Canntaireachd – bagpipe solfège

PipingAtWhitingField-VT-6DiningIn1978cutoutMost vocal musicians are familiar with solfège. This is the do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do scale brought to the awareness of the broader world by the “Doe, a Deer” song from the Sound of Music. The world of Scottish Highland bagpipes has its own sung version of the music, known as Canntaireachd.

Scottish highland bagpipe music is divided into two primary types, ceòl beag, “little music” or “light music” which are the bagpipe tunes played by pipe bands and for highland dancing, such as marches, strathspey, and reels; and ceòl mòr, “great music” called piobaireachd (pronounced pea-brach) which is the “classical” music of piping, which is very sonorous—and some say, boring. Canntaireachd was developed as a method for verbally notating piobaireachd. (It’s pronounced can-cher-ach or can-ter-ach with a rolled T, a very rolled R, and a German final CH.) I was fortunate when I was 17 to attend a two-week intensive piping school taught by the College of Piping from Glasgow, held at a YMCA camp in the California redwoods. There I learned about canntaireachd, although I can’t say I learned it. I did learn some piobaireachd, though—as well as a Goon Show episode called “The Macreekie Rising of ’74“, from one of my bunkhouse mates who had the whole episode memorized. (And yes, that is me in the picture, age 23.)

First, here’s an explanation of bagpipe music, written for fiddlers but comprehensible to most musicians, which explains doublings, throws, birls, grips, leumluaths, taorluaths, and crunluaths, as some of the explanations of canntaireachd won’t make sense without them.

(By the way, I think a key to Scottish Gaelic pronunciation is that you only say about half of the letters in a word. So piobaireachd is pibroch, taorluath is turlua, and crunluath is crunlua. The final CH is like a German ch, and Rs following hard vowels are very rolled.)

Here’s a simple canntaireachd explanation from Teach Yourself Bagpipes by Lindsay Davidson – Piobaireachd:

And here’s a detailed canntaireachd explanation with charts for all of the vocalizations of the notes, grace notes, doublings, throws, birls, grips, leumluaths, taorluaths, and crunluaths:

Here are some videos of folks doing canntaireachd.
Cantarrach – Gaelic tradition – YouTube - good intro.
Tim Britton: Scottish chanting with audience drone • Sondheim Center in Fairfield, Iowa – YouTube
Struan Robertson’s Salute Canntaireachd – YouTube
Visual Canntaireachd 3: Hihorodo hiharara – YouTube - this one has a visual system although not the same on I was exposed to by the College of Piping.

Thanks for a chance to share some of my odd musical knowledge.

Two bedtime stories for my son who wanted stories about penguins.

A repost from December 22, 2008

The Tale of the Three Little Penguins

Once there were three little penguins who decided to leave home and make their way in the world. The first little penguin decided to build his house of icicles, so he built it and moved in. The second little penguin decided to build his house of snow, so he built it and moved in. The third little penguin wanted a much stronger house and he decided to build his house of great big blocks of solid ice, so he built it and moved in.

The first little penguin heard a knock on his door. “Who’s there?” he said. “It’s the big bad walrus!” came the answer; “Little penguin, little penguin, let me come enguin!” The first little penguin said “Enguin?” and then called in a louder voice “Not by the feathers on my chinny-chin-chin!” The big bad walrus then roared, “Then I’ll snort and I’ll blort and I’ll blow your house in!” And he snorted, and he blorted, and HE BLORTED, AND HE SNORTED and he blew the house in. As the icicles crashed down, the first little penguin waddled off as fast as his little feet could carry him to his brother’s house of snow. And the big bad walrus waddled after him in pursuit.

The second little penguin then heard a knock on his door. “Who’s there?” he said. “It’s the big bad walrus!” came the answer; “Little penguin, little penguin, let me come enguin!” The second little penguin said “Enguin?” and the first little penguin said “Enguin?!”. The second little penguin then called in a louder voice “Not by the feathers on my chinny-chin-chin!” The big bad walrus then roared, “Then I’ll snort and I’ll blort and I’ll blow your house in!” And he snorted, and he blorted, and HE BLORTED, AND HE SNORTED and he blew the house in. As the snow blew away, the two little penguins waddled off as fast as their little feet could carry them to their brother’s house of big blocks of ice. The big bad walrus waddled after them in pursuit.

The third little penguin then heard a knock on his door. “Who’s there?” he said. “It’s the big bad walrus!” came the answer; “Little penguin, little penguin, let me come enguin!” The third little penguin said “Enguin?” and the second little penguin said “Enguin?!”and the first little penguin said “Yeah, he said that at my house, too.”. The third little penguin then called in a louder voice “Not by the feathers on my chinny-chin-chin!” The big bad walrus then roared, “Then I’ll snort and I’ll blort and I’ll blow your house in!” And he snorted, and he blorted, and HE BLORTED, AND HE SNORTED AND HE SNORTED, AND HE BLORTED…and he suffered a pulmonary embolism and he died. The three little penguins waited in the house of big ice blocks but after a while they had not heard anything else, so they opened the door and peeked out. The first little penguin turned to his brother the third little penguin and said “Ewwww! There’s a huge rotting walrus on your doorstep!”

The Tale of Penguin Little

Penguin Little came running up excitedly to the rest of the penguins and yelled, “THE SNOW IS FALLING, THE SNOW IS FALLING!” The other penguins just stared at him and said “So?”

Remembering Greta Trygstad, 1930-2018

A memory of my mom I delivered at her memorial service on August 26, 2018 at Faith Lutheran Church, Vista, California.

Let me start by saying I was pretty sure I could stand up here and talk about my mom without crying, but…I could be wrong.

Greta TrygstadGreta Trygstad was our mom. But she was much more that that. She was many things to many people. To her mom and dad, she was Peanut, the littlest kid, who needed a special boost now and then to grow up healthy and whole. She was a loyal and good friend; if Greta was your friend, you had a friend for life. She married a man who by nature was a gentle man, but it was her love that knocked off the rough edges and made him a gentleman. To that man—our Dad—she was the love of his life, and his #1 supporter in his careers. To her church, she was a pillar of LWML, and Vacation Bible School, the maker of Chrismons, and many other things. To Cub Scouts, she was a Den Mother. To PTA, she was a leader and a publicity chair. To her San Dieguito High classmates, she was one of the folks that held them together and brought them together. She was an artist, a craftsman, a wordsmith, and a chef. She worked tirelessly for children and adults with special needs, and for anyone who’s life she could make better.

She was not just mom to me and my brother and sister. She was mom to all our friends, who would come to her for help even when we were not around. She was mother to our neighborhood, for all the kids who needed a mother. She was the mother to stray young Marines, and young employees of our Dad’s, and grandmother to some of their children. She welcomed and fed anyone who crossed her threshhold. She let her whole family—parents, siblings, children, and adopted children—know that they were always welcome for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, along with any strays any of us wanted to bring. And we brought friends, neighbors, classmates, shipmates, convicted murderers, all kinds of folks. Mom believed as Jesus did that a table was to be shared with all.

Greta Trygstad 2Greta—our mom—wasn’t perfect. She let her politics be swayed by demagogues. She loved wine, and occasionally would imbibe to much. She smoked too much. But her flaws were minor, and the care she had for others far outweighed them. She lived her life selflessly, never failing to put others ahead of herself. We are so lucky to be her children, because she raised us to be selfless, to be unprejudiced, to put others ahead of ourselves, and to raise our children to be the same. In many ways, we all wish we could be her.

Mom had great sayings. When me and all the neighborhood kids starting getting on her nerves, she would look at us with a smile and say, “Why don’t you kids take a box of measles and go play on the freeway?” She used to want to go hunting naugas…you know, the animals that naugahide comes from. We had a car that used to audibly say “The door is ajar.” She would argue with it: “No, it’s not a jar; it’s a door.” If things were the same, it was always “six of one, half dozen of the other.” Once mom went to buy some underwear for our dad; the clerk asked if she wanted white or nude. She told him “Nude? No, white. My husband is so modest he goes into the next room to change his mind.” And puns. Greta NEVER missed an opportunity to make a pun. It’s rubbed off on us; if you look at me and my sons, you’ll see that in our family, family ties means family…ties. I really wanted to stand up here and remember her entirely in puns, but despite my genetic disposition to punning, I was never near as good as punning as mom–and I though it might be too much pun-ishment for all of you.

Greta was a woman of faith. Before we settled here at Faith Lutheran when I was eight, she used to take me to Sunday School at the Base Chapel wherever my dad was stationed. And her faith was a faith of action. She believed that when Jesus ascended to heaven, he left all of us to be his hands and feet, and she took that charge seriously. Mom’s belief in the Gospel of Jesus was never an intellectual or emotional exercise, but was was rather a call to her personally to act on His behalf.

I honestly have no way to wrap this up. I did write something out here, but I could stand up here and talk about Greta Trygstad—our mom—for hours. But I don’t think I’m saying anything to you about our mom that you don’t already know. We love her. We will all miss her. Thank you all for being with us today to remember her life.

Greta’s Obituary (San Diego Union-Tribune).
Slide show presentation of Greta’s life in pictures, as shown before her service and at the meal following.
Or you can download the video (582,826 KB).

Who? A sermon for Jun 17, 2018

A sermon by Rev. Blair Trygstad Stowe and Ray Trygstad
Sunday, June 17, 2018 at First United Methodist Church, Ontario, California and at Wesley United Methodist Church, Naperville, Illinois. Variations in delivery before each congregation are noted in the text.

The scripture reading before the sermon is 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13.


This must be one of the most commonly asked questions in history. Anytime something needs doing, a job needs filling, a vacuum of power arises, or you need someone, the same question always comes up: Who? Who will do it? Who can we send? Who will run? Who will save us? Who will be my friend?


The people of Israel said “Who?…Who will be our King?” They didn’t have a king, but all the folks around them did, so they decided they just had to have one too. And the Lord answered their prayers; He told his prophet Samuel to anoint Saul to govern his people. Saul looked the part of a king. He was a tall man, a full head taller than everyone else. By the time of our story today, he was a war hero as well. He seemed to be everything the people thought a king should be. (Based on height alone, he could have been a university president, who as a group are far taller than the general population.)  But he was as it turns out, disobedient. And disobedience in Israel’s history seems to be God’s biggest pet peeve. So, the scripture tells us, “…the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” Continue reading

No Longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female

A Sermon by Ray Trygstad
At Wesley United Methodist Church, Naperville, Illinois, June 19, 2016.
Download as a PDF.

Promises. Everybody makes promises. We make promises to ourselves, often on New Years Day: “This year, I’m gonna lose 40 pounds.” “This year, I’m gonna not watch so much TV.” And some people get a little ridiculous: “I will not bore my boss by with the same excuse for taking days off. I will think of some more excuses.” or “I will find out why the correspondence course on “Mail Fraud” that I purchased never showed up.” Comedian Pete Holmes has the best formula for resolutions: “Forgot to make resolutions? Just write out everything you did last night and at the beginning add the word ‘stop.’” Simple, easy promises that all too often people do not take very seriously.

Fathers make promises. The promise of a parent is far more serious than a resolution. After church today, John and Lynn and I are heading up to the Warrenville Community Center to help present “Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical.” Most folks probably think this show is about Mary Poppins, but actually it’s not. It’s about George Banks, the father of the family living at 17 Cherry Tree Lane. It’s about unfulfilled and even unexpressed promises of a father to his family, and Mary Poppins freeing George to be a full father to his children. Every Dad makes promises, and today on Father’s Day we thank our fathers for following through on those promises: the promise of love, a home, a family, and a launchpad to allow us to leave that home and family to make it in the world. Continue reading

Hubris: Lenovo and Superfish

From one of my favorite blogs, Techdirt, here’s a concise breakout of the Lenovo/Superfish/Komodia affair that came out in the media last week:

Last week it came out that Lenovo was installing a bit of software called “Superfish” as a default bloatware on a bunch of its “consumer” laptops. The software tried to pop up useful alternative shopping results for images. But in order to work on HTTPS-encrypted sites, Superfish made use of a nasty (and horribly implemented) “SSL hijacker” from Komodia, which installed a self-signed root certificate that basically allowed anyone to issue totally fake security certificates for any encrypted connection, enabling very easy man-in-the-middle attacks. Among the many, many, many stupid things about the way Komodia worked, was that it used the same certificate on each installation of Superfish, and it had an easily cracked password: “komodia” which was true on apparently every product that used Komodia. And researchers have discovered that a whole bunch of products use Komodia, putting a ton of people at risk. People have discovered at least 12 products that make use of Komodia. (Read more…)

This is sort of the perfect storm at the intersection of ethics and cyber security, as it is behavior that has compromised/breached the security of Lenovo’s systems, and the two other companies involved refuse to even acknowledge that what they are doing is nothing short of a cybersecurity disaster, but from an ethical perspective, is just plain WRONG. It is an amazing demonstration of the kind of hubris that we see in so many corporations today, complete with”ignore and deny” followed by “circle the wagons” and quickly descending to plain old fingerpointing. Only after being raked through the coals in the press did the lead player fess up and take responsibility, and the other players, the ones with the irredeemably broken business model, are still in the the deny everything and hope it will go away mode. Here’s how this went down in the trade AND popular press, in approximate chronological order…

