I know that a lot of people use BWW for writing bagpipe music. But I’m cheap, and I use a Mac, and I tried the demo versions of the music notation software my teacher and bandmates use and I hate them (the programs). Iconoclast that I am, I have chosen to transcribe all my music using ABC notation.
The neat thing about this, for me, is that the files are easily editable with any plain ol’ text editor and there’s an easy command line toolchain for converting the ABC files to PDF. The thing I learned today is that the key matters, not just for the signature at the beginning of a line, but for the way grace notes are rendered.
It’s true that the great highland bagpipe is tuned more-or-less in the key of D, and some modern scores are even written that way. However, when you use that key notation in the ABC file, grace notes are written as being tied to the following melody note, whereas if you note the key as ‘HP’ then the grace notes are unadorned, as pipers are wont to expect. This behavior can be overridden with the format directive: