There are particular tunes I play on the bagpipes for specific occasions, particularly weddings when there a number of different parts of the day which I play the pipes for. Hear some of the tunes I play at different stages of a wedding, and some of the tunes I play for other events.
Tunes to play the Bride up the Aisle
She Moved Through the Fair
This is a well known Irish song. The melody is very old and has been traced back to both Ireland and Scotland. It is common to find different Irish and Scottish Gaelic songs sharing the same melody.
The Dark Island
The Dark Island is a song written in the 1960s about the island of Benbecula in the Western Isles. There are disputes as to who wrote it. Regardless, it’s a great tune which your guests will recognise!
Tunes for the Signing of the Register
The Mingulay Boat Song
During the Signing of the Register I play a Slow Air and then to provide a contrast I play a fast jig. The Slow Air here is the Mingulay Boat Song and the following jig is called The Jig Runrig. The length of these two tunes put together lasts approximately the same amount of time it usually takes to conduct the Signing of the Register.
Tunes to play out the newly married couple
The bride and groom making their back down the aisle is the important end to the wedding ceremony. Here I play what’s known as a “2/4 March”. The rhythm of a 2/4 March is ideal as it is uplifting, but still lends important gravitas to this part of the ceremony.
The Highland Wedding
As well as being the tune of choice for playing the bride and groom out of their wedding ceremony, the Highland Wedding is also one of the greatest competition pipe marches. The version played today was composed in 1856 and is frequently played by the top competing solo bagpipers and Grade I pipe bands.
John Macdonald of Glencoe
John Macdonald of Glencoe is a tune composed prior to World War 1. It’s a tune all pipers enjoy playing and is a great tune to play for this part of the day. Like the Highland Wedding it’s also a competition pipe march, one I have played frequently in solo competitions and in the Grade I World Pipe Band Championships.
Playing the Married Couple to the Top Table
There’s only one tune to play here. It’s Mairi’s Wedding! This is a very melodic tune which your guests will clap along to as you make your way to your seats at the top table. Once you’re seated I will then toast you.
For events where a lot of playing is required, such as the guests’ arrival at a wedding or welcoming people to a corporate event I play a great many different tunes – both traditional and contemporary. Here are a few samples:
Hornpipes on Highland Pipes
The Last Tango in Harris and other Jigs on Highland Pipes
The Rakes of Kildare and other jigs on the Highland Pipes
The Fair Maid of Barra on Highland Pipes
Cro Chinn t-Saile on Small Pipes
This Gaelic song is often played at Highland funerals. ‘Chinn T-Saile’ is Kintail in Wester Ross and the ‘Cro’ is the cattlefold where cattle were rested overnight before being driven to the Lowland cattle markets.
Jigs on Small Pipes