Lenovo Joins the Malevolent Side of the Online Advertising IndustryGizmodo
Lenovo’s Superfish nightmare is a sign that marketing tech has gone too farVenturebeat VB News
Lenovo CTO Admits It ‘Messed Up’ Allowing Major Security Hole Onto PCsre/code
The biggest takeaway from ‘Superfish’: We need to push for “No OS” buying option.- Reddit /r/technology
Superfish admits installing root certificate authority to show ads on secure sitesThe Next Web
Lenovo backpedals on Superfish adware, says it’s working to ‘restore trust’ - Mashable
Here’s How to Remove the Ghastly Superfish Adware From Lenovo LaptopsSlate
How to remove the dangerous Superfish adware preinstalled on Lenovo PCs - PCWorld
Lenovo CTO admits company ‘messed up,’ publishes Superfish removal tool - PCWorld
Lenovo finally admits its sleazy adware ploy put its own customers at risk of being hacked – BGR
Lenovo’s Superfish security snafu blows up in its faceC|NET
Here’s How To Get Rid Of That Nasty Superfish Vulnerability On Your New Lenovo LaptopConsumerist
Lenovo has just released an automatic Superfish removal tool - The Verge
Bravo! Windows Defender, McAfee updates fully remove Lenovo’s dangerous Superfish adwarePCWorld
Lenovo Releases Tool To Remove The Sketchy Exploitable “SuperFish” Garbage It Pre-Loaded On LaptopsTechCrunch
Microsoft has updated Windows Defender to root out the Superfish adwareThe Verge
Windows Defender destroys Superfish – Slashgear
Department of Homeland Security urges Lenovo users to remove SuperfishMashable
U.S. Government Urges Lenovo Customers to Remove ‘Superfish’ SoftwareEntrepreneur
US government urges Lenovo users to remove Superfish, but the software maker denies security riskThe Next Web
CEO says Superfish is safe as US issues alert to remove Superfish from Lenovo PCsPCWorld
Lenovo CTO admits Superfish put users at risk, talks damage controlMashable
Lenovo slapped with lawsuit over dangerous Superfish adwarePCWorld
Or, just read the Techdirt complete Superfish coverage

Sadducees, Pharisees and Love

A Sermon by Ray Trygstad
At Wesley United Methodist Church, Naperville, Illinois, October 26th, 2014.
Download as a PDF.

Twenty-two years ago this month, I became a professor. In all that time I have taught many courses in multiple subjects, in four different departments at my university. But of all of the courses I taught, the one I enjoyed the most was a history course. In our Gospel today Jesus engages in debate with the Pharisees, because they had heard that he’d bested the Sadducees. Before we examine the words of our Lord more closely, we’re going to have a little history lesson—because I like teaching history. But please, stay calm: there will NOT be a quiz.

Everybody has heard of “Pharisees” and “Sadducees,” and most Christians have a vague awareness that they were some sort of division within Judaism at the time of Jesus. These two groups represented philosophical, theological, liturgical, and cultural differences in Judaism during an era in Jewish history commonly referred to as the Second Temple period. This dates from the return of the nation of Israel from the Babylonian captivity when they re-built the temple, until the Romans destroyed the Temple in about 70 AD. So lets get some context here: who were these people? Continue reading

It is Well with My Soul

A Sermon by Ray Trygstad
At Center Valley United Methodist Church, Chatsworth, Georgia, October 19th, 2014.
Download as a PDF.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

Since I’m here from the Chicago area, I am going to tell you a story of Chicago. This is a tale of a Chicago businessman named Horatio Spafford. Horatio had a successful law practice, had invested wisely in downtown Chicago real estate, and was a leader in his church. He was a friend of Dwight Moody (the founder of Moody Bible Institute), and a man who truly lived his faith. In the wake of the great Chicago fire in 1871, despite the loss of great deal of his own investments and the recent death of their son, Spafford and his Norwegian-born wife, Anna, dedicated themselves to helping those who had been impoverished by the devastation of their city. After years of laboring in the Lord’s vineyards, they were exhausted and decided to join Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey in one of their crusades in Great Britain and to take a well-earned vacation in Europe. Continue reading

Edward Snowden: Point/Counterpoint

My friend and colleague Bill Slater did a presentation before an overflow crowd on Edward Snowden at IIT’s ForenSecure ’14 conference this morning. In his truly excellent and well researched talk, Bill echoed some opinions of the NSA and members of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees as to the “extreme dangers to national security” posed by Snowden’s disclosure’s about the NSA’s abuses. I felt compelled to offer a counterpoint to Bill’s position on some things in his presentation so I stood up and presented my view that Snowden is a genuine whistleblower who has cast a sharp and bright light on systemic and gross abuses of the Fourth Amendment by the NSA. I also pointed out that Snowden is only in Russia because he was in transit when the U.S. revoked his passport, and that all of the data in his possession was turned over to journalists before he left Hong Kong. Finally I discussed how seriously I take my oath to the Constitution, and how disgusted I am by those at the NSA who have taken the same and have abrogated that Oath so egregiously. It was a good session, a good discussion, and despite the appearance of dispute, Bill and I are still friends!