The Bagpipe Society

Review: Bagpipe Stories by Toon Van Mierlo

Many of us will be aware of the talents and musicianship of Pascale Rubens and Toon Van Mierlo, well known as the Naragonia duo, and, no doubt, those who follow Naragonia will be interested in Toon Van Mierlo’s latest venture.

Bagpipe Stories is aimed at players of pipes in G which will over-blow into the second octave, whether cornemuses du centre or others . It is more than a tune book, without being a teaching method. Good advice, both technical and musical, from an accomplished player, is interspersed with charming stories and amusing cartoons that give a flavour of Toon’s life and playing. The advice covers a wide range of topics, from the basic (posture, intonation, drones) to more advanced, such as vibrato technique and chromaticism. There are lots of tunes, too - a few familiar from the Naragonia repertoire, but mostly new and written for the pipes.

They are recognisably Toon-like, and in a range of keys - some certainly give a good workout to the flat notes - and rhythms. As with the most recent Naragonia tune-book for diatonic accordion, there is support for players on the Naragonia Music YouTube channel, where you can see and hear Toon playing the tunes and demonstrating some of the techniques, as well as Thomas Hoste providing an innovative metronome on hurdy-gurdy. If you are looking for new pipe tunes with a distinctly modern flavour, that will sit on modern pipes in G, Bagpipes Stories may interest you.

It is available on the Naragonia website ( in English or Dutch (state on ordering), and in electronic or print formats.