"MIDI Bagpipes Chanter"
Scottish Bagpipes
MIDI Practice Chanter for the iPad

MIDI Bagpipes Chanter App Icon

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MIDI Bagpipes Chanter is a Scottish Bagpipes fingering based MIDI controller for the iPad.

MIDI Bagpipes Chanter doesn't produce any sound on its own, it is designed for playing hardware and software VST-style MIDI synthesizers via a CoreMIDI compatible interface connected to the dock connector or virtual MIDI instruments like Roland Sound Canvas for iOS, Universal Piper, or Sonosaurus ThumbJam running on your iPad.

IMPORTANT: Since this app requires as many as 8 fingers on the screen at the same time, before playing, disable "Multitasking Gestures" on your iPad (in the iPad Settings app, under the General section, turn the Multitasking Gestures switch to the off position).

The chanter fingerings are based on those used for the Scottish Highland Bagpipes (as well as other related smallpipes).

MIDI Bagpipes Chanter supports two independent MIDI channels, emulating the operation of the drones and chanter of a set of Scottish Highland Bagpipes.

Touch the drone puck to start/stop the drones. For the Highland pipes, you'll want to set the drone transposition two semitones higher than the chanter.

Touch the bar at the top of the screen with your left thumb. It represents the hole on the back of the chanter for the highest note and must be covered for other lower notes to play.

The app uses chanter fingerings based on those for the Highland pipes.

Next, touch the top half of the chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.

Finally, touch the bottom half of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.

Touch the MIDI connector icon on the bottom left to bring up the MIDI parameter controls.

You may select the MIDI channel, attack velocity and volume for the chanter and drones independently using the sliders at the top of the screen.

The entire range may be transposed up or down (zero transpose is "C") up to one full octave in semitone increments using the chanter and drone transpose sliders.

Use the "Transmit MIDI Port" switch to choose between "Omni" sending MIDI data to all CoreMIDI apps (matches previous versions of MIDI Bagpipes Chanter) or "Virtual Port" sending to a named CoreMIDI virtual output port. When the "Virtual Port option is selected, MIDIChanter will show up as an input option in apps that support virtual ports like Sonosaurus ThumbJam, Universal-Piper, and MidiBridge. "Omni" mode is selected by default.

All MIDI settings are saved when MIDI Bagpipes Chanter quits and restored the next time it is run.

Touch the '?' icon to show the help screen.

Touch the 'Shhh' icon on the upper left corner to send a MIDI "All Notes Off" command to quiet any "stuck" notes if they occur.

Drone puck image courtesy of Mike DeSmidt.

MIDI Bagpipes Chanter is the perfect MIDI controller to use with a MIDI hardware interface and PC or Mac-based virtual MIDI synthesizers

"Studio Piper" from ePipes.co.uk:

And software synthesizers running on the iPad like "Universal Piper"

ThumbJam by Sonosaurus is now including my highest quality Säckpipa
samples as a free in-app downloadable patch!

Also be sure to download the free Scottish Smallpipes patch!

Please click the graphic to visit ThumbJam on the iTunes App Store

How to use MIDI Bagpipes Chanter with Popular Synthesizer Apps

Universal Piper

In MIDI Bagpipes Chanter, enable the "Virtual Port" MIDI output, and set a -4 Chanter transpose.

In Universal Piper, enable Background Play, Drone Auto ON/OFF, MIDI Chanter, and select "Degerpipe - Extended" as the MIDI Chanter to use.

Refresh the MIDI inputs and when MIDIChanter shows up, enable it by clicking on the dot next to the name (should turn green)

You should now be able to play like any other hardware MIDI chanter.

Sonosaurus ThumbJam

- In "Preferences", under "Options", enabled "Background Audio".

If using the "Virtual Port" transmit port option, enable the input port under Preferences / MIDI Control / MIDI Input Connections

- Make sure that the "Channel Start" value in "Input Options" is set to 1.

- Use the second instrument load feature (touch the "1" on the left bar, toggles to "2") to allow a second instrument to be played on MIDI channel 2.

- The instrument in slot 1 (MIDI Channel 1) will be your chanter sound, slot 2 (MIDI Channel 2) will be your drone sound.

- You can toggle between slot 1 and slot 2 to change the sounds in each slot by touching the number in the left bar in ThumbJam.

IK Multimedia SampleTank

- In Settings (touch the gear icon), enable "Background Audio".

IK Multimedia iRig MIDI Hardware Interface

- For simple direct connection, in MIDI Bagpipes Chanter, set the "Transmit MIDI Port" option to "Omni".

- If using a MIDI filtering app like MidiBridge to modify the data stream, in MIDI Bagpipes Chanter, set the "Transmit MIDI Port" option to "Virtual Port".

Other CoreMIDI compatible synth apps will have similar settings.

Demonstration Videos

MIDI Configuration Tutorial for "Universal Piper"

Main Screen (MIDI Controls Showing)

MIDI Bagpipes Chanter

Questions and Answers

Q: The sound stops when I put four fingers on the screen.

A: Go into the iPad Settings app, and disable the "Multitasking Gestures" feature.

If it is on, when you put 4 fingers on the screen, Apple completely takes over the system, stops the sound and starts switching between apps.

Q: I'm running a CoreMIDI-compliant virtual synth app on my device, but I don't hear any sound when using your MIDI control surfaces.

A: Please check that "Background Audio" is enabled on the virtual synth app you are running.

Also check that the virtual synth app has an active patch on the same MIDI channel(s) you are sending from the control surface app.

Battery Saving Tips

Synthesizer apps running in the background often continue to consume power even after you are done playing.

Be sure to "Force Quit" the synthesizer app when you are done playing to ensure that you don't run down your battery.

ThumbJam Tips

On my iPad, I create user patches from the built-in patches that have the realtime tilt controls all disabled.

In ThumbJam into the Edit/Controls for the patch, set the Volume selector to "Fixed" and the Pan, Vibrato, Tremolo, and Pitch Bend to "None"

Then save the setup as a new user patch.


If the sound level is too low through the speaker on your device, go into the Sound/(Volume/iPod) page and turn the "App Vol Boost" up to where the sound is louder but doesn't distort.


Q: I'm not hearing any different notes while in Highland mode! Help!

A: On the real Scottish pipes, you have to keep your left thumb covering the back chanter hole for all notes except the highest one.

On the app, the back chanter hole is provided by the gray bar (lights up green) at the bottom of the screen under your left thumb.

If you aren't hearing any different notes, make sure your left thumb is on the bar.

Q: How should I get started playing?

A: To get started playing, first select Highland mode using the selector below the drone puck image.

Next touch the bar at the bottom left center with your left thumb, and touch the left side chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.

Next touch the right side of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.

The tips of the fingers must be used, not the flats. This is a limitation of the iPad multi-touch input system.

Once you are comfortable playing the easy fingerings for the notes on the chanter, use the help screen (rotate the iPad to portrait orientation) to assist you in learning the proper Highland bagpipe chanter fingerings. These fingerings are used when properly executing all the Scottish piping ornaments.

Q: What's the most reliable way to play to avoid any random notes or false triggering?

A: The iPad touch screen is most reliable and accurate with small touch areas rather than large surfaces in contact with the screen.

Since the Bagpipes apps really push the limits of the multi-touch capabilities of the device, it is best to use the tips of the fingers wherever possible rather than squashing the flats of the fingers down on the screen.

Q: Where can I learn more about how to play the instrument?

A:For Highland pipes, I recommend visiting the following sites:

Pipe Major William Robertson has an extensive set of free online Highland bagpipes lessons.

City of Winchester Pipes and Drums in Virginia has a very nice collection of tunes in standard notation as .bmp images.

The Fort Collins Pipe Band has many tunes online, also some solo marching drum recordings.

There is a wealth of information online at Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums.

More Apps To Enjoy

AppCordions iOS Apps Catalog


For more information, please contact Michael Eskin or visit the AppCordions.com website:

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