Here are some tunes suitable for a wedding entrance, or a stately
Here are some traditional
wedding pieces I adapted for the bagpipes:
Bridal March - so many folks have asked about this, I decided to
make a recording so folks could see if they liked it on the pipes. What
do you think?
Bagpipe Voluntary - Some
customers requested the "Trumpet Voluntary" for their
upcoming wedding. Well, it's not quite Masterpiece Theater, but
here it is!
Water Music, Handel
Ode to Joy - the theme from
Beethoven's Symphony #9.
Pachelbel Canon in D: I've
gotten some questions about playing the Pachelbel Canon in D at
weddings, so I wanted to offer it as a tune I can play for folks.
It's a longish piece, so I made a recording of some portions
of it. It's the sort of piece where the bagpipe doesn't have all
the notes required and you have to change the octaves of some notes, so
it may sound a little different than what you expect.
and here are some wonderful Scots and Irish tunes I've used for
Wedding Music from Braveheart
there's a lovely flute/tinwhistle theme, followed by the Irish pipes;
here they are on the Scottish Highland pipes. If your ears are good, you
can detect I added just a little
electronically - it just seemed to call out for it!
All Those Endearing Young
- often used for a bride's entrance, or the
Flora MacDonald's Love Song
I heard two fiddlers playing this lovely melody and I adapted it for
wonderful, stately melody
a Course for Lewis
- this beautiful melody tells the story of a
young man encouraging his fiancee to journey with him back to the Isle
of Lewis where they were both born. The evocative strains of the
song suit the the occasion of bringing a bride down the aisle, don't
- a traditional Scots song, lovely and stately.
Flower of Scotland
- this is
a slow air in 3/4 time, a lovely melody.
Bells of St. Marys
- from the Bing
Crosby film. A customer requested this for her wedding, and it's such
a pretty tune!
- here's a set
melodies I adapted from "Titanic" - the first theme is played in the
background a great deal during some of the emotional moments. "My
Heart Will Go On" follows. (Note: I added a little
electronic reverb here, it just seemed to call for it!)
She Moved Through the Fair
- here's a lovely Irish tune often used for processionals.
When the wedded couple is presented to the congregation and the
piper plays them out to the front of the church, a joyful, sprightly
tune is called for. Tunes like "Scotland the Brave" (above)
Wedding" are just the thing - a happy, foot-tapping
tune to accentuate the
joy of the occasion!
Playing Before and after the Wedding
When I'm asked to play as the guests arrive, and after
the ceremony is over, I play medleys of Scottish and Irish tunes - all
sorts of marches, dance tunes (waltzes, hornpipes, jigs), separated by
slower songs to vary the music for the listener. I've made a couple of
mp3s of representative medleys, to give some idea what I end up
playing. Since I know a couple hundred tunes, what I play for you
probably won't be exactly the same, but it'll have the same musical
Note: the following mp3s only contain portions of the
tunes mentioned, to make them shorter to listen to.
Medley 1: Here, I start out
with a slow air "Come to the Hills", and follow it with a 3/4 march
"Lochanside", followed by another march (4/4) "Flora Duncan"
followed by another march
(6/8/) "John Burgess". I slow it down with a slow air "Classical
Bob" (don't ask me about these titles!), then into a couple of quick
jigs "Kesh Jig/Rockin' the Baby" followed by a fast "Carnival
Reel" with a fancy ending.
Medley 2: Here I start off with some
classic Scottish 6/8 marches, then into a charming waltz "The Ass in
the Graveyard". From there, it's into a bouncy hornpipe, "Bruce Gandy's
Dusty Chanter", followed by a jig "The Judge's Dilemma" with a fun
Amazing Grace is often
played at memorial services, of
I've played at many military services where the Honor
Guard was not able to bring a bugler, and offered to play "Taps"
Hymn, also called "Eternal
Father, Strong to Save", is often played at military memorial services,
for Navy veterans.
Danny Boy sounds wonderful on the
pipes and I'm often asked to play it at memorial services.
If you're looking for someone to play bugle at a ceremony (for
instance, "Taps" at a memorial), you might contact Bugles Across
They're an organization providing buglers to play "Taps" for veteran's
ceremonies. Their local representative in San Diego is Michael
85 863 3370.
At memorial ceremonies, I often play beforehand, as folks are arriving,
and sometimes after the ceremony is over, as folks are chatting and
remembering. I tend to play a whole series of Scottish airs and songs
of a memorial nature - classics Scots songs like "Flowers of the
Forest", "Will Ye No' Come Back Again", and "Lord Lovat's Lament"
(not a sad tune, despite the word Lament in the title), Irish tunes
like "Minstrel Boy" and "Let Erin Remember", songs that commemorate men
and women ("Fair Maid of Barra", "Hector the Hero"), and many songs
that have to do with moving on ("Skye Boat Song", "Setting a Course for
Lewis"). The titles aren't so important, but I try to provide
pretty and "not-sad" tunes for background as people assemble. etc.
Military Dining-In Ceremonies
Here are some American patriotic tunes, suitable for ceremonies:
God Bless America
America the Beautiful
My Country 'Tis of Thee
and some military songs:
the Marine Corps Hymn
Army anthem ("When the Caissons Go Rolling
Often, I'm asked to play a nation's national anthem, when
appropriate; here are a few that I've adapted:
The Star Spangled Banner - we know how hard it can be to sing this, it
has such a wide range. Adapting that range to the 9 notes of the
bagpipe is tricky, but I believe I play a very nice version of it.
