Playing Jigs

For this bagpipe lesson Pipe Major Bill Robertson explains how to play jigs. The audio file use the tunes Paddy's Leather Breaches and Drops of Brandy. In the video he explains the importance of timing.


Listen to Bill's Audio Instruction
Paddy's Leather Breaches and Drops of Brandy

This lesson is an extract from Bills "Interactive Advanced Bagpipe Tutorials."

Download the Music Notation for Playing Jigs

Click to download the tune notation for Playing Jigs

Lesson Pointers for playing Jigs

  • Jigs are written in compound 6/8 and 9/8 time with two and three pulses to the bar respectively, yet in a different rhythm to that of the marches in compound time.
  • Rhythm of the jig is what we term as “round” without much relative emphasis on notes. The downbeat takes its natural slight stress or feeling without any deliberation on the note i.e. seldom pointed, if any.

The basic pulse rhythm is 1, 2, 3, or 1, 2, 3- with a slight extra touch on 3- if anything to prevent the rhythm from being too “square”. Notes must be clear and cleanly executed, no hint crossing sounds. Think of not dwelling on the first note of three tied notes, then off to the second and third notes almost even in time.

The little touch extra on the third note mentioned earlier adds a certain spirit of the dance, yet ever so slightly. Try counting to yourself rather rapidly in regular time 1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3; and so on to feel the jig rhythm.

Avoid dwelling on “1”. Later when playing a number of jigs correctly you should develop a certain relaxation within the jig spirit of playing. Refer link.

The following shows some ways of writing jigs. Notice how the first extract is written almost round, the present way; the second X has the three tied notes pointed on the third note indicating the jig rhythm rather severely; and the third X is written in the manner of a 6/8 March, which is not the way to play jigs.

Playing Jigs

Grace note combinations such as the “G, D, E,” should have all three grace notes almost all of relatively equal value of 1, 2, 3, without pointing the first note. Sometimes doublings can be played very slightly more open than normally played to good effect – consider. Similarly with grips say from a quarter to eighth note pulse when the grip can be played to good effect rather heavily to produce a kind of triple sound; too light a grip does not sound good. Quarter to eighth notes often in jigs are played evenly so could be written as each dotted eighth note.

Beware of overloading jigs with too many grace notes. Recall much the same grace notes in compound time marches.In bands togetherness is as important as ever, especially the “G, D’ E,” and the almost even runs of the three tied notes – must be played as one. Much intensive drill with corps practice chanter sessions required, and similarly as a pipe corps.


This lesson is an extract from Bills "Interactive Advanced Bagpipe Tutorials."

If you have any questions or comments, please use Contact Form to contact Bill.



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