A Limited Comparison of Bagpipe Software
(NOTE: These are my opinions!)
After some consideration of the available programs, I've concluded that there is, as of yet, no "complete" software solution.
I should stress that, because of issues discussed previously, I looked at only three programs in depth. I have extensive experience with Bagpipe Music Writer Gold/Bagpipe Music Player/Reader. However, my evaluation will be continuing and I'll be investigating the capabilities of the ABC shareware solution(s).
My wish list, which will undoubtedly grow as each goal is achieved, is represented below.
Writer Gold or
|Easily installed on Windows computer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to blend with practice chanter||Uses any midi instrument - this works adequately||Sampled pipe sound only||can sample a student's practice chanter or any other sound. Comes with GHB and Smallpipe samples|
|Ability to adjust pitch to match a practice chanter from the soundcard||A or B-flat, nothing in between (Can be adjusted in-between using motherboard speaker.)||Not obvious, but may be able to replace .wav files used to make sound.||Can sample a student's practice chanter - Defaults not adjustable|
|Pitch intervals (intonation) match accepted norms for bagpipe||No, but close||Yes||Yes, by sampling|
|Internal timings within an embellishment/adjustable||Some are acceptable, others not. Significant improvements can be made with code modifications||Nicely done, not adjustable||Nicely done, not adjustable|
|Embellishment placement timing (downbeat within embellishment)||Somewhat adjustable, but all types of embellishments are incorrectly forced to fit the same rules.||Nicely done, not adjustable||All embellishments take time from note following. Not adjustable. (Equivalent to Bagpipe Music Player Setting A=100.)|
|Can control gracenote timing||Yes, not affected by tempo||Yes, a function of tempo only. Limited range. (Taurluaths seem unaffected.)||Yes. Can be adjusted both independently and as a function of tempo.|
|Can control tempo||Yes. Broad range, but requires stopping playback and changing numerical bpm settings.||Yes. Limited range by slider bar with no bpm. Requires stopping playback||Yes. Broad range available by combination of manually setting BPM in data file and a +/-50% slider adjusted range during playback. BPM on slider.|
|Overall Music Flow||Somewhat stilted, with uneven timing between heavily embellished and lightly embellished bars. Can be improved by sacrificing embellishment placement.||Fixed, but solid.||Very nice with adjustable emphasis on beats and pointing.|
|Can play dead slow tunes with very open embellishments suitable for learners||Yes, after changing modifications, but timing may be stilted. When gracing timing is too long, melody note are lost.||May not be enough range to really slow the tune for learners. Embellishments not wide open.||Without adjusting the BPM in the data file, there may not be enough range using the slider to really slow the tune for learners. When gracing timing is too long, the gracings are lost.|
|Can loop through a troublesome passage||Yes||No (Whole Tune Only)||Yes|
|Can easily convert same tune at tempo for accomplished pipers||Yes, after modifications to gracenote lengths||Yes||Yes|
|Broad range of embellishments||Yes||Yes (no heavy throw)||Yes|
|Can set up band medley||Yes||Not obvious||Yes|
|Starting E/matches tune tempo||Selectable/Not by default, but settable in milliseconds, not beats. Auto-E can be deselected and then written into score to match tempo.||Selectable/No, fixed duration. Could be scored in.||Would need to be scored, but then would match tempo.|
|Has Metronome Click||No||No||No (may be available in next version as a drum stick tap)|
|Can write/play harmonies||No/No||No||Yes/Yes. Harmonies are handled as ABC voices.|
|Can cut/paste into word processor for tutorial work||Yes/ Whole music screen is copied||Yes/ Whole tune is inserted via OLE||Yes|
|Output Other Files?||Midi (The file will play, but may not be compatible with music processors), Wave||Wave||Wave, ABC|
|Can Convert from other Sources||BMW, BWW(others with File Convert)||BMW||ABC, BMW, BWW, BGP|
|Drum Scores||No||Separate, but Related Program||No (Next Version?)|
|File Format/Editor||BMW text/Any (e.g., notepad or program)||binary/program only||ABC like text/Any.
EPM files are used for harmonies, contain additional formating information, and are binary in nature.
Copyright S.K. MacLeod 1996-2012