The chanter fingerings are based on those used for the Irish Uilleann or Scottish Highland bagpipes.
MIDIPipes 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.
MIDIPipes supports two independent MIDI channels, one for the chanter and the other for the drones.
IMPORTANT: Since this app requires as many as 9 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).
Choose between Uilleann and Highland chanter fingerings using the selector below the drone puck.
For Uilleann fingerings, you can choose whether the back-D note plays when the "Back-D" bar is touched (Open mode) or released (Closed mode). Closed mode matches the real Uilleann chanter.
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
To play the chanter, touch the three holes of the left side of the chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.
Next, touch the four holes on the right side of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.
Touch the green "Octave" bar on the left side with your left little finger to play the notes one octave higher.
Optional finger vibrato may be done by touching holes below the main closed holes used for a note.
If using "Open" Back-D mode, touch the "Back-D" bar at the bottom 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 when in this mode (matches the real instrument).
Touch the "Back-D" bar at the bottom 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 left half of the chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.
Finally, touch the right half of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.
Touch the blue "Back-D" bar at the bottom left center with your left thumb to play the second octave "Back-D" selectable on either a press or release. (Uilleann chanter mode only)
Touch the red "Stop" bar at the bottom right center with your right thumb to stop the chanter sound for staccato techniques. (Uilleann chanter mode only)
Touch the purple "Bend" bar on the lower right with your right little finger to bend the pitch or play finger vibrato. (Uilleann chanter mode only)
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 up to one octaves (zero transpose is "C") 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 MIDIPipes) or "Virtual Port" sending to a named CoreMIDI virtual output port. When the "Virtual Port option is selected, MIDIPipes will show up as an input option in apps that support virtual ports like Universal Piper, Sonosaurus ThumbJam, and MidiBridge. "Omni" mode is selected by default.
All MIDI settings are saved when MIDIPipes quits and restored the next time it is run.
Touch the 'Shhh' icon at the lower left to quiet any "stuck" notes if they occur.
Chanter based on my Kirk Lynch concert pitch chanter. Drone puck image courtesy of Mike DeSmidt.
MIDIPipes 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
In MIDIPipes, 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.
- 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.
- In Settings (touch the gear icon), enable "Background Audio",
- For simple direct connection, in MIDIPipes, set the "Transmit MIDI Port" option to "Omni".
- If using a MIDI filtering app like MidiBridge to modify the data stream, in MIDIPipes, set the "Transmit MIDI Port" option to "Virtual Port".
Other CoreMIDI compatible synth apps will have similar settings.
MIDI Configuration Tutorial for "Universal Piper"
Playing a Roland JV-1080 synth module using an iRig dock MIDI interface
Playing IK Multimedia SampleTank
Playing ThumbJam and my own Uilleann B Pitched Samples
MIDIPipes on the iPad, MIDIRegs on an iPhone, both playing IK Multimedia SampleTank
Main Screen show controls and help labels
Q: I have an iPad and 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.
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: How should I setup my iPad background synth app patches?
A: MIDIPipes defaults to sending the chanter data on MIDI channel 1 and the drones data on MIDI channel 2.
For SampleTank, you will want to setup a patch with two parts, the chanter sound on MIDI channel 1 and the drones sound on MIDI channel 2.
Make sure both parts are enabled to receive data in the SampleTank Parts selector for the patch, and save the setup as a preset.
For ThumbJam, in "Prefs", under "MIDI Control", in "Input Options", turn "Omni Mode" off to allow the chanter and drones to be used on different sequential MIDI channels.
In ThumbJam the "Channel Start" value is already set to 1 by default.
In ThumbJam 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
Other MIDI compatible synth apps will have similar settings.
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: Are the fingerings in Highland mode the same as a real Scottish Highlands bagpipes chanter?
A: Yes, including the F and C natural cross-fingerings.
Q: Are the fingerings in Uilleann mode the same as a real Uilleann bagpipes chanter?
A: Almost exactly. Since the real instrument uses increased bag pressure to jump the octave, I've had to come up with a simple way to accomplish the same thing on the touch screen:
While the fingering chart shows the most simple fingerings, most alternate fingerings will do what you expect.
In MIDIPipes, touch the highlighted bar on the left side to indicate an octave jump.
Back-D is played by touching the highlighted bar at the left bottom center with the left thumb. On the fingering chart, you may touch the blue bar to toggle between whether the Back-D bar on the main screen plays the second-octave D note on a touch or release.
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: Can I play along with music on my iPad?
A: Yes, you can play along with tunes in your iPad's music library by starting a track using the iPad iTunes app, then launching Uilleann. While the music is playing you can double click the home button to bring up the iTunes controls.
Q: Where can I learn more about how to play the instrument?
A: Patrick D'Arcy's website is the definitive starting point for all things having to do with the Uilleann pipes:
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.