the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

pipe and tabor miscellaneous

Frequently Asked Questions

[please let me know if you have any questions that are not answered here]

What is the pipe and tabor?

A drum and a fipple pipe with three holes played together by the same person - that is the pipe and tabor.
The modified photograph in the banner at the top of this page shows some members of The Taborers Society processing in Gloucester, 2010.


early music by David Munrow
one of the earliest images of players: Guiraut d'Espanha (1240-1270)
morris dance music by Aaron Waldron
the galoubet from Provence, France
Sellengers Round


Spain 1
Spain, Basque area, classical-style playing with an orchestra and dancer
Orfeo written in 1607 by Claudio Monteverdi, played on pipe and string drum
a shortclassical music piece
pipe and tabor intro to 14th/15th century early music ' Ciaramella m'è dolze'
France classical music
France folk music, traditional dance tunes
France solo performance and a half!
South America with dancers
South America religious procession
South America with solo male dancer
Mexico voladores


past Taborers' Society annual Festivals:
2000 Gloucester
2002 Gloucester (photographed by the late Phil Day ) and also here
photographs of some members of The Taborers Society

How difficult is it to play the pipe and tabor ?

Some find it easy, others need a few lessons. The pipe and tabor are folk instruments and have never been taught at music college in the UK. So most people should be able to play notes within the first 5 minutes and tunes within an hour of first picking up the instruments, if not sooner. Some people start by learning a tune on the pipe, and then add the tabor in. A few, lucky, others find they can play the two together from the start.

If you would like some tuition do contact Frances, the project manager, or The Taborers Society direct, or book to come to the annual festival. There is always at least one session for beginners who have never played before.


Where can I buy a three-hole pipe and drum?

Some music shops stock, or can order, a metal three-hole pipe with a plastic mouth-piece called the 'Generation Tabor Pipe'. These are resonably priced, suitable for beginners and are practical if you intend to play out-of-doors a lot. You can also buy these pipe online from The Taborers Society.

The Morris Shop, St Giles House, St Giles Mews, Stony Stratford, MK11 1HT
The Early Music Shop, Salts Mill, Victoria Road Saltaire, West Yorkshire BD18 3LA
Early Music Shop London, 11 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8TD
[The Early Music shop also organise the International Early Music Festival and Exhibition held one weekend in November in London, England, for instruments, music, concerts]
The Taborers Society makers' list
A USA online comparison site: (The Morris Shop)

Can I teach myself to play from a book ?

The books listed here contain tunes that are playable on the pipe and tabor; most were designed for people who wish to play for morris dancing. Many, many other simple tunes from standard music books can be played on the three-hole pipe.

1. Russell Wortley, How to Play the English Pipe and Tabor
EFDSS, Cecil Sharp House, London, 1964, revised 1977, 8 pgs
The 1967 revised edition has 4 pages of useful basic instructions on how to hold and play the instruments. 5 morris dance tunes are suggested, but no music is actually included.

2. Richard Humphries, 'The pipe and tabor', pub R & K Humphries (Feb 1989) Linton, Cambridgeshire ISBN-10: 0948927011
contains Morris dancing accompaniment, pipe & tabor playing history

3. Graham Lyndon-Jones 'Play pipe and tabor' c 2000, St. Albans, 24 p.

4. 'The Pipe & Tabor Tutor' by Dick Bagwell. (Revised 2005)
A self-teaching method with play-along CD and tune book of 61 pages.

5.'Tabor-Pipe Companion' by George Kelischek.
An introduction to tabor-pipe playing. 2003, Kelischek Workshop, North Carolina, USA


Are there any teach-yourself guides online?



Where else can I find music that is playable on the pipe and tabor ?

Apart from music in the tutors, listed above, any music with a range of one octave and one or two notes without lots of extra sharps and flats in the scale can be used. Also some tunes can be modified slightly to fit the pipe's restricted range.

Dance, song, folk, jazz and pop, early and classical music, are all suitable: play whatever styles of music you enjoy. Books in any library or music shop have good tunes. Try music written for recorder, whistle, fiddle, Scottish small pipes, ocarina and flute, for example. A few pieces pieces have been arranged for the pipe and tabor:

* '30 Dances from Thoinot Arbeaus Dancing School' by Poul Hoxbro, early music from the 16th century, downloadable.
* 'Medieval Tunes For Crumhorns Tabor Pipes, Five Hole Ocarinas Recorders, Or Bowed Psalteries in C', compiled by George Kelischek
* 'Hawk Song Volume 8' by Roger Aldridge (for tin whistle and tabor pipe)
* 'The Handbook of Morris Dances' by Lionel Bacon contains Cotswold morris tunes many of which were originally played on pipe and tabor

Can I play the pipe and tabor along with people playing other instruments?

Pipe and tabor players are usually solo musicians today in the UK. However in the past (medieval times and in the 18th century) and in a few morris dance sides today the pipe and tabor is played in groups of mixed instruments for dancing and for entertainment.

When pipe and tabor players do play together or with others instruments the players have to tune the pipes carefully so that they produce a good sound.

Other countries have different traditions, for example France.

Do women play the pipe and tabor?
yes, some examples:
video Spain, solo player in France, France again
Joan Sharpe
, on a 78 record
Gillain accompanying a jig doll
In a band accompanying morris dancing
Peru, panpipes and drum
group of Basque players, male and female

Where can I talk to someone who plays the pipe and tabor?

Come to the annual symposium weekend, which is held in different towns throughout England, or contact the discussion forum. You can contact makers, menders, players, speakers and dance teachers in the UK and overseas via The Taborers Society.


Can I ask a pipe and tabor player to entertain at my event?

contact the project manager or members of The Taborers Society. If you are looking for early music performers more can be found via NEMA.


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