About My Piping
As long as I can remember, the sound of pipes has really caught my attention. As a boy, living in Sweden, the chance of actually learning this instrument seemed minimal. However, when I was fifteen, I got to know that there was a pipe band, "The Thistle Pipe Band" in Stockholm and I started with Peter Csaba as teacher in 1979. He gave me a very good base for piping. He also had the ability to play tunes on the practice chanter without stopping the flow of air, "circular blowing", a technique he taught me. He introduced me to Bill Livingstone's 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band lending me their first recording. I realized that I had to write down tunes from recordings, because I didn't have the patience to wait for them to be published. I believe this was a good preparation for making my own tunes later on. P/M Mathias Cramér was my next tutor and it was under his guidance, I made the critical step from pupil to piper of the band. He had a great understanding of the bagpipe music in general and the execution and use of gracenotes in particular. Apart from my two teachers, I was also inspired by another band member, later P/M, Niklas Hannah, starting with the preparations for the quintet competition at Copenhagen Winter Competition in 1983.
In 1985, most of the pipers of the band, including me, had to form a new band, "The Pipes & Drums of the 1st Royal Engineers". The same year I made the first of several trips to Scotland, this time with fellow band pipers Carl-Johan Söderberg, Mats Sjöström and Dag Wahlfridsson, touring the country and going to pipe band competitions. In 1987, I went to Scotland for tuition for P/M Willie McBride, Monktonhall Colliery Pipe Band. In the autumn that year Carl-Johan, a great piper of the band, gave me the 78th Frasers the Ballymena concert recording, that had a profound impact on me. In 1990, the band competed in Scotland but I had decided to quit the band after this. I continued playing, bought a bellow-blown small-pipe in 1992 and joined the band at special occasions e.g. a major TV-appearance, competitions and in 2000 two ambitious band proceduced concerts.
In 1992, I started to play with the other Stockholm based band, "The Caledonian Pipe Band". Great times were competing in Belgium and a festival tour to Brittany. In 1994 Ulf Schönberg, P/M of the "Caledonians" formed a small group of pipers and drummers. The brilliant idea was to experiment with innovative arrangements and compose new tunes, not only in the traditional Scottish piping style but also using influences from Swedish, Breton and Galician folk music. We called us "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen" ("The Swedish Bagpipe Faction") consisting of three pipers, Ulf Schönberg, Krister Bergman and myself, one bass drummer, Pelle Stübler and one side drummer, Henrik Montgomery. The group competed at Copenhagen Winter Competition and the Bagpipe Association of Germany's competition in Ludwigshafen. We also performed with concert programs in Sweden during 1995-1996. The peak was appearing on "Falun Folkmusik Festival". It was during this time I made many of the tunes shown on this website. If it hadn't been for Ulf, I would probably had made one single tune.
Nowadays, there is very little time for piping, besides family life, but I'm not complaining. I have put quite a few tunes together in recent years, though...
About Making the Tunes
I've always been keen on finding and playing new or to me unfamiliar tunes. Playing the same tunes over and over has at times been painful. I always wanted to move on to other tunes, perhaps not always to the advantage on how good I actually managed to play the tunes before "leaving them".
The process to make a tune that is kept together across all parts is very difficult. One obvious way is to have all the ends of each part the same. This is not enough, though. You'll have to add something more that shows the listener that all parts are related and part of a "story" and this is not easy. I've also wanted to make tunes that is slightly different. A tune of mine shouldn't be just another tune.
I always start a tune by trying to make a really good start. If the start is good enough, the tune will come a little easier. It usually takes me several weeks to complete a tune. When I arrive at finishing a tune I always feel proud but also a kind of relief. Very little comes easily to me.
The story of the result of my efforts is shown below.
About the Tunes
This was the only tune that I ever made many years before playing in the "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen". The name is a sound association.
Admiring the View
We had started the "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen". We were struggling to put new tunes together. One day after work, I had to stand in an unusually long queue in the food store. I was anxious to get home. I remember thinking the girl at the counter was really something, so time wasn't wasted after all. Later, back home, I wrote down the first part.
Ulf Schönberg's Brilliant Idea
My first strathspey is named to commemorate Ulf's idea that we, should compose and then perform and compete with our "self-made" music. When I had made the first two parts I felt that something was missing. I had to make a third part.
Fanfare to the Common Piper
This tune was inspired by the music themes often heard in American westerns. One often used is Aaron Copland's "Fanfare to the Common Man" and I when I had made this tune, I thought Copland's title was really good and I "adapted" the title.
Four Pints of Guinness
My favorite beer for a long time was Guinness. I wrote this waltz the same day when going to a pub focusing on these stouts. This tune along with the previous three was included in the first medley for "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen".
The CWC Quintet '95
A jig made in the preparations for "Svenska Säckpipefraktionens" first competition at the "Copenhagen Winter Competition". We didn't use it though.
The actual time, unusual for me, it took me to put this tune together.
The Poodle and the Bass Drum
I had problems finding a name for this strange one. In '95, half a year after I wrote the tune I went to Brittany with the Caledonians. After a festival gig, a poodle mistakenly took our bass drum standing on the ground for a car wheel, when it had to take a leak. Per "Pelle" Stübler, the bass drummer, failed to see the humour in this. This tune lacked a name so I named it after this incident. I usually don't like 4-4 marches but I'm very happy that I could write one that isn't too predictable.
