Online Music Directory

February 20, 2009 on 6:44 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, News, Tips | 10 Comments

I have a few hard copies of various tune directories.  They are all out of date, though the oldest is not more than ten years old.  Directories are handiest for tracking tune sources, but interesting reading, too, for getting a sense for the printed proliferation of any one particular tune.   According to Iain Millington’s “The Complete Bagpipe Tune and Drum Score Index” (Montreal: Concordia University, 1992) , the strathspey “Mony Musk” is available in no fewer than 35 printed sources.  Who knew?  I find that impressive number interesting, especially for a tune that is not hugely popular (though, for what it’s worth, one of my favourites to play in solo competition).

For years Florida-based piper and cardiologist, Dr Robert Pekaar, has worked away at his passionate hobby of bagpipe tune source list-building.  He has published five editions of his directory so it’s a safe guess piping keeners are supportive of his work.

He recently made his directory available online – and free (everyone’s favourite thing).  It might be said Dr Pekaar now joins the list of people who subscribe to Yoann Le Goff’s vision of “Open Source Piping”.

I thought I’d highlight the link here and urge you to bookmark the search engine.  You’ll be glad of it one day soon, I’m sure.

The work required to build such a database boggles the mind – though undoubtedly an enjoyable pursuit for the good Doctor.  And for that, I am thankful – and grateful.



  1. Mike,

    Just tried a search for “The road to mull and oa” and used a few word variants… but nothing came up… isn’t that a jig in your 2nd book?

    I might have the title a wee bit awry as it’s years since i learned the tune.

    Comment by IainMcLean — February 22, 2009 #

  2. That’s a wonderful tool he put online.

    Comment by YoannLeGoff — February 22, 2009 #

  3. I checked for Arthur Gillies. Three related tunes came up, but not one written by Gillies in John Mackenzie’s Collection. Do the engine need precise info?

    Comment by Stig Bang-Mortensen — February 23, 2009 #

  4. You guys are a hard crowd!

    Iain – Hamilton Workman’s “Road to the Mull of Oa” is in my book 1 – it comes up in the search when I enter “workman” along w/”composer”. Looks like the title search needs some tweaking …

    Stig – I don’t think it needs precise info (e.g. I entered “workman” and got Hamilton Workman’s tunes … but seems, for sure, to have room for improvement …

    Still – not bad!

    Comment by mike — February 23, 2009 #

  5. Actually the more unprecise input “gillies” resulted in a lot of options, amongst them the tune I was looking for.

    Comment by Stig Bang-Mortensen — February 23, 2009 #

  6. Stig – a good news story then! M

    Comment by mike — February 23, 2009 #

  7. so has this forum just become a software testing consortium? I like the idea of the database, think it’s a bang on idea but like you say Mike, it might needs a few more tweaks but it’s close… from a previous life involved with a software company i know how hard these things are to make happen and when they work everyone wonders why it took so long to develop!

    Comment by IainMcLean — February 23, 2009 #

  8. Iain – In my other life I work with developers – not sure I’d make the cut as host of a “software testing consortium” :-))) Maybe we can provide feedback to Dr BP? I don’t have his email address – in fact, I don’t know him …but someone will. It is “very close”, as you say…


    Comment by mike — February 24, 2009 #

  9. Hey Guys,
    I offered web space and to put together a search engine of the Bob Pekaar Tune Encyclopedia, and Bob said okay so, there it is. This search engine was my first foray into programming in Perl. The database is in such a format, and I don’t have installation privileges on the host, that I couldn’t use the usual tools to search the database in its native format. Alas, the Perl script to search text files…

    Usually the less you type, the better. Misspellings in the database, Mac/Mc, etc. all eliminate possible results from your search. If you need help, just let me know.

    Comment by patrickmclaurin — October 8, 2009 #

  10. That’s great news! Thanks for the update, Patrick! M.

    Comment by mike — October 19, 2009 #

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