracenote), and high-A (no gracing). A dithis variation is played in a pointed manner. In Gaelic, "dithis" means a pairing of two men. Pronounced "JEE-ish." Also see "dithis doubling."

dithis doubling. The name applied to a piobaireachd variation if it meets the same criteria as a dithis, but instead of a short low-A being played, a short repeat of the theme note is played. "Dithis" is pronouced "JEE-ish." See "dithis."

double echo beat. A strike followed after a brief pause by slightly longer strike to the same note, giving the impression of "call and response."

double gold medalist. Winning the Gold Medal at Oban and Inverness in the same year. One such piper is John Cairns who claimed both events in 1999, not an easy feat.

double reed. A reed with two blades such as a chanter reed. (Drone reeds are single reeds.)

double tone. A condition at strike-in whereby a drone reed sounds at a higher pitch until full pressure is applied and it settles into its final lower pitch.

doublet. A close-fitting formal jacket. Also see "Montrose doublet."

doubling. 1) The embellishment of a melody note. With exception of the High-A doubling, composed of a High-G gracenote, followed by a gracenote (same as note being embellished) then followed by a gracenote of a specific higher pitch (such as D, E, F, G) and ending on the melody note. 2) A type of variation on the ground of a piobaireachd. ("Doubling of the ground.")

dre. A very quick movement found in piobaireachd. Played as an E gracenote on/to Low-A followed by a F gracenote on Low-A and up to E. Pronounced "dray."

dressing. 1) When marching, a band addresses to (or "takes its dressing from") an individual, usually the drum major or pipe major, from whom it takes direction on footwork. Also see "by the center" and "by the right." 2) Another name for "seasoning."

drone cap. A disc of material—usually silver, ivory or a synthetic ivory—that rings the outside edge of the top end of a drone. Also see "bush."

drone cords. Rope-like material, with tassels on the two ends, used to secure drones into position.

drone lock. An informal reference to the condition of drones being perfectly tuned.

drone valve. Typically placed at the base of the drone stock inside the bag to help regulate air through the drones, the intent of these is to stabilize changes in bag pressure with regard to the drone reeds, so the piper has steadier sound and easier starts and crisp stops. Volume is reduced slightly. Only practical with a zipper or clamp-back bags.

drones. The three large wooden "tubes" tied together by cords on a set of great highland bagpipes, each continually plays a single note.

drum major. The individual with the mace at the front of a marching band. Yells commands, leads the band. Band follows his command though he will often take his lead from the pipe major. Abbreviated "DM."

drum sergeant. Lead drummer in a band, other drummers their drumming specific cues from this person. Sometimes also called a "lead stroke," or "lead drummer." Often seen abbreviated as "DS."

drummer's plaid. A large squarish fringed piece of tartan material that is draped over the left shoulder with a brooch at the front, attached at the waist in the rear and secured by buttoning a hidden loop to the epaulet button. Smaller than a full plaid and larger (longer) than a fly plaid. A full (piper's) plaid could interfere with drum harnesses and as such are sometimes not worn by drummers, though some bands require their drummers to wear a full plaid regardless. Also known as a "half plaid."

dry stock. See "reed cap."

DS, D/S, D.S. (abbreviation) Drum sergeant.

duty sash. A wide piece of fabric (often red) worn around the waist or diagonally across the chest from the left shoulder to the right hip in pipe bands. (Originally used to hold sword scabbards, military units wear the sash from the right shoulder to the left hip.) Usually worn by the drum/pipe sergeants and drum/pipe majors. Also see "baldric."

Dycem®. A "non-slip" synthetic sheet ("Non-Slip Reel") used in patches on the exterior of bag covers to prevent slipping. To apply, either hand sew or temporarily place wax paper over it when using a sewing machine. Non-toxic. Cleans with soap and water when it loses its stickiness. DycemShop

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


EC. (abbreviation) Executive Committee, as in the governing board of an association. Includes executive members such as a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, registrar, past president.

echo. A less common term with the same meaning as "tap" or "strike." Also see "strike" or "double echo beat."

edre. A movement. A melody note followed by these gracenotes: E, Low-A, F, Low-A to E. Always ends on melody note E.

elk hide. Cow hide has been treated using "elk tanning process." (Not from the elk animal.) Commonly used for bagpipe bags.

embellishment. A gracenote or combination of gracenotes that accent the following melody note. Since the bagpipe cannot vary the loudness of notes, embellishments are used to emphasize aspects of the melody instead.

end plug. A long plug located at the unseated end of a synthetic drone reed, which is slid in or out to adjust the pitch of the reed and is usually held in place by friction. Found on Ross brand drone reeds, for example. Most synthetic reeds use a threaded plug called a tuning screw. Also see "tuning screw."

engraving. Taking a less presentable tune manuscript and creating a polished-looking tune sheet. As in "music engraving."

epaulet. On military-style jacket, an adornment (like a pad) on the shoulders usually in a contrasting color to the fabric of the jacket. Often seen bordered with fringe.

epaulet strap. On a dress jacket, a strip of fabric with one end sewn into the seam where the sleeve meets the shoulder and the other end fastened by a button near the collar.

ESA. (abbreviation) Endangered Species Act.

EUSPBA. (abbreviation) Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. Publishes "The Voice" magazine.

evening wear. Formal attire. In the case of a sporran, a more elaborate style, such as animal fur with polished metal top. Attire typically includes a formal jacket and tie. Also see "day screw."

expression. As in "expressing" the tune. Since bagpipes cannot alter the volume of the notes or introduce silence, and to be true to the tune you cannot change the notes, the only thing left is holding notes longer or cutting them shorter to enhance the feel of the tune, such as exaggerating the "swing" of a tune. Done properly, this altering of the note values gives the tune more expression.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


false fingering. Playing a note with the correct top hole open, but at least one or more lower holes either open or closed incorrectly, yielding a note that can sound slightly or substantially off.

feather bonnet. A type of tall headwear (about one foot, 30cm high) usually adored with lots of black feathers, typically worn only with elaborate military piping regalia. This was once worn by Highland regiments, but has fallen out of use in the modern military and is only seen in bands.

Feis Bharraigh/Feis Barra. Founded in 1981 with the mission to promote the practice and study of the Gaelic language and culture (including piping) in the Islands of Barra and Vatersay. Classes and workshops are offered for all ages. Events are now held throughout Scotland.

ferrule. Metal rings located at the end of a stock or drone cylinder to keep the wood from swelling and splitting; usually composed of nickel, silver, ivory or a synthetic ivory.

file. Refers to a band in formation, a line of players arranged one behind another, front to back. Also sometimes called a "column." (As opposed to a row or rank.)

Fireside Pipes. A brand name of parlor pipes made by Gibson.

fitness stamp. See "hallmark."

flapper valve. See "blowpipe valve."

flashes. Much like little flags, these bits of fabric (commonly matching or color coordinating with the kilt) hang out from under the top of hose, on the outside of the calf and are held in place with a garter.

flat. A note is considered flat if it is below (deeper sounding than) the expected pitch.

fly plaid. This plaid is made from a roughly square fringed piece of tartan (40"x40" and 40"x52" are sizes you may see), stitched in one corner which is pinned at the front of the shoulder while the rest is "thrown" over the shoulder and hangs at the back. Not usually attire for a band. Smaller than a drummer's plaid. Also see "drummer's plaid" and "mini fly plaid."

