For the most recent tunes:
July, 2017, The Pyper of Avalon
June, 2017, Jig on the Rock and Dr Lindsay Davidson
March, 2017, Song who writes Himself and Lammerlaw
Feb, 2017 An Beannachd and Lochend
December, 2016, Leprechaun in the Glen, go here
November, 2016, Letter of Comfort, go here
August, 2016, L'Chaim go here , Jacqueline Irving, gohere,

Favourites

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David & Eilidh's Welcome to Wilton

A 6/8 March for a couple coming from the USA to live in our area, with deliberate echoes of the iconic Dr Ross’s 50th Welcome by Donald MacLeod

Mrs Lois Collett

A Reel. Mrs Lois Collett of Invercargill, New Zealand was the youngest (equal!) of the Irvings of Taieri (Otago, New Zealand), and has had a lifelong interest in music, particularly Church music

Return of the King

The tune has at least three layers of meaning, and predates the movie by many years. It is intended to convey the excitement as the king approaches and almost turns into a dance at the end

Sir Robert Beaufin Irving

A hornpipe. Sir Robert Irving was an historical figure, with a long and distinguished maritime career in the British Royal Navy, and captaining the Queen Mary

SIBELIUS

Have you ever heard the pipes played digitally? Don't cringe too much - it sounds less synthetic than you might expect. The three tunes below were composed and played on Sibelius - a computer program used to professionally compose and write music. The notated music can then be played with various stored music sounds including bagpipes. Sibelius had 650 instruments available at last count, including a bagpipe chanter, and drone. Unlike conventional Pipe notation, the music must be created in a key, in this case A Major. The notation of gracenotes can be complex for the more florid ornaments, but they are amazingly uniform compared with the struggle a live performer has. The advantage of the system is that it has a rather greater pitch range than conventional, eg., one of the pieces in this collection reaches high C#. It is also possible to create chromatic notes not in the original scale. The Scary Pensioner is an example but shows why this has been traditionally avoided – discordance is worse than usual. The match of Drone and Chanter volume proved poor, and impossible to adjust. This was because an unvarying loudness has been programmed in. The only solution was to have a "quartet" of pipers playing the melody in unison above the drones to give 4x the volume. Interesting, but live performance has much greater clarity. Other programs dedicated to bagpipe imitation are said to be much more accurate and pleasing. Three Sibelius examples are in this section.

The Scary Pensioner

Written in Sibelius to celebrate my wife's new pensioner status. The scary nature of the piece - Briar can be a bit scary - comes from the chromatic scale, impossible on real bagpipes

Briar's Reel

Composed for my wife Briar

Maria of the Snows

The non-digital version of this tune can also be found in the “people” section, along with explanation. (Useful for comparison)

Events

Church Picnic

Capturing the fun at Hope Centre's picnic at Catchpool, Eastern Bays Regional Park on a windy summer's day

Eastern Hutt School Centenary

For my old primary school, Lower Hutt, New Zealand. To reflect the skipping of children and the tedium of rote-learning

Ceol Alba's 5th anniversary

Ceol Alba is a group of predominantly Scottish fiddlers, led by Lynne Scott, meeting regularly in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Bagpipes are inappropriate, but I decided to celebrate its five years with a hornpipe. The 2nd pdf is a fiddle version

Flock House

Flock House was an agricultural training centre near Bulls in the North Island, NZ, 1924-1987 - now a conference centre. Originally it was a “thank you” to British seamen who kept New Zealand exports viable during WWI. Their dependants were trained there and settled on New Zealand farms. The jig was written during a communications training course run by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research late last century

New Tartan

This piece celebrates the production of a new personal tartan by Dr Bruce Irving, Bonshaw, about the turn of the century

Laird of Whitehorse

A 2/4 march. Whitehorse is a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and the piece celebrates a controversial seminar held there

Tom Little

Dr Tom Little served as an optometrist with the International Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for more than 30 turbulent years. I met him during a visit to Kabul in the late ‘90s. In 2010, returning to Kabul after doing a remote eye clinic, he and seven other foreign aid workers with him were murdered then robbed. (2nd pdf is an instrumental version)

Pipe Major Masaharu Hoshi

Bagpipes and bands are rare in Japan, though Toyota has sponsored one. Professor Masaharu Hoshi of Hiroshima University led a disparate group of scientists for several years in a variety of projects. On his 2011 retirement, I declared him an honorary “Pipe Major” of the group and wrote the tune for him

The Irvings of New Zealand

Jacqueline Irving

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Miss Jacqueline Irving is the daughter of Mr A. Irving of Waimatua, and a well-regarded secondary school teacher in Dunedin.

