Published: July 31, 2007

Innovative tune download site poised for launch

PipeTunes.ca will launch with more than 400 compositions for download at varying prices.The well known piper, teacher and judge Jim McGillivray of Aurora, Ontario, is set to launch PipeTunes.ca, a new website where visitors can download individual pieces of sheet music and recordings. On the August 1st launch more than 400 compositions will be available.

Tunes are priced according to their length, calculated by the number of lines of music they contain. Most public-domain, or “traditional,” tunes are priced between $1 and $2, and MP3 files between $1.25 and $1.50. More recent compositions are priced higher to factor in royalty fees, each composer receiving compensation for their original work. An original four-part competition tune by a modern composer would be priced between $2 and $3.

Users will be able to us major credit card to purchase credits to use for downloading tunes. McGillivray said that PayPal will be added soon as a payment option.

“The time is right for pipers to be able to download good settings of traditional and contemporary tunes along with demonstration performances,” McGillivray added. “While pipers should still support quality print collections, there’s no reason they should be shackled to a 60-page book when they want just one tune.”

The site provides many MP3 files of the tunes, so that visitors have a guide as to how the compositions should be played. “Composers have provided me with tunes, and many have agreed to record MP3 demonstrations on practice chanter or pipes,” McGillivray said. “So you can download music for a new tune and a recording of the composer playing it.”

Compositions are easily searched on PipeTunes.ca, and many prominent modern composers are included.Composers contributing to the site so far include an all-star line-up of some of today’s most well-regarded composers, including Bruce Gandy, R.S. MacDonald, Terry Tully, Ryan Canning, Michael Grey, and Neil Dickie. The estates of Donald MacLeod, John Wilson (Edinburgh/Toronto) P-M Willie Ross and others have also provided permission to include compositions. “Other leading composers are on board, but it will take more time to typeset and acquire recordings of the material,” McGillivray noted.

Tunes can be searched by idiom, length, composer, time signature and degree of difficulty. An advanced search option allows users to find tunes with only scant information. For example, if a visitor searches for “MacDonald” he or she will find all tunes in the catalogue with “MacDonald” in the title or the composer’s name.

A free “Biography” section provides information on both current and past composers, which McGillivray hopes will become a growing resource.

McGillivray said that he expects to add 10 to 20 tunes a week. He also plans to add a piobaireachd collection using simplified and straightforward notation and timing.

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