FMM. (abbreviation) Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. A Grade I band based in Northern Ireland.

foot. The bottom end of a chanter (at the sole if it has one), opposite of the bulb/stock end.

forked A. Another name for a High-A note played with the F finger down, the G and E fingers being the "prongs of the fork." Also known as a "piobaireachd High-A."

forked G. Another name for a High-G note played with the F finger down, the G and E fingers being the "prongs of the fork." Also known as a "piobaireachd High-G."

forked movement. Refers to either a High-A or a High-G note played with the F finger down, the G and E fingers being the "prongs of the fork."

fosgailte. "opened, unbarred, unbolted" in Gaelic. Seen in context such as "crunluath fosgailte." Pronounced "FOSS-kiltch." Also see "crunluath fosgailte."

fraser vest. A leather sleeve that when placed around a synthetic bag gives the bag the feel of a hide bag instead of what can otherwise might be considered a "floppy" feel.

French Ivory. See "celluloid."

full dress. A very elaborate uniform worn for special events which includes kilt, feather bonnet, spats, horse-hair sporran, piper's plaid, dirk, cross-belt, doublet.

full-mounted. Refers to when all the ivory/synthetic/silver/wood ornamentation on the projecting mounts, ferrules and bushes are made of the same material.

full plaid. See "piper's plaid."

fundamental. Short for "fundamental frequency." See "harmonic."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


GDE. A common series of gracenotes used in faster tunes.

GH. (abbreviation) Gordon Highlanders.

GHB. (abbreviation) Great Highland Bagpipes.

gillie brogues. A type of footwear worn by pipers. Appears at first glance to be a dress shoe with the tongue removed. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as "gillies" which in Scottish means only "young boy." Pronounced "gill-ee bro-gs."

glengarry. A type of headwear, a brimless hat, with flat sides, is pleated from front to back and folds flat along that axis. Often seen with a metal badge on one side and two ribbons that dangle at the back. May or may not have checker dicing along the bottom edge.

goose. A type of bagpipe with only a chanter and no drones, used for practice. One can make a goose of a full set of bagpipes by plugging the drone stocks.

goose adapter. This fitting allows the bottom half of a practice chanter to connect to the chanter stock of a full set of pipes. This along with plugging the drones, creates an easily played goose out of a full set of pipes.

goose neck. Refers to the front of a pipe bag which, rather than having a straight edge for the full length of the top of the bag, curves down toward the opening for the chanter stock. A goose neck may also be longer than a regular neck.

grace note. A very quick note used to embellish the note which follows either a melody note or another gracenote. While indicated on piping sheet music as a 1/32th note, these notes take no time mathematically with regard to the beat. The beam on these notes always points up, unlike melody notes where the beam always point down.

grade. A competence level applied to competing pipers. Grade 5 is the lowest grade and in many associations is competition with the practice chanter only. Grade 4 is beginning piper (about 75% of competing pipers never graduate from this grade), followed by Grade 3, Grade 2, and Grade 1. Beyond Grade 1 is "professional," the non-amateur classification. Grading is determined by, or registered with, a piping association.

great music. Another name for piobaireachd. See "piobaireachd."

green book. Part 1 of The Highland Bagpipe Tutor by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston published by the College of Piping, Glasgow, Scotland. Basic introduction to playing the bagpipe. Traditionally has been printed with a green cover. Part 2 has a red cover, Part 3 has a blue cover.

grenadilla wood. (abbreviation) Another name for African Blackwood. See "African Blackwood."

grip. Modern name for "leumluath" movement. See "leumluath."

ground. The initial part or "main theme" of a piobaireachd tune. In Scottish, called the "urlar."

gut buster. Slang term for a very hard chanter reed.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


HA. (abbreviation) High A. Somewhat uncommon in usage.

hackle. Bird plumage used as an accessory to headwear.

haggis. A form of Scottish sausage historically stuffed with oatmeal and meat of questionable origin, i.e., animal guts. These days, they are often made of better materials!

half-doubling. A doubling executed from High-A or High-G, in which the usual G gracenote is necessarily omitted.

half-mounted. Refers to when all the ivory/synthetic/silver/wood ornamentation on the projecting mounts, ferrules and caps are not made of the same material. Usually less costly than a full-mounted set of pipes.

half plaid. See "drummer's plaid."

hallmark. A series of stamps found on valuable metals, such as silver, from the UK. Instituted by King Edward I in 1300. These symbols attest to the quality of the metal, the location where the metal was tested, the identity of the metal smith/sponsor, and the year of testing. Sometimes called "British Hallmarking." The U.S. and Canada use a different system involving fitness stamp which serves a similar though much less informative function.

harmonic. A fundamental (or "fundamental frequency" or "first harmonic") is the lowest frequency (longest wavelength) in a sound (note) generated by a musical instrument, such as a bagpipe chanter or drone. Also produced are "overtones" (higher order harmonics), which are quieter, higher frequencies of "integral multiples" (multiplied by integers/whole numbers) of the fundamental such as "x2", "x3", "x4", etc., the first of which is the "second harmonic" which is two times (2x) the frequency of the fundamental. Notes an octave apart will be either 1/2x or 2x of each other, e.g., a chanter high-A frequency will be two times that of chanter low-A frequency and chanter low-A frequency will be one half of that of a properly tuned tenor's A.

head. The playing surface of a drum.

heavy D-Throw. See "D-throw."

heel balm. A home-made wood putty used by some pipemakers, usually a mixture of African Blackwood and an adhesive. It is used to fill defects in a bagpipe. One such less honorable use is to fill up gaps between a bagpipe part and its matching outside piece (ferrule, ring cap), the gap created by over-turning the wood until it is too small. A high quality new bagpipe would not require this fix as the pieces would correctly match.

hemp. Heavy string used to hold adjustable parts of the bagpipe in place, such as at the base of a chanter reed or on the drone sliders. Once placed, is often referred to as "hemping," e.g., "The hemping of your drone pin is loose and must be redone."

hemp stop. The raised area at the very end of a tuning pin just past the tenon which serves as the upper barrier for the hemping. (The lower barrier being the main body of the tuning pin itself.) Can be simply part of the wood of the pin or can be a second piece made of wood, ivory, plastic, metal, or other material. If a pin features a metal tuning slide, usually a hemp stop made of a separate piece is required.

Hertz. Cycles per second, a description of frequency of vibrations. In terms of acoustics, number of sound wave cycles per second. Used to describe the pitch of a note, which can be measured with a sound meter, or "tuner." Also see "tuner."

HG. (abbreviation) High G. Somewhat uncommon in usage.

high hand. The hand (usually the left) that covers the top four holes on a chanter, but can also refer to the notes affected by that hand, that is E, F, G, High-A.

HLI. (abbreviation) Highland Light Infantry.

hop jig. A quick type of tune with the time signature of 9/8. The basic rhythm is three groups of a quarter note and an eighth note. While technically a different class of tune, often still referred to as "slip jig". Also see "slip jig."

hornpipe. A type of music. In piping, this term does not refer to the rare old instrument of the same name. Usually in 2/4 time.

hose. The long socks worn by pipers, traditional styles require folding over twice at the top. Also called "kilt hose."

hose tops. Pipers "partial socks" that cover the leg from below the knee to the ankle. Intended to be used with everyday socks that are hidden with spats. Also see "spats."