George Irving

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

This piece was written in 1974 for the funeral of an uncle on my mother's side and played on the hill above his house near Dunedin. George had a transport business. The tune was modernised this year.

Catherine's Reel

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Named after my cousin Mrs Catherine Hoekendijk nee Irving. A very talented musician and co-pastor of Harmony Church in Christchurch.

Mr David S. Irving of Little River

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

A march for a talented NZ artist specialising in classic vehicles, aeroplanes, historic buildings, and portraits. David Irving is a member of the British Guild of Motoring Artists.

Mr A. G. Irving of Waimatua

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

A long-time dairy farmer near Invercargill, and my cousin, he has a remarkable collection of restored vintage motors, and produces his own wine and cheese.

The New Zealand Irvings

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

A conventional strathspey, celebrating that part of the diaspora living in New Zealand

Julian's March

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Julian’s march completes a series written for 3 brothers and a sister. The other two are The New Irvings and Miss Kristina Irving

Mrs Shirley Irving

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

The late Mrs Irving was of Christchurch

The New Irvings

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

This celebrates the latest generation of Irvings, specifically brothers Jonathan and Eliot Irving who changed their names to reflect their lineage. Both married in the late ‘90s. Since they both now have children, the piece perhaps needs to be updated!

Mrs Hilary Reid

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

This tune celebrates my cousin, a former weaver of Irving tartan. She lives near Taneatua in the Bay of Plenty

Mrs Anne MacLeod

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Ann, my cousin has lived for several decades on a farm near the seaside area of Brighton, south of Dunedin, New Zealand

Ms Kristina Irving

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

This jig is named after a niece who is an excellent horse-woman. It imitates the hoofbeats of a galloping horse.

Oran An Beatha

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Yet to come

Mrs Pearl Harvey

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

My Aunt, recently deceased in her nineties, was a long-time resident of Mosgiel

Mrs Doris James

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

A 2/4 March. One of my late Irving Aunts. Of all my aunts she had the most pronounced Southland accent

Mrs Jessie Irving

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

Mrs Jessie Irving, my Aunt, long-time resident of the Taieri plain near Mosgiel. A strathspey

Mrs Lois Collett

Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead Irving pipetunes by Neil Whitehead

A Reel. Mrs Lois Collett of Invercargill, New Zealand was the youngest (equal) of the Irvings of Taieri (Otago, New Zealand), and has had a lifelong interest in music, particularly Church music

People

The Pyper of Avalon

A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday

This tune is dedicated to Miss Piper Sercombe (a relative by marriage) of Avalon, a suburb of Lower Hutt. It imagines that the Arthurian Island of Avalon had a pyper, an antique form of the modern word.

Dr Lindsay Davidson

A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday

Dr Davidson is Clan Piper of the Davidson Clan and composer of many pieces. He also gained the first Ph.D. in piping!

'Song who writes Himself'

A reel. Guess Who?

2020th Birthday

A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday

We commemorate his birth but never his birthday! So - in celebration of His birthday.

Mrs Moira Sligo

This slow air, unusual in form, celebrates my cousin and a lifetime in Oamaru (NZ).

Two Finnish Ladies

A bagpipe tune lamenting deaths of agency workers in Afghanistan A bagpipe tune lamenting deaths of agency workers in Afghanistan

This piece is in memory of two Finnish women working with an NGO in Herat, Afghanistan. They were killed by gunfire in 2014, after a lifetime of service to the people of that country. Their taxi was attacked, and it seems the driver was also killed. The men were arrested.

Briar the Brave

Briar is my wife, and this outrageous piece in irregular time is the attempt of Scotland the Brave to keep going in spite of her!

Maria of the Snows (A flamenco jig)

A flamenco jig on the Highland Bagpipe A flamenco jig on the Highland Bagpipe

We had a Spanish English language student staying with us, whose full name was a mouthful: Maria de las Nieves Ruis de los Panos Martin de Vidales. (She had numerous problems with bureaucracies!) There were so many Marias in Spain, she said, that she preferred to be called Maria de las Nieves, Maria of the Snows. This poetic name almost demands a pipe tune! It sounds more like a flamenco as it proceeds, but is rather easier than it sounds

Pipe Major Brian Jackson by Don Sargent

Brian Jackson was Pipe Major of the Hutt Valley Pipe Band. This tune was written in the early ‘60s (roughly) and played at a Pipe Band Contest but through modesty called a “traditional air”! It does not seem to occur in published collections of Don Sargent’s music, but seems to me well worthy of it

Rev. Dr Ross Wards

This tune celebrates a more than 50 year association with Ross, who was in the Hutt Valley High School Pipe Band and Hutt Valley Pipe Band with me. He had a long vocation in the Anglican Ministry, remained an adherent of piping, and was known for his enthusiasm for the pipe organ. His doctorate was in Scottish Culture

Laird of Lanark

Haydn Carmichael, a Melbourne lawyer, gathered a group of colleagues to explore a proposed mining project. We declared him honorary Laird of Lanark (his ancestral area) with this pipe tune

The Gillies

The Gillies are my cousins. Now retired from teaching careers they are installed in Omarama, an area in the South Island particularly famous for gliding.

Others

Jig on the Rock

The safest jig must be on the strongest rock.

An Beannachd

"An Beannachd" means "The Blessing"; a very important and neglected part of life

Lochend

Lochend was the traditional name of a little village near Dumfries said to be the dwelling of the Arthurian Lady of the Lake.

Lammerlaw

A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday A pipetune commemorating Jesus Birthday

The tune is named after the Lammerlaw range in Otago, New Zealand, rolling hill country crowned with golden-brown tussock..

Leprechaun in the Glen

Jigs are both Scottish and Irish; and this pictures an elusive, magical creature in Scotland

Letter of Comfort

A "letter of comfort" is a declaration by a city council that some unpermitted building activity will not be prosecuted. What might a heavenly equivalent of this be like?

L’Chaim

L’Chaim means “To Life!” and is the traditional toast for Israelis. It is clearly the best celebratory toast to him who is Life!

March of the Fat Friars.

A lightweight ¾ piece. These overweight monks of very unsteady pace and gait are heading off to a retreat. They are clearly short of breath, and one appears to tread on a companion’s foot. Fortunately there are more grace notes as the piece progresses. This piece is best played with a hard reed prone to squeal!.

Sun on the Corn

My wife Briar supplied this very apt title. A March.

All-night Route March

This depicts the epic all-night marches of Abner and Joab with their wounded after a fierce battle (2Sam: 2)

Lap from the Linn

Psa 100:7 He drinks from any stream he has to cross, then charges forward triumphing (Moffat). Linn is a Scottish word for the plunge-pool of a waterfall.

March On O My Soul

This rather heroic sounding title is taken from Judges 5 which is a kind of victory song sung by Deborah and Barak who fought against Sisera the Field Marshall of Jabin the King of Canaan, and won an overwhelming victory.

He Dances on the Lake

This piece is nominally a hornpipe, but has four-note groups which are more typical of some Celtic Fiddle writing. They could be interpreted as a twirl. If Someone once walked on water ... why wouldn't he dance on a lake?

Machowl’s Rant

A rant is supposed to be an intense, long-continued speech, perhaps dance, or possibly playing of an instrument under the grip of a strong (often negative) emotion. A good example is the pipe tune The Cameronian Rant. In Western classical music, the tarantella can be of this type.The surname above is actually Irish, and the music is apposite there, if anywhere. The name is also a Israeli word for “dance”. The piece is unlike any other rant I have been able to find, in that it is in ¾ time and sounds something like a wild reel

The Boiling Cauldron

Jig

Life-giving Pipes

The bagpipes? But in the words of an old Japanese-American Christian teacher “even a rusty pipe can deliver life-giving water without feeling proud”. The piece exploits extensively a rare but fairly easy ornament comprising a Taorluath with an extra note added

The Loch Ness Monster’s Cold

This piece (a march) arose from a friend's remark that bagpipes sounded like the Loch Ness Monster with a cold. So the piece is composed to sound like that. Coincidentally the recording technique produced a flattened low G which could easily be the honking sound of nasal passages getting a good cleanout!

He pipes, I dance

This jig is dedicated to Dr Ewen McCann, one of the best Highland dancers in New Zealand, his late father, Mr Bruce McCann being one of the best pipers. Dr McCann already has at least two other pipe tunes named for him.

Reelity

There is a fundamental invisible dance to reality. This is why there is something rather than nothing

The Lord of the Jig

If there is a Lord of the Dance, there must be a Lord of the Jig!

The Rock of Scotland

Slow air. Rock underlies Scotland as The Rock undergirds us

Sarayu

Sarayu is a mythical underground river in Eastern mythology mentioned by William P. Young, author of The Shack, and is his symbol for the Holy Spirit.

Mitzi

A jig commemorating the life of our loveable, active and slightly dim-witted ruby-red cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It travels over the available range rather like she did – somewhat mindlessly

Revival of The Belfast Hornpipe

This is an echo and altered setting of a known tune called The Belfast Hornpipe

Graceless

The tune is almost unique because it has no gracenotes whatever. So, what's the result? Graceless? You judge!