Neil Edin Pipe Tune 2.13.2013

I posted this bagpipe tune score on the Viper Piper site at Part of the tune’s provenance is covered in an earlier blog here re. my Cornell Sketches pieces and is further explained in the Viper Piper entry. . I know I am giving readers a challenge by scattering tales of the piece here and there. Well I will compound that fault by offering two more stories about it.

A number of years ago, my cousin Neil and his wife Flora were staying for a few days at Cornell University where he was a Visiting Lecturer at the Law School. My wife Kristina and I decided to get together with them there. While walking across the campus I dragged them into a basement practice room of the Music Department and forced them to listen to my seven part Cornell Sketches. When I finished playing the “Bagpipe Tune to Accompany the Climb Up the Libe Slope,” I turned and asked with some trepidation, “Neil, do you think that’s an original melody?” To my great relief and pleasure he agreed that it was indeed. Phew!

Later, when I learned of Neil’s terminal cancer, I decided that I should formalize the bagpipe score of the piece and name it for him and I wrote him as follows.

March 12 2009
Dear Neil and Flora,
Well, does audacity have no bounds?
As you have already noticed, I have named a pipe tune after you, Neil. It is a tune you and Flora once heard in a basement room of the Cornell Department of Music more than a few years ago. I captured an audience (you two) and asked you Neil, if you thought the tune was an original. You assured me it was. Well, I was fiddling around recently with my newly dusted-off music software, revisiting my pile of unscored music. I had thought of doing a pipe tune for you and kept coming back to this one which is, immodestly speaking, a nice one. So I decided to extract the tune from its original home, Five Cornell Sketches, which have been languishing unscored in my back-again box. (In any event I have always believed in the recycling of musical ideas. A composer’s license?) I had a handwritten score of the tune prepared by a local piper for a Cornell reunion bash ten years ago so that I had something to base this score on. It was a welcome challenge to get everything lined up (oh them-there damned grace notes). Unfortunately, I have had not had an opportunity to have it test-driven, so to speak. My computer seems intent on playing it back in a minor key which is not what is intended. I have put that down to the nine note scale of the Great Highland bagpipe. If I find a piper to play the score and it needs tweaking, I will send you a revised version.
Anyway, I have always admired the Scottish tradition of naming tunes after people and events. And a better use of this air I cannot imagine.
I will say no more.
With great affection, admiration and sadness,


Neil replied  shortly before he died:  Typescript follows.




Dear Neil, Thanks for tunes! And sorry for delay in writing. I’ve had a difficult patch lately that prevented me from writing.

I specially like the first of the two tunes, and am much honored by it. Today’s tune seems (forgive me!) over-adorned with non-standard grace notes, but will be none the worse for that if played with suitable instrumentation.Please note e-mail address above. This is now the only mailbox I can access.

All the best and thanks.






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