HSL. (abbreviation) Highland Society of London.

Hz. (abbreviation) Hertz. See "Hertz."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


imitation ivory. A class of materials used as substitutes for expensive or illegal ivory for ornamental mounts on bagpipes. Commonly plastic, but sometimes natural items such as the Carolina Palm Nut.

Institute of Piping. A collaberation of The Piobaireachd Society, The Army School of Bagpipe Music, The College of Piping, and The Piping Centre. Puts forth a standardized piping certificate program. The Institute of Piping continues to exist as a subgroup of the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board with responsibility for solo piping.

Inverness. A city in Scotland, long-time home of the annual Northern Meeting. The Northern Meeting was held in Aviemore in 2005. Also see "Northern Meeting."

IPBA. (abbreviation) Irish Pipe Band Association.

Irish war pipes. Virtually identical to the Great Highland Bagpipes, but has two drones (bass and single tenor) instead of a three drones.

ISO. (abbreviation) Instrument Shaped Object. A slang derogatory term used to describe a set of bagpipes, chanter, or practice chanter which performs poorly, typically originating from the Pakistan.

ivory. Used for ornamental mounts on bagpipes, this material comes from a variety of animal tusks such as elephants and walruses. Elephant ivory is controlled by international treaty so some pipemakers use tusks from the extinct mastodon as a source instead. Also see "CITES."

IvoryPlus. A natural ivory substitute, the Carolina Palm Nut grows on the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. Sometimes tagua nuts can also be used, but are typically too small for projecting mounts on bagpipes.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


jabot shirt. Old-style shirt with lace material hanging from the neck to mid-chest in a waterfall-like fashion, with long lace trim at the wrists.

jacobite shirt. Old-style collared loose-fitting shirt that closes with a drawstring at the neck, with sleeves the bunch up with extra fabric at the the wrist. Typically made of muslin.

jig. A type of tune with a quick beat, usually in 6/8 time.

joint. A connection between sections of the bagpipe.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


Kenmore. A type of doublet (jacket). Not as common.

kilt. The traditional attire of the Scottish Highlands. The modern "half-kilt" is composed of a long length of plaid material that is pleated and bound just above the waist. Sometimes intentionally used incorrectly as a verb, such as "Many men were 'kilt' for calling it a dress."

kilt hose. See "hose."

kilt pin. An ornamental pin worn at the lower right corner of the open end of your kilt's apron. Commonly seen are miniature swords with an integrated clan badge, but there are a myriad of designs. The pin is only clipped through the apron and not through the inner layers.

kirking the tartan. A church service involving a tartan procession into the church, a prayer service and a recessional utilizing bagpiping. This purely American ceremony was contrived Reverend Peter Mashall in the early 1940s in Washington D.C. It's original function was to promote bonds to finance the Allied war effort.

kit. Refers to items necessary for a performance, such as bagpipes, kilt, hose, brogues, glengarry, etc. In context, the use could be something along the lines of "the band doesn't provide anything, you have to provide your own kit."

kitchen pipes. A small quiet bagpipe of sorts, basically a practice chanter fitted to a bag with some rudimentary drones.

kitchen piping. Bagpiping with a loose-knit group of people, perhaps a one time "jam" session, perhaps with a selection of instruments that is not traditionally played with the pipes. Can also mean a solo piper who "pushes the envelope" and plays with revolutionary approach that might be frowned upon by traditionalists.

knob. The top wide round part of a chanter above the high-A hole that butts against the chanter stock. Also called the "bole."

knock out. 1) to stop the sound, as in "knocking out" a drone or a chanter, by dropping the pressure or plugging; 2) a competition format, a knock out competition, where competitors are paired and the winner advances to face other winners, while the loser is eliminated from the competition.

KOSB. (abbreviation) King's Own Scottish Borders. One of the oldest regiments of the British Army, raised in 1689.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


LA. (abbreviation) Low A. Somewhat uncommon in usage.

lance corporal. First level of supervision over "regular" pipers and drummers in a band, each of whom would be considered a "private." Subordinate to a "corporal" and any member bearing a title with the word "sergeant" or "major" in it. Looks after any small jobs that the Pipe Sergeant or Drum Sergeant have issued (or indirectly issued by the Pipe or Drum Majors). Also called a "Pipe Corporal." [Note: There's some contention regarding pipe corporal vs. corporal vs. lance corporal, I'm looking into this and will be updating this entry at some point.]

lathe. A machine that spins a length of wood around its shortest axis so that it may be shaped with various gouges and other tools. Used by a turner to create each part of the bagpipe. Also called a "wood lathe."

Lawrie. A brand of bagpipes. Pronounced "Low-ree" where "low" is pronounced like "how."

LD. (abbreviation) Lead Drummer. See "drum sergeant."

lead drummer. See "drum sergeant."

lead stroke. See "drum sergeant."

lead tip. See "drum sergeant."

leumluath. Also called a "grip." Series of notes: melody note, Low-G, D grace note, Low-G, back to melody note. Pronounced "lem-loo-ah."

LG. (abbreviation) The Low G note. Somewhat uncommon in usage.

light D-throw. See "D-throw."

light music. Any tune that is not a piobaireachd. Sometimes referred to as "ceol beag," meaning "little music" in Gaelic.

Li'l Mac. A brand of blowpipe flapper valve, a capped black plastic tapered cylinder that fits into the bore at the base of the blowpipe.

Lilypond. An open-source (free) music typesetting program available for a variety of computer platforms. A bagpipes specific Lilypond extension exists by the name of "".

lips. The top edges of the opening to a chanter reed.

low hand. The hand (usually the right) that covers the bottom four holes on a chanter, but can also refer to the notes affected by that hand, that is Low-G, Low-A, B, C, D.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


mace. The shoulder-high decorative staff, ornamented with a metallic sphere at the top, carried by a drum major and used to signal the main body of his/her band.

manometer. An instrument used to measure pressure in the terms of "inches of water." A typical set of bagpipes will require between 20-40 inches of water to sound. A dial manometer looks like a gauge and simply fits into the top of one of the drones—or attached to a hose so one can pipe and view the gauge at the same time. A water manometer is a long tube partially filled with water of which one end is fitted to the top of one of the drones. (Elsewhere on this site: How to Make a Bagpipe Water Manometer.)

MAP. (abbreviation) Musical Appreciation and Presentation. A competition format for lower grade bands (4A, 4B, Juvenile) introduced by RSPBA in 2006. This format limits the repertoire of tunes from which competing bands may pick and specifies the organization of heats as well as the judging process.

march. 1) (noun) A type of tune. 2) (verb) To walk in an organized fashion, typically with the rest of a band.

march past. See "massed bands."

mark. Another name for "version," used with a number after the "mark," usually in roman numerals, such as "Brand X chanter, mark III." These different versions are typically in a series over time and may or may not be noted as such by the manufacturer. Abbreviated "Mk."

massed bands. A combined performance of two or more (but usually all available) bands at some event. Also called a "march past" in Scotland.