Party in Blue
I made the first part before going to a weird party where everything was blue, including the drinks.
The Drummer's Special
For some time I had wanted to make a tune in one of the compound rhythms and I eventually came up with this "beast". I thought this would be a challenge not only for the pipers but also for the drummers. I had big problems writing this tune down with the correct time of the notes and it took some time before I realized that the last bar of each part has an extra quaver. When we used it as the closing tune in competition we played it once through, then "played" only the drones for a couple of bars and then playing the last part once more with more elaborate harmonies.
Falun Folmusik Festival
"Svenska Säckpipefraktionen" performed here in 1996 and in the preparations we put a Swedish set together and this was the entry tune. Unusually, I wrote the second part first, but something was wrong, until I realized I had to put another part in first. The tune is written in the traditional nordic "polska" rhythm.
The Mess in the Tuning Room
The beginning of this tune was written in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro during a longer work trip. I finished it much later. I named it after a chaos a loose drone stock caused just before going into the Bagpipe of Association of Germany's (BAG) quintet competition in Ludwigshafen. Eventually, we got the situation under control and managed to compete.
The Closing Cracker
In 1997 we lacked a finishing tune for the competition medley set for Copenhagen Winter Competition. I came up with this one. Many years earlier I had been to Scotland for tuition for P/M Willie McBride, Monktonhall Colliery Pipe Band. He used the expression "a real cracker" for a very good tune. I hope this jig is one of those.
Even if You're Terrified
Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band's P/M Richard Parkes was in Stockholm for an "instruction weekend" with the "The Pipes & Drums of the 1st Royal Engineers". At some point he made this remark on how well you should know tunes you are to compete with and I had just finished this short reel.
This was the first tune I made many years after the previous tune and after "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen" had shut down. It was difficult to find the motivation to make tunes but for some reason I got this hornpipe together and it was so fun that I have continued. My daughter said that the tune sounded something like this.
Jumping in the Garden
In the spring when I wrote this jig as an entry for "The Pipe Band Association of Scandinavian (PBAS) Composition Quaich 2011", my sons were jumping on the trampoline in the garden. This time the jumping ended with a collision in the air when the older was on his way down, while the younger was travelling in the opposite direction. After being at the emergency with the boys I decided on the name. I later changed the 4th part using the software CelticPipes for the first time.
The Wake-Up Hornpipe
This hornpipe was written in two steps, about fifteen years apart. I woke up one morning with the first part sounding in my head. After that it became difficult but I finished four parts, named it but wasn’t too happy about the result. Accidently I found the draft many years later, long after "Svenska Säckpipefraktionen". It still thought the first part was good. I made a lot of changes in two parts and eventually made a new fourth part.
The Ever-Dancing Girl
Once, my daughter’s big hobby was dancing. At one point she could hardly walk without putting in some dance moves. When I made this strathspey, I thought the name appropriate.
The Piper’s Rose
My wife is like a rose, beautiful, but if you're not careful, you can get stung. I had been thinking of writing a suite for several years and this is dedicated to her.
Lights in the Fog
I often come up with ideas for slow airs but I never seem to put them down on paper. This is an exception. We were driving home one foggy evening when this one had been finished and the cars’ lights made a spectacular show for us.
The Pom-Pom Jig
Years ago, I listened to a recording Niklas Hannah made when Willie McBride's eldest son Donald played the Irish jig "Cunla" on the pipes for him. In that tune, there is a gracenote sequence that I believe is used in a similar way on the uilieann pipes and I used this in the penultimate bar of each part. I played this jig to my youngest son and asked him what it sounded like.
The Peaceful Walk
When I had completed this march, the name came to my mind when I walked to the tune for the first time.
Piping Live 10 Years
I made this march as an entry for a composition contest.
Change of Pace
When writing this one I was confused what kind of march it really was and I initially noted it incorrectly.
The Coffee Break
The catching start came to me when I was looking for a café in Stockholm with my sons, exhausted going to shops with daughter and wife.
The Bottom-Hand Berserk
Writing this jig was in a way different from other tunes I've made, because I had so many ideas for parts. I narrowed it down to the final six. Due to that so much of tune involves work on the bottom-hand, I thought the name was adequate.
The Erratic Quaver
When playing this for the final time, using Celtic Pipes, before publishing it here, there was an extra quaver on the screen ..... and it started to move around after a while!? A fly was scrutinizing my so far only retreat.
Skating on Lake Mälaren
We live close to Lake Mälaren and in 2018, the ice was really great to go skating. This jig was written in March when we were skating a lot in the weekends.
The Lightning Chase
I’ve been working on this hornpipe during the summer. When it comes down to naming a tune I often try to put something that happened in my daily life together with some important point in the process of making the tune in question. In this case, I made some important alterations resulting in, I hope, a more coherent tune. In conjunction to this, we made a boat trip from an island in Lake Mälaren back to Västerås in Sweden where we live, with our small boat with lightning chasing us across the bay.