Swedish bagpipes

Some beginner friendly tunes

Here are 8 tunes that are good tunes to learn, for two reasons: They are beginner friendly and they are commonly known among other Swedish bagpipers.

Each tune is presented in four ways: A written score, Midi sound file (generated directly from the written score, i.e. played exactly as noted), mp3 (me, playing the tune) and as a wmv video (showing my hands playing the tune).



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

Långdans från Sollerön is a good practice tune for staccatos. In all bars where there are three quarters (bars 1, 5, 9 and 11), try playing the second and third note staccato. Stay in tempo! It is very tempting to accelerate while playing this tune.



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

Visa från Venjan is a mediaeval ballad about a virgin getting water from a well, when a knight in shining armour suddenly shows up asking for her hand. She responds that she will accept if he fetches her three red roses. The knight fails to find the flowers (possibly because this takes place in the middle of Swedish winter) so he asks a painter to paint him three red roses instead. With the painting in hand, he returns to the virgin who is very surprised to see him, and even more so when she sees the painting. "I only said that as a joke", she says. "If so, joke received", says he, and they both live happily ever after. Mediaeval ballads are strange, sometimes.

For the beginner, the challenge here is to separate notes that are repeated, e.g. the C#'s in the beginning of the second part.



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

Vals från Enviken is a good tune to learn how to make a second voice which goes well with the melody. Record yourself playing the melody, then listen to that with earphones, while trying to play a second voice. For example, follow the melody but one third below, i.e. two fingers below on the chanter (where possible).



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

A "steklåt" ("steak tune") is a tune (usually a march) intendend to be played on large dinner parties (e.g. a wedding celebration), when the main course is carried in and served.

There is a notable difference here, between the written/midi version and the way I play it in the sound example and in the video. I play G instead of G# i the second bar of the third row. This requires (well, at least it makes it easier) a hole under the right hand thumb.



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

Krigsvisa om danskarna (war tune about the Danes) is a propaganda tune against the Danish army. Sweden has a long history of wars and conflicts with the Danes. (Not in the recent 200 years though)

"Armar, tarmar, lår och ben, sig upp i luften svinga,
och hela mänskokroppar med, sig stora flugor flinga.
Och när vi såg att det var så hårt,
när vi såg att det var så svårt,
då började vi att stanna, och gav upp den röda fanan."

The lyrics to this tune are not for the faint of heart. The first part roughly translates to "Arms, guts, thighs and bones are flying through the air. And whole human bodies too, attracting big flies".

This is also a great tune for a pair of pipers, where one plays a second voice which mainly stays one third below the melody.

Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

This is one of very few "real" Swedish bagpipe tunes, i.e. tunes with a known connection to a bagpiper in the old tradition. There are only about twenty of those, and all of them were written down second hand. In other words, they were all played by someone else, on some other instrument, when first written down. Since most other instruments have a greater range and flexibility than bagpipes, many of these tunes had already then, when written down, transformed into something which is no longer playable on pipes. This tune is an exception, possibly because Jont Lars Olsson, after whom this tune was written down, sang (lilted) the tune.

Jont Lars had this tune after the bagpiper Gucku Olof Olsson (b. 1828). Olof often played with his younger brother, Anders, who played the fiddle. Together they were known as "Guckupojkarna" (the Gucku lads).



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3 (two bagpipes, in series with a British tune - Miller of the Dee
video

Ljugaren (also a great tune for two bagpipes) is a tune with a connected story about a woman playing this tune on a spilåpipa (a traditional fipple flute) as a lament for her husband, whom she has just seen go through the ice and drown on lake Ljugaren. The tragedy occured November 17, 1888.



Click the score to hear the tune played exactly as written (midi)
mp3
video

This is also a "real" bagpipe tune (song, in this case), also know as "Rännarns visa". Lars Larsson Rännare (1786-1844) was a bagpiper in Dala-Floda and still today, no eye stays dry if you play or sing this song there. Once when I did that, a 97 year old man came forward afterwards and told me that he was Rännarn's descendant. That was a great moment.

Variants of this tune are known also from other places in Dalarna. The version from Leksand is more commonly known than this one, I think, but it does not fit the scale of the bagpipe. There are different versions of the lyrics, and number of verses, as well. I usually only sing one verse:

"Jag blåste i min pipa, då kom en liten duva fram,
hon hette Rännar-Stina, jag tog'na i min famn,
Sjung hopp fallerall, fallerallanla,
sjung hopp fallerall, fallerallanla,
hon hette Rännar-Stina, jag tog'na i min famn."

All the music scores, collected in one PDF document

A zip file with all tunes, music scores and midi (sound) files

Olle Gällmo http://olle.gallmo.se olle@gallmo.se