Maxville. In Ontario, Canada, this is the location of the North American Championships.

MBE. (abbreviation) Member of the Order of the British Empire. A British distinguished honor. A lesser honor than OBE. Also see "BEM" and "OBE."

MCS. (abbreviation) Moisture Control System. See "moisture control system."

medley. A series of tightly unified tunes played as at one time.

melody pipe. A less common name for a chanter. See "chanter."

metric value. Refers to the mathematical time that a played note takes in terms of a musical score. For instance, gracenotes have no metric value, that is, they are not counted in a bar toward the total time for the bar—mathematically, they are considered to take no time. (Gracenotes have musical value though.) Melody notes do have metric value.

metronome. An instrument for keeping time when practicing. Old mechanical style included a metal rod which would tip left and right from a pivot point at the bottom. More accurate modern digital metronomes include flashing indicators, a reference tone, volume controls and other features.

midsection. The tenor drummers and bass drummer in a pipe band.

Military Medal.
The Military Medal was a UK military decoration awarded between 1916 and 1993 to over 135,000 individuals for bravery in battle. Recipients of the Military Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "MM".

military pleating. See "stripe."

MIM. (abbreviation) Made in Middle East. Not common, but sometimes seen. Usually in reference to bagpipes made in Pakistan.

mini fly plaid. A long piece of tartan material—approximately a foot wide by 4-1/2 feet long—that is draped over the left shoulder with a brooch at the front, attached at the waist in the rear and secured by buttoning a hidden loop to the epaulet button. Somewhat uncommon. Also see "fly plaid."

Mk. (abbreviation) Mark. See "mark."

MM. (abbreviation) Military Medal. See "Military Medal."

moisture control system. A device of various designs, often including hoses and canisters, placed into a bagpipe bag and attached to one or more stocks to prevent excessive amounts of moisture reaching the reeds in a bagpipe.

Montrose doublet. One particular style of doublet, this is a close-fitting formal jacket with a large fabric panel covering the chest, held in place by vertical rows of buttons on the left and right. Napoleon Bonaparte is often depicted wearing one of these.

mounts. In the most basic sense, the items "mounted" to the wood on a set of pipes, that is, the trimmings. Includes the ferrules, the bushes, the ring caps, the projecting mounts. Also see "projecting mounts."

mouth. The opening located at the top of a chanter reed, formed by two opposing pieces of cane.

mouth piece. A tubular piece of wood or plastic that screws onto the threaded end of the blowpipe and fits into the piper's mouth.

M.S. (abbreviation) Manuscript. Typically referring hand-written sheet music.

M.S.R. (abbreviation) March, Strathspey, Reel. Common combination of tunes played in competition.

M.S.S. (abbreviation) Manuscripts. Typically referring hand-written sheet music.

MWPBA. (abbreviation) Midwest Pipe Band Association (United States)

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


Naill. A shortened version of David Naill & Co. bagpipes. Pronounced "Nile" like the river.

National Piping Centre. A year around bagpiping school based in Glasgow, Scotland.

neck. The narrow portion of a chanter near the High-A hole.

Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational. An amateur bagpiping invitational competition held in the Massachusetts annually. Founded in 1982 by PM Donald F. Lindsay and named to honor piobaireachd icons Robert U. Brown and Robert B. Nicol, the "Bobs of Balmoral." [website]

Northern Meeting. A high profile annual games and competition founded in 1788 that is held traditionally in Inverness, Scotland. Moved to Aviemore for the first time in 2005 due to renovations at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.

Northumbrian small pipes. These bellows-blown pipes feature a closed cylindrical chanter for which you raise a finger to sound the note. The most common chanter for these pipes is an F-chanter (F-Major scale) and has eight finger holes and seven keys. Chanters of other pitches are also made, such as in C, D, and G and sometimes with 9, 11, or 17-keys.

NPC. (abbreviation) National Piping Centre. See "National Piping Centre."

NRV. (abbreviation) Non-return valve. Used in the blowpipe to prevent air from escaping back out from the bag. See "blowpipe valve."

NSP. (abbreviation) Northumbrian Small Pipes. See "Northumbrian small pipes."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


Oban. A town in Scotland, home of the Argyllshire Gathering. Also see "Argyllshire Gathering."

OBE. (abbreviation) Officer of the Order of the British Empire. A British distinguished honor. A greater honor than MBE. Also see "BEM" and "MBE."

open note. An undesirable note in which a finger is incorrectly raised on a hole below the top open hole. For instance, an "open C" would mean the piper has the low-A hole open instead of correctly closed with his/her pinky finger.

open piper. "Open" in this context refers to the grade status of the piper. "Open" is the top grade, also known as "professional." Also see "grade."

overblow. To blow harder than normal which can cause a number of problems such as drones shutting off and/or causing the high hand to become too sharp, particularly High-A. With some non-GHB pipes, can mean blowing a chanter harder to reach a second octave.

overtone. See "harmonic."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


P&D. (abbreviation) See "Piper & Drummer."

Paki. (abbreviation) Made in Pakistan, a country which has a questionable reputation for quality. As in "Paki pipes." While this term is considered derogatory in the UK, it is not considered so in the United States.

parlor pipes. Mouth-blown Highland smallpipes (a scaled-down highland bagpipe).

PB. (abbreviation) Pipe band.

PBA. (abbreviation) Pipe Band Association, can refer to any of the many associations, depending on context.

PBAS. (abbreviation) The Pipe Band Association of Scandinavia.

PC. (abbreviation) Practice Chanter or sometimes Prince Charlie (as in Prince Charlie jacket and vest).

PCPBA. (abbreviation) Pacific Coast Pipe Band Association. Formed in 1963 with two branches to cover northern and southern California, the name was later changed in the 1980s to WUSPBA when Utah and the mountain states were added.

PDQB. (abbreviation) Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. See "Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board."

PEI. (abbreviation) Prince Edward Island. Location of the second College of Piping in Canada, which is affiliated with the original COP located in Glasgow, Scotland.

pibroch. A somewhat accepted misspelling of piobaireachd. See "piobaireachd."

pick up note(s). A note or short series of introductory notes preceding a part of a tune, and usually do not compose a complete bar of music. Most commonly found at the beginning of a tune. These notes are not included in any repeat of the part.

Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board. This board is composed of The Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming, The College of Piping, The National Piping Centre, The Piobaireachd Society, The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. There are seven Certificates of Piping ability, four Certificates of Pipe Band Drumming ability, three Certificates in Pipe Band Studies and two Certificates for teachers of Piping.

pinning. Using a pin (small headed nail) to secure a ferrule or other metal fitting to the wood of a set of pipes. Typically used if threading is not used to secure the piece in place. More commonly seen on vintage bagpipes or on Pakistani-made bagpipes, though also seen rarely on modern Western-made pipes.

piob. Means "a pipe" in Scottish.

pìob mhór. Means "a bagpipe" in Scottish. Pronounced "peep vore." You may also see "a' phìob-mhór" which means "the bagpipe" and is pronounced "uh feep vore."

píobaire. Means "pipe player" in Scottish. Pronounced "PEEP-uh-thuh."

piobaireachd. (noun) Used to describe the traditional music of the pipes, sometimes referred to as "the classical music of the pipes." Composed of a ground (or "urlar") which is the first part of the tune, followed by doublings and or variations which substitute embellishments or phrases for those that appear in the ground, then the tune returns to end with the ground or a portion thereof. (Some piobaireachds call for the urlar to be played between each doubling/variation movement.) Complete piobaireachd tunes typically run 6 to 15 minutes in length. Sometimes referred to as "ceol mor." In Scottish, the term "piobaireachd" roughly means "bagpipe music" or "bagpiping." Pronounced "pee-brock."

piobaireachd G. A slightly flatter high-G note often times used then playing piobaireachd, which is sounded like a typical high-G but altered by holding the F hole closed with the top hand middle finger.

piobaireachd high-G. See "Piobaireachd G."

