The Complete Guide To MIDI Bagpipes; Covering Practice Pipes, Robotic Bagpipers & The Frankenpipe

Q. What’s the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?

A. No one cries when you chop up an bagpipe.

Glamorous MIDI controllers like the Tenori-On get all the press, but MIDI bagpipes are where the real action is.

There’s a significant amount of work being done in the area of bagpipe-style MIDI controllers. And it’s no surprise why: MIDI bagpipes combine two of the world’s most maligned instruments, the synthesizer and the bagpipes, into a state-of-the-art, cutting-edge computer music user interface.

That lets you play Sailor’s Hornpipe.

Check this video out and then tell me it wouldn’t have benefited from a bit of MIDI bagpipes:

Here are the latest options for getting your MIDI bagpipes on:

Master Gaita, top photo, lets you use bagpipe fingering to control the MIDI universe.

The instrument made from a PVC tube with nine touch sensors. A 2.5 meter long cable leaving the plastic box carries the MIDI signals to the computer or sound module.


  • Five selectable with a simple command chromatic fingerings (Galician, Asturian, Scottish, French and Extended (2.5 octaves wide).
  • Compatible with other bagpipes as Gaita de Boto, Sac de Gemecs, Xeremía, etc.
  • Any key/octave performance.
  • Independent control of drones. Tenor drone must be tuned either in first or fifth grade of the scale.
  • Four switchable sound programs with two instruments each.
  • Duete by upper or lower thirds performance.
  • Direct PC connection via joystick plug.
  • Standard MIDI connection using the supplied MIDI cable.
  • MAC or portable computer connection with a USB MIDI converter (not included).
  • Auto-shut off after two or ten (by selection) minutes of no activity.
  • No mouth or legs support needed because of its bagpipe-like held down.
  • No finger moistening needed to activate sensors.
  • Nine volts battery or external power supply.

vPipes is described as Next Generation Bagpipes.

vPipes is an electronic Uilleann Pipes emulator (without regulators) affording the possibility of practising in a variety of situations which would prove to be impractical or impossible with a real set of pipes.


  • 2 x High-performance, advanced RISC architecture main processors
  • Backlit Mini LCD Display
  • Continuous force sensor for realistic octave change emulation
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery
  • In system battery charger
  • Compatible with 4 AA 1.5V standard batteries
  • Integrated synthesizer
  • RISC-based digital signal processor (Synthesis/DSP)
  • High-quality wavetable synthesis
  • Serial MIDI in & out
  • Effects: Reverb + Chorus
  • Surround on two speakers with intensity/delay control
  • Four-band parametric equalizer

The Degerpipes is an electronic bagpipe chanter. It’s designed to be a practice instrument, but it’s also a MIDI controller.

Key Features:

  • Same size and finger spacing as a long practice chanter.
  • Dual output: PHONES and MIDI. Headphones and MIDI devices can directly connect to the DegerPipes Chanter. It’s also possible to connect the phones output to an amplifier or a stereo.
  • The chanter contains all electronic components as well as the battery. No external box or additional equipment is needed.
  • Authentic Bagpipe sound including drones generated by wavetable sound synthesis. Highland Pipe and Smallpipe sounds integrated.
  • Perfectly tuned chanter scale and drones by usage of crystal oscillator and microprocessor control.
  • The Pitch is adjustable in a range of more than three octaves. This enables you to play together with other instruments in any key.
  • The drones volume is variable and can also be switched off.
  • Through MIDI output every MIDI compatible tone generator or other MIDI equipment can be used (for example PC with notation program).
  • An extended cromatical scale is available allowing you to play tunes which are not playable on the real pipe chanter.
  • Driven by a cheap standard 9V Battery, Accumulators are also usable.
  • Up to 100 hours of playing with only one battery.
  • Automatic power off after a minute of no activity.
  • A Metronome is integrated within the Chanter.

3-D Mouse Lets You Control Music In 6 Dimensions

MIDI Navigator, below, is a Mac OS X MIDI driver for the 3dconnexion Space Navigator, right.

Usage is simple: download the application, launch it and select SpaceNavigator in your favorite MIDI application as input device.

MIDI Navigator can send relative and absolute CC commands. You can adjust the CC number, mode and sensitivity for each of the six degrees of freedom.

Rui Gato has created a demo video of this in action.

Requires Mac OS X 10.4 and a 3dconnexion Space Navigator.