Scottish Music For the Pipes

by Hilary de Vries

foreward by Allan MacDonald

The Barley Skimmers

Book & CD

On sale at Boarstone Publishing



Also available from:

The National Piping Centre

The Music Shop, Inverness

The first collection of Hilary de Vries' pipe tunes, covering a wide range of rhythms and time signatures, moods and atmospheres. It includes music written in many of the different highland and island landscapes of Scotland, reflecting their seasons, birdsong and the people who live there.


One piece that illustrates just how much the weather and even the time of day can affect a composition is 'A Skye Birdsong Trio'. The three parts were each written at a different time, morning, afternoon and evening, and as a result each has their own colour, their own feel, yet are all of the same place.


Another tune 'St.Michael's Church' has been used to accompany a video of the recently restored 16th century Kirkmichael on the Black Isle, and the two together really capture the feel of the place.


The title tune 'The Barley Skimmers' comes from the swallows that dart over the fields of barley in the summertime. Birds generally are a source of inspiration, and other tunes about or influenced by them include 'The Buzzard and the Crow', 'The Little Brown Bird' and 'The Sandpiper in the Heights of the Hill'.


The notation is written in Highland style with an assumed key of A with no key signature and has Highland decorations, Initially they were going to be presented with no decoration at all, but I decided to include them to help reflect the mood and shape of the music, but with the proviso that anyone playing them should feel free to adapt them to suit their own style of playing.


The book comes with a study cd, played by Allan MacDonald, to help in learning the music.

'Veering Westerly'

Played here by Maarten de Vries

Killearnan video image

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Veering Westerly, Railing at the Moon , Ferintosh,  Isabel’s Tune, Camus Alba, The Famished Hound, The Barley Skimmers,  Jumping the Fence for Jock, North Kessock, The Buzzard & the Crow, St.Michael’s Church, The Circle, Bill Gority, Rhona Fletcher, The Dunnock, The Burn by the Road, Inverarish, The Knockbain Road, Heavy Hands, Loch Eynort


Glen Aros, The Loch Frisa Skipstep, Newhall Point, The Banshee Hoolie, The Curlew’s Call, The Little Blue Van, Cnoc na Craisg, Arjen’s Tune, Red Ruadh, The Twisted Hazel, Willy Gibboney, Dun Borodale, Munloch, The Horsetail Stramash, The Balmore Road, Ailean Domnullach, Il Baglietto, The Goose with the Unclipped Wing,


A Skye Birdsong Trio, The Little Brown Bird, The Sandpiper in the Heights of the Hill, Killearnan, The Wintering Sky, The Birdsong of Cuillin View, Allt Arais, Where My Heart is Still

‘She has a very musical ear and pipers will find plenty of interesting tunes in the book’
Piping Times

‘The tunes definitely have an air of Highland inspiration’
The Chanter

‘This music requires a quiet approach; it is open-ended and meditative, melodically more simple than complex and relying for its power on the willingness of the piper to explore its possibilities’
Common Stock


 'Some people come along and change the format (of piping) who are not necessarily pipers themselves- and Hilary is one of these persons. When this occurs, interesting things happen.'

Allan MacDonald

The Barley Skimmers bagpipe book cover
© Hilary de Vries 2020                   
Hilary de Vries