PiobMaster. A brand of bagpipe music notation software made by CeolMor Software. [website]

pipe banner. A fabric flag, usually emblazoned with one or more symbols—such as a crest—which is attached to the bass drone. Typically used only in instances of formality. Earliest known use is in the mid-1700s military, though it may have preceded that.

pipe chanter. See "chanter."

pipe corporal. See "Lance Corporal."

pipe major. Head piper and leader of a pipe band. Often seen abbreviated as "PM." Usually marches in the frontmost, rightmost position.

pipe sergeant. Pipe major's right-hand man. Normally assists in tuning, teaching, etc. Fills in when pipe major is absent. Often seen abbreviated as "PS", "P/S", or "P/Sgt".

piper. Shorter version of "bagpiper."

Piper & Drummer. A quarterly piping magazine published in Canada in connection with the PPBSO. In 2006, P&D editor Andrew Berthoff decided to make the magazine an online-only publication at

Piper's Pal. A humidity regulation system for reeds made by Kinnaird Bagpipes, introduced in the 2000s, originally took the form of sectioned clear cylinder. One version was for chanter reeds, another for cane drone reeds. Not long after, a sophisticated chanter cap, the Piper's Pal Reed Protector, followed which integrates a humidity regulation system for the seated reed. Included in the cap system is a rubber-tipped rod which is inserted up into the chanter to seal the reed from air circulation. In 2005, the original cylinder was replaced by a flat blue plastic "wallet" and a larger cylinder tailored toward bands. The cane drone reed model was discontinued. [website]

piper's plaid. A very long length of plaid material wrapped diagonally around the chest area and hung over the left shoulder down to about 6-8 inches off the ground. Used with formal dress. Also known as a "full plaid."

pipes|drums. An online news magazine run by Andrew Berthoff. Founded in 2006, grew from the website of Piper & Drummer print magazine which was discontinued that year.

pipey. A nickname for a pipe major.

Piping Times. A monthly piping magazine published by the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.

pitch. (noun) The sharpness or flatness of a sound, describing the frequency of the sound waves. A low pitch would be like a rumbling bus motor, a high pitch would be like a bird chirp. Also see "Hertz."

pitch creep. The gradual rise in typical competition band pitch over the years. In the 1960s, low-A was usually under 470Hz. In the 1990s, it was over 470Hz. After the year 2000, it has increased so that some bands compete even at 480Hz.

plaque. See "reed plaque."

plaid. 1) Fabric woven of differently colored yarns in a perpendicular pattern. Pronounced "plad." Not all plaids are tartans. 2) Long, rectangular piece of fabric usually worn over the left shoulder. Pronounced "played."

playing up. In competition, if an individual or band competes in a grade level more advanced that the grade of which they are part, this is considered "playing up," e.g., A registered Grade IV player competes in a Grade III event at a games. Rules vary association to association, some prohibit playing up and restrict a player/band to a predetermined grade.

plumber's tape. A generic name for Teflon (PTFE) tape. Sometimes used to help seal various joints on a bagpipe.

PM, P/M, P.M. (abbreviation) Pipe major. See "pipe major."

pointed playing. Where every 2 or 4 beats is held slightly longer than the notes in-between, slightly altering the tune from what is written to increase contrast of notes. This term usually applies to jigs, reels and strathspeys, such as "pointed jig." Also see "round playing."

Poly. (abbreviation) Polypenco. See "Polypenco."

Polypenco. This synthetic (a polymer) is used as a replacement for traditional wood in the manufacture of bagpipes and practice chanters. Polypenco is a registered trademark of Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products, Inc. Also see "Delrin."

popcorn top. A pronounced "checker board" texture weave at the top of hose. Typically a separate piece of attire (a cuff) that is slipped over the top of the hose, but may also be integrated into the hose itself. Also see "cuff."

port. Simply means "tune" in Gaelic.

port mór. In Gaelic, means "big tune," sometimes seen in older texts, usually refers to piobaireachd. Also see "piobaireachd."

post-nominal letters. Letters found after an individual's name indicating he or she is the recipient of an award, such as MBE for Member of the British Empire and CM for Order of Canada.

POTD. (abbreviation) Piper of the Day. An honor sometimes awarded to the most successful competition piper at a games, in a particular grade or otherwise.

PPBSO. (abbreviation) Piper's & Pipe Band Society of Ontario.

practice chanter. A small simple mouth blown double-reed instrument (similar to a recorder) with the fingering of a full set of Great Highland Bagpipes. Used for practicing fingering and learning new tunes. Often seen abbreviated as "PC."

practice pipes. Mouth-blown bagpipe with small diameter brass tube drones and chanter.

Prince Charlie jacket. A formal jacket, commonly black or navy in color, high cut at the waist with large long button-adorned flaps in the back. Three large silver buttons adorn lower length of the sleeves and also left and right of the abdomen running approximately vertically. Usually worn with a matching vest.

professional piper. 1) A bagpiper making his/her living from bagpiping. 2) A competing bagpiper in the highest competing grade, also called an "open piper." Also see "grade."

projecting mounts. The trim on the drones that sticks out—typically of wood, silver, ivory, or imitation ivory.

PS, P/S, P.S., P/Sgt (abbreviation) Pipe sergeant. See "pipe sergeant."

PS. (abbreviation) Piobaireachd Society. And in context could refer to the piobaireachd sheet music books compiled and published by the Piobaireachd Society, e.g., "That tune is in PS."

pull-through. A piece of fabric attached to a cord. Used for oiling drone bores.

pumpkin mounts. A nickname for projecting mounts that have discolored with age from off-white to to a deep yellow or orange.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


QMM. (abbreviation) Quick March Medley. A series of march tunes used in competition.

quartermaster. Band Title. Individual responsible for the safety and accounting of a band's equipment. Arranges orders of new supplies as necessary. Can make available to the members a list of the minimum items and potential sources for those items needed to be in uniform. Attends all band officer meetings. Reports to the other officers.

quaver. Another name for an eighth note.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


rank. Refers to a band in formation, the line of players arranged side by side. Also called a "row." (As opposed to a file.)

reamer. A tapered hand tool, appears much like a spike, used to broaden the bore of reed seats to allow a reed to sink deeper into the bore.

red book. Part 2 of The Highland Bagpipe Tutor by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston published by the College of Piping, Glasgow, Scotland. Discusses instrument maintenance, including reed selection and bag tie-in. Traditionally has been printed with a red cover. Part 1 has a green cover, Part 3 has a blue cover.

redundant A. An additional Low-A that was played by some pipers in various embellishments but has fallen into disuse. Some controversy exists regarding the use or absence of this note.

reed. (noun) A object with a vibrating surface that produces sound. One type is located in each of the drones, and another type is located in the chanter.

reed cap. A cover placed over a seated chanter reed to protect it while the chanter is removed from its stock. Sometimes called a "dry stock," "reed protector," or a "chanter cap."

reed plaque. More commonly used for oboe or basson, a shim that slips in between the blades of a chanter reed to support them while scraping or carving. Commercial basson plaques—unlike oboe plaques—can be used for chanter reeds and are also available illuminated so that the thickness of a blade can be more easily determined.

reed protector. See "reed cap."

reed seat. The tapered hole located at the very top of the chanter or at the base of the drones into which fits a reed.

reel. (noun) A type of quick tune, usually in 2/2 time.

reel pipes. See "border pipes."

regimental. The condition of not wearing any undergarment under one's kilt, e.g., "It's going to be scorching tomorrow, I'm going regimental."

REME. (abbreviation) Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Part of the British Army. Pronounce "ree-mee."

repousse. A technique of hammering designs into metal as an alternative to traditional engraving (removing/carving out material) typically seen in silver ferrules and slides.

rest. A period of time in a music piece where the instrument makes no sound. This can come up in conversation, but is impractical for bagpipes since the sound must be constant unless one cuts out the whole instrument.

Retd. (abbreviation) Retired. Also seen abbreviated "Rtd." For example: "Piper Major (Retd.) Gavin Stoddart."

retreat. A type of 3/4 march tune, historically played when one wanted your battling troops to turn around and escape the enemy.

RHF. (abbreviation) Royal Highland Fusiliers

riffler file. A metal "rat-tail file" tool with curved ends which is used to carve out chanter holes. Sometimes leaves a rough edge which can be finished off with a deburring tool. Also see "deburring tool."

ring cap. A round piece of material (often plastic, metal, ivory, horn or decorative wood) which encircles the top of a drone. The material typically matches the bush which is inserted into the top of a drone.

RMMB. (abbreviation) An Internet newsgroup, where users post messages, available through an Internet service provider's "news" server or though the web on's RMMB page. This service has fallen out of favor with the on-line piping community.

rodin. A grip-like embellishment using B when coming from a C or D to a Low A. Played as melody note followed by gracenotes Low-G, B, Low-G to Low-A. Pronounced "ROE-din."

roll-off. A series of drum rolls that precedes the strike-in by a band. Also see "strike in."

round playing. Where the notes on the beat are not held out longer than the notes in-between the beats in any noticeable fashion, that is, the notes are "even" or equal value. This term usually applies to jigs, reels and strathspeys, such as "round jig." Playing a tune "round" can also mean evening out different valued notes so that they are more equal, for instance, reducing contrast been a dotted eighth and an adjacent sixteenth note. Also see "pointed playing."

row. Refers to a band in formation, the line of players arranged side by side. Also called a "rank." (As opposed to a file.)

RSM. (abbreviation) Regimental Sergeant Major.

RSPBA. (abbreviation) Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.

Rtd. (abbreviation) Retired. For example: "Piper Major (Rtd.) Gavin Stoddart." Rarely, but sometimes also seen abbreviated "RTD."

rubber stopper. See "cork."

rush. A wire or similar object inserted into an acoustic chamber (such as the interior of a drone reed) to alter the associated pitch. Sometimes, but very rarely, used in piping.

RVM. (abbreviation) The Royal Victorian Order. This medal is awarded in three classes: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Officially titled "The Gold Medal of the Royal Victorian Order", "The Silver Medal of ...", etc. All three classes are shortened to RVM. An award presented by the Royal Family of England.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


S/I. (abbreviation) Silver and Ivory. Usually referring to mounts on a set of pipes.

sash. See "duty sash."

SCA. (abbreviation) Society for Creative Anachronism. Not a piping organization, but this group of people dressing up and reenacting various time periods (usually middle-ages to 1700s) will sometimes include pipers and as such, come up in conversion.

Schreger pattern. A series of crossing lines found in real ivory which can be used to identify which animal the ivory came from. Different animals have different crossing angles. Sometimes called "Schreger lines."

scrape. Using a sharp edge to remove small amounts of material from the blades of a chanter reed to either ease the reed or modify its playing characteristics.

Scottish Piping Society of London, The. Based in London, this charity organization was founded in 1932 to promote the GHB in the region. Sponsors the annual Bratach Gorm competition.

season. (verb) To add a substance to the bag to control moisture and act as a fungicide.

seasoning. (noun) Substance added to a hide bag to help make it airtight while allowing for controlled escape of moisture, and act as a fungicide. Honey was once commonly used as a seasoning.

seat. See "reed seat."

seconds. A second arrangement of a tune played by a piper (or some small number) in a multiple piper setting that typically includes harmonies or otherwise enhances the main body of the tune. A complex band tune can also include thirds, fourths, etc.

semibreve. Another name for a whole note.

semiquaver. Another name for a sixteenth note.

SEOS. (abbreviation) Somewhere East of Suez. An old British derogatory term used describe a set of bagpipes, chanter, or practice chanter originating from the Pakistan or India.

service band. A band affiliated or sponsored by agencies such as police, sheriff, fire, or military organizations.

set. A few tunes that are consistently played together as a group. These groupings can be decided by any individual and are not predetermined by an association or other entity, though some competitions require a series of specific types of tunes, such as an MSR.

Set, The. A competition band reference. "The Set" refers to a band's MSR.

sett. One "unit" of the repeating tartan pattern. "To the sett," one of two ways how a kilt can be pleated, means the kilt shows the entire tartan pattern when in resting position (overlapping pleats). As opposed to "to the stripe." Also see "stripe."

setting. A version of a tune.

SFU. (abbreviation) Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. A Grade I band based in British Columbia, Canada.

SG. (abbreviation) Scots Guards. Usually refers to one of the SG volumes of pipe tune settings, can be seen in context of "SG 1" or "SG 2", for example. The Scots Guards is a UK military regiment that in 1953 standardized hundreds of piping tunes by publishing their "Standard Settings of Pipe Music."

sgian dubh. A small knife worn in the sock of a piper. Literally translated it means "black knife," though many believe "black" referred to "hidden" or "bad" instead of its color. Sometimes seen spelled "sgean dubh" or "sqian dubh" or "skean dubh." Pronounced "skeen doo."

SH. (abbreviation) Seaforth Highlanders.

shake. A less common term with the same meaning as "tap" or "strike." Also see "strike."

sharp. A note is considered sharp if it is above (higher sounding than) the expected pitch.

sheep skin. One of several materials commonly used for bagpipe bags. Requires frequent seasoning, usually lasts 18-24 months, allows moisture to escape quickly from the bag.

shell. 1) The cylindrical support of a drum to which the beating heads are attached. 2) Less commonly, the body of a chanter.

Sherifmuire. A type of doublet. Not commonly seen these days.

shoulder. The area across the central portion of the exposed cane on a chanter reed. On a ridge cut reed, the shoulder is quite pronounced.

shuttle pipes. Bagpipes characterized by drones being integrated and enclosed into a single cylinder about a foot long with sliding tabs for tuning.

side. (Abbreviation) Side drum. See "snare drum."

side drum. See "snare drum."

signature. See "time signature."

Silver Star. Former winners MSR event held at the Northern Meeting.

single reed. A reed with just one blade, such as a drone reed. (Chanter reeds are double reeds.)

siubhal. The name applied to a piobaireachd variation if it meets the following criteria: long low-A, B or low-G note is followed by a short theme note. The long note is preceded by a G gracenote. The short theme note is preceded by an E gracenote, except E and F (G gracenote), high-G (thumb gracenote), and high-A (no gracing). A siubhal variation is played in a round manner (even note values). In Gaelic, "siubhal" means a moving or traveling and can also mean dying. This variation was once called the "siubhal sleamhuin," that is, "smooth movement." Pronounced "SHOO-ul." Also see "siubhal doubling."

siubhal doubling. The name applied to a piobaireachd variation if it meets the same criteria as a siubhal, but instead of a long low-A being played, a short note same as the following theme note is played. "Siubhal" is pronouced "SHOO-ul." See "siubhal."

siubhal sleamhuin. An older name for the siubhal piobaireachd movement. See "siubhal."

skilt. A coined term for a kilted skirt, a women's clothing item.

skirl. 1) (verb) To play the bagpipe. [general public]; 2) (verb) squealing, as in "it's unstable, it tends to skirl on low-A" [piper-specific]; 3) (noun) The sound of a bagpipe, a shrill cry [public].

slainte. A toast of sorts, in Gaelic meaning "health," "to your health," "to good health." Used much like a Brit might use "cheers."

slide. See "tuning slide."

slip jig. A quick type of tune with the time signature of 9/8. The basic rhythm is three groups of three eighth notes. Also see "hop jig."

slow air. A slow type of tune, sometimes used in a sense synonymous with "slow march," other times it's used to describe a tune with which you can take liberties with the tempo, such as holding notes beyond what would be appropriate to maintain the beat. Also see "slow march."

slow march. A slow type of tune, sometimes used in a sense synonymous with "slow air," but it is generally accepted that you have to maintain the beat and not take liberties with the tempo. Also see "slow air."

slur. Sliding a finger off of (or onto) a hole to gradually raise (or lower) the pitch to another note.

small pipes. A bellows-blown (though sometimes mouthblown) set of bagpipes with very thin diameter drones and chanter. The drones share a common stock and can sometimes include a baritone drone as well as a tenor and bass. Typically played from a sitting position.

snare drum. High pitched drum that maintains the beat, played in a horizontal position with two hard drum sticks. Gets its name from the rattling snares strung across the bottom head.

sock top. See "cuff."

socket. Another name for reed seat. See "reed seat."

sole. A disk-like adornment at the bottom of a chanter, usually composed of ivory, imitation ivory, or silver.

sound box. The space inside of a reed that is located between the top of the binding and the shoulder.

sound holes. Holes located on the left and right sides of the chanter below the Low-G hole. Also called "vents."

Spanish cane. Scientific name: arundo donax. Used for the manufacture of cane chanter reeds and cane drone reeds. Also used for reeds in oboes and clarinets.

spats. Worn over the shoes and extend above the ankle, typically white in color with buttons up the side. Usually only worn with elaborate highland attire.

SPBA. (abbreviation) Saskatchewan Pipe Band Association. Also referred to the Scottish Pipe Band Association, now called the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA).

SPSL. (abbreviation) The Scottish Piping Society of London.

sporran. A purse-like object worn in front of a kilt. Dress sporrans, such as a horse hair sporran, do not always have storage space.

springing. As in "springing a tongue." On a cane drone reed, sometimes if the reed does not sound easily, if the tongue is sprung (or pulled up and released) it may remedy the problem. Is often not recommended on a synthetic drone reed, but depends on the tongue material.

SPSL. (abbreviation) Scottish Piping Society of London.

SR. (abbreviation) Strathspey, Reel. Combination of tunes played in competition, though not as common as the MSR. Also see "MSR."

SSP. (abbreviation) Scottish Small Pipes. Also see "small pipes."

staggered entry. A case where rather than a band all beginning a tune at the same time, there are one or more addition points in the performance where other band members join in. Builds to a climax as the additional pipers add both complexity and volume as the performance progresses.

stand. More or less, another name for "set," used in context, "a stand of pipes."

staple. The cylindrical/conical piece of metal at the base of a chanter reed, typically copper or brass that provides a support for the blades.

static grace note. A grace note in a movement that is sounded when lowering a finger other than the finger associated with that note, for example, the "E" grace note in an E doubling. As opposed to a "active grace note." This somewhat uncommon term is seen in The College of Piping Tutor For The Highland Bagpipe: Part 3. Also see "active grace note."

STB. (abbreviation) Scotland the Brave. Extremely common piping tune.

steward. An individual responsible for coordinating a single competition event, typically one is assigned to a particular "boards" or judging area.

sticks. Refers to a set of drones, stocks and a blowpipe. New sets of bagpipes can often be purchased as just "sticks" to which you would add your own bag, chanter and reeds.

stock. A collar (typically wood, but sometimes plastic) that is attached to ("tied into") the bag into which fits either the blowpipe, chanter or drones.

stopper. See "cork."

strathspey. A type of dance tune, has a very heavy "swing." Usually in a 4/4 time signature. Pronounced "straths pay."

street band. A band that doesn't compete, may or may not be involved with its regional association.

strike. A quick "slap" (sounding a grace note) with one or more fingers to a lower note then back up. Also called a "tap" or "hit" and more rarely a "shake" or "echo."

strike-in. The action of striking the bag in conjunction with blowing to start the drones before playing.

stripe. One of two ways how a kilt can be pleated. To the stripe means the kilt shows the main stripe of the tartan at the edge of each pleat when in resting position (overlapping pleats) instead of showing the complete tartan pattern. Sometimes referred to as "military pleating" and is a little more common with bands. Depending on the tartan, some kilts pleated to the stripe may show an entirely different color when pleats are swinging open. Also called pleating "to the line." As opposed to "to the sett." Also see "sett."

suite. A single tune composed of parts of different style elements, for example a tune that starts with a slow air and moves into hornpipe passage then into a strathspey. Not to be confused with a medley or set composed of different tunes.