Certainly the US Marine and Navy ceremonies that have had me play it
for considered it a good adaptation.
Canadian national anthem (Oh, Canada) - again, a few notes have
to be changed to conform to the bagpipe's scale, but the melody is all
Irish National Anthem
British national anthem (God Save the Queen)
New Zealand national anthem (God Defend New Zealand)
Australian national anthem (Advance, Australia Fair)
and of course, I'd be happy to check out other anthems, if folks
I've played at many dining-in ceremonies. (Since I was in the U.S.
Navy, I feel particularly at home at one of their functions.)
Traditionally, the bagpipes play the tune "The Roast Beef of Old
bring in the main course, and I've learned the tune so I can play it at
Recently, I've done a lot of birthday
parties; now, not everyone knows that Happy
Birthday can be played on the bagpipes - give it a listen! I
usally tell the folks at the party that I've been asked to play a
special, ancient Scottish air to celebrate the occasion - then I play
Happy Burthday for them! It gets a laugh or two. -)
Pipes are sometimes used at college graduation ceremonies. Recently I
was asked to play for a school rally and freshman orientation ceremony,
playing the school song
nice how often a song fits onto the bagpipes as well as this does - the
range of the bagpipes is similar to the human voice, so a singable
melody usually fits well on the pipes!
I've gotten some requests for various college football
songs. Here's the Michigan
, adapted for the pipes! Other songs I've played
have been the
"Iowa Fight Song" and "On Wisconsin", as well as the "Notre Dame Fight
Song". Heck, if a group of folks can sing it, I can play it. -)
Here's where I'll mention some of the songs that customers have requested for various ceremonies:
"As Time Goes By" - from the
great film "Casablanca", with Humphrey Bogart. I keep
picturing Ilsa stepping up to the piper (!) in Rick's Scottish
Cafe, saying "Play it, Angus; play 'As Time Goes By' ". -)
"Let It Be Me "
"Irish National Anthem "
"The Gael"- this is the theme from "The Last
of the Mohicans"
"Star Wars theme" - as long as a tune
sounds decently on the pipes and is playable, I'm happy to play it for
"What a Wonderful World "
May 2010: I've been arranging a lot of tunes for the bagpipes recently:
When the Saint Go Marching In, to lead wedding
guests to the reception.
Semper Fidelis by John Sousa & Sea
Soldiers for a US Marine dining ceremony (it turns out there are
a number of John Sousa marches that seem to fit
well on the bagpipes!)
A John Denver medley - "For Bobbi", "Country Roads",
"Rocky Mountain High"
the Irish National Anthem for a wedding and the
Canadian National Anthem for a US Navy dinner with some Canadian
A few more interesting tunes that fit on the bagpipes:
Gaudeamus Igitur - this is the 'academic tune' that's used in
movies behind graduation scenes (also in Brahms' Academic Overture!)
Love Me Tender - Elvis's song!
a customer requests "Ave Maria" (by Schubert) for a memorial. Although
there are some notes that don't fit the bagpipe scale, I think I was
able to make a nice arrangement of it!
Performances, Questions and Answers
There's a very useful webpage with commonly asked questions and answers
about employing a piper and requesting music:
Steve MacLeod's Bagpipe
Questions and Answers
the sections on "Hiring a Piper" and "Music" are especially helpful.
Often, I'm asked to come in as a surprise for the guests; it makes a
wonderful effect, and I'm always happy to oblige! It'd help me if you
let me know ahead of time that this is what's wanted, so I don't end up
tuning for five minutes down the street, before the performance, and
ruining the surprise. -)
Sometimes, though, the piper ends up waiting for a long time with
no place to set down the pipes, no clue as to how the ceremony is
going, standing in a back room, or behind a hedge, or around the street
corner, or - well, you get the idea. Give some thought to
providing some comfort for the piper when asking them to be a surprise
for your ceremony!
Recently a customer asked where piping could fit into a wedding
service. I performed at many weddings and have seen where folks seem to
enjoy hearing the pipes during such a service, so I wrote a short
description of various ideas for using pipes during a wedding service:
1. I may pipe before the ceremony, as guests arrive, providing
background music. It also lets the guests know just where to go
if it's a large place!
2. Often, I'll play music while family, groom, officiant, groomsmen,
bridesmaids, flower girls, etc. enter, then I'll stop for a moment (for
dramatic impact!) and play for the entrance of the bride (the
"Processional"). I may literally lead the bride in, or
simply play staying in one place. I usually play a stately march,
or "The Bridal March" if that's desired (listen to the
sound clips above).
3. Often I'll play the Recessional - after the bride & groom are
presented to the family, I play a lively march for them and the rest of
the wedding party to exit on. Once again, I can lead the bride
& groom back down the aisle, or just play standing in place.
"Scotland the Brave" is a great march and very popular for this moment.
4. I can play afterwards as guests mingle, photos are taken, etc. once
again playing in the background.
5. One popular thing is to have me lead the folks from the ceremony to
the cocktail area or the reception area. Folks really seem to enjoy
being "led" by a marching bagpiper! At the destination,
I'll keep on playing fun and lively tunes for a while.
Any other idea is welcome. I haven't been asked much to play during
the ceremony, probably due to the strong sound of the pipes. But
always open to ideas. Any tunes requests, I'll be happy to do my
best to oblige, as long as they can fit nicely onto the bagpipe scale
(not all tunes do). The tunes listed on my website are just the
one's people might recognize or ask for; I play literally hundreds of
tunes, so I've always got something lively to play, or a pretty air for
a more relaxed moment.