SUSPBA. (abbreviation) Southern United States Pipe Band Association.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


T. (abbreviation) Taorluath. Used in the context of music notation for piobaireachd. Rather than writing out the notes for all the taorluath embellishments in a taorluath variation, a letter "T" is used.

tachum. A short B or C note followed by a D gracenote down to a lower note. Pronounced "tay-kum."

tam. A broad brimless, and somewhat formless, hat of Irish/Scottish origins. Drapes off to one side or to the back, much like an oversized French beret. In 1791, Robert Burns wrote a poem titled "Tom O'Shanter" from which this gets its name. Also called a "tammy" or a "tam o'shanter."

tam o'shanter. See "tam."

tammy. See "tam."

taorluath. A combination of grace notes forming an embellishment. For example: melody note, followed by Low-G, D, Low-G, E, then ending on a melody note. In Gaelic, "luath" means "quick." Pronounced "tar-loo-ah."

taorluath a mach. Only executed from B, C and D. (Full details would be long and convoluted, consult your instructor or book.) Pronounced "tar-loo-ah ah-mahk"

taorluath doubling. A doubling variation that is played with taorluaths. Term applies to piobaireachd tunes.

tap. See "strike."

tap off. To cause a drone to stop sounding due to temporary back pressure. One reaches up and blocks the opening (a long tap) at the top of the drone which silences the drone reed.

tartan. A specific pattern of plaid associated with a particular clan. Clans can have multiple tartans such as "ancient," "modern," or "hunting." Also see "plaid."

tassel. Found on each of the two ends of drone cords, these fabric bell-shaped ornaments with hanging fringe keep the cords from coming undone. Also see "drone cords."

tenon. Each section of a bagpipe fitting that is covered with hemp: the tuning slides, the base of the drone/blowpipe that fits into the stock, the top of the chanter. This comes from a general woodworking term describing a cut into the end of a piece of wood.

tenor drone. One the two short drones on a set of bagpipes, when tuned sounds exactly one octave lower than Low-A on the chanter.

tenor drum. Medium pitched drum, while held in a horizontal position played with two fuzzy mallets that are typically twirled with flair by the drummer.

themal note. Refers to a note, not gracing another note, that is part of the "theme" of the tune. An "important" note in the tune that would significantly alter the tune if removed.

thick. As in a "thick note." A note that is slightly and intentionally flat, such as might be used on high-A. Used in context: "I like my high-A a little thick."

third hand. A tuning aid for beginning pipers, this device fits onto the chanter to cover the B-C-D holes allowing the lower hand to be free to tune the drones to low-A.

throat. 1) The section of the bore in a chanter between the reed seat and the high-A hole. 2) The middle section of a chanter reed. See "sound box."

throw on D. See "D-throw."

tie-in. (verb) To cut holes and attach stocks to a bagpipe bag using some type of cord material. As in "Tie-in a bag."

time. See "time signature."

time signature. Every written tune indicates the time signature at the beginning of the tune by a fraction. The top figure indicates the number of beats in a bar. The bottom figure indicates the length of the note that constitutes each beat, which is expressed in fractions of a whole note. For example, 2/4 indicates two beats in each bar with a quarter note equaling one beat; 6/8 indicates six beats in each bar which an eighth note equaling one beat.

toggle. A small leather tassel of sorts that is found at the end of laces on gillie brogues.

tone. A state of a set of pipes being in perfect harmony. Such as "playing tone."

tone box. See "sound box."

tongue. The vibrating surface of a reed.

TOS. (abbreviation) Tam O'Shanter. See "tam."

tourie. A small decorative ball found on the top of a glengarry, typically either red or black in color.

trailing drones. The undesirable situation when the drones gradually drop in pitch at the end of a tune rather than simply going silent. Also see "cut off."

transcribe. To rewrite a tune. Often, to take a tune meant for one instrument and rewrite it to work for another instrument.

trap. See "water trap."

trews. A style of full-length tartan trousers. Derived from the Scottish word "Triubhas" which means "trousers."

triplet. Three notes that are given the value of one beat. Indicated on sheet music by an arch linking the first and third notes with a small "3" indicated underneath.

tune. 1) (noun) A piece of music. Music for the bagpipes are not typically referred to as "songs." 2) (verb) To adjust a drone or the position of a hole in a chanter to achieve the desired pitch.

tuner. A device that registers a sound's pitch (or frequency), usually in Hertz (Hz). Used to tune the drones to the chanter or set the chanter pitch.

tuning phrase. A series of notes used to determine if the bagpipes in tune. For a solo piper, this could be a short but complex series of random-sounding notes. For a band, it could be a simple note or two followed by the full scale.

tuning pin. A thinner diameter portion of the drone over which an upper portion of the drone fits and adjusts for tuning. Less commonly called a "slider."

tuning screw. A threaded insert at the unseated end of a synthetic drone reed that alters the pitch of the reed when screwed in or out. Invented by Mark Wygent as an alternative to the tuning/end plug. Also see "end plug."

tuning slide. A metal ornamental decorative sleeve that slides over a tuning pin. Serves only a cosmetic function.

tuning string. Another less commonly used name for a thread bridle on a cane reed.

turner. An individual who carves out bagpipe parts on a lathe. Also see "lathe."

turning. The action of carving a bagpipe part while it is rotating on a lathe. Also see "lathe."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


uilleann pipes. Irish bellows driven bagpipes. A full set is complex with a myriad of drones and regulators. The chanter can produce two full octaves. Pronounced "ILL-un."

undercut. To scrape/carve the underside of the top edge of a chanter hole to raise the pitch of that particular note.

Utilikilt. A brand of inexpensive plain (no tartan) nontraditional kilts tailored to non-pipers, e.g., construction workers.

urlar. See "ground."

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


valve. See "blowpipe valve" or "drone valve."

variation. A part in a piobaireachd tune where some notes or embellishments are substituted for others that appear in the ground/urlar. A piobaireachd many have several variations and/or doublings. Also see "piobaireachd."

vents. Holes located on the left and right sides of a pipe chanter below the Low-A hole and sound the Low-G note. Also called "sound holes."

vocable. A human speakable word-like group of sounds associated with a note or group of notes. Can be either a formal system or spontaneous usage. For instance, when singing along with a tune "dum dee dum bum" would be considered vocables, as the canntaireachd is also considered. Also see "canntaireachd."

Voice, The. A quarterly bagpiping publication of the EUSPBA.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


war pipes. Usually short for Irish War Pipes. See "Irish war pipes."

water manometer. See "manometer."

water trap. Either a rudimentary device (such as a cork with a metal tube passed through it) placed in the base of the blowpipe stock or a more elaborate tubing system with a canister filled with desiccant. Used by wet blowers or in humid environments.

wet blower. A piper who introduces a lot of moisture to the bag when playing, sometimes requiring a water trap or bag that permits moisture to evaporate easily, such as a sheepskin bag. Also see "water trap."

wheel. A turn executed by a band in which the players on the inside of the turn march with a smaller stride and the outer players march with a longer stride in order to maintain a straight row.

WPA. (abbreviation) Washington Pipers Association. Washington State, USA.

WUSPBA. (abbreviation) Western United States Pipe Band Association.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ


Xylonite. A trade name (of David Spill Co., later renamed British Xylonite UK) for cellulose nitrate, a plastic discovered in 1862, first called Parkesine and lastly Celluloid, depending on the manufacturer with their minor composition differences. Rarely used, if at all, due to its highly flammable nature. Often confused with Zylonite (cellulose acetate) which largely replaced Xylonite.

Zylonite. A trade name for cellulose acetate, a plastic developed in 1894 as a non-flammable replacement for cellulose nitrate. Can be used for mounts instead of ivory. Commonly used in modern eyeglass frames. Sometimes see as abbreviated "Zyl."

Zebrawood. A trade name for African Blackwood.

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ

If you have comments or suggestions for this page, please contact me.

This page last updated Friday, July 28, 2023
Page first created in November 4, 2001.

top of box
Kinnaird Bagpipes & Reeds - Play what the pros are playing

bottom of box