Bagpipe as an Extension of your Self - Lesson 2-0: Introduction to Gracenotes; the G Gracenote
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The bagpipes produce a continuous sound. Air is blown into the bag through the blowstick, and the bag supplies the chanter and the three drones with the airflow that they need to produce their rich sound. Because our mouths aren’t directly connected to the sound source, there is no way to separate notes! A clarinetist or flutist would tongue notes. A violinist or cellist would bow notes. As pipers, we have to be a little bit more creative.
To explain it as simply as possible, a gracenote is a quick flick of a finger that produces a percussive sound. They are our only means to accentuate beats and subdivisions of beats, so in that regard they are a necessity. However, once a piper gets good at gracenote technique, they are also used to embellish the music, which transforms bagpipe tunes into some of the most exciting, complex music to be heard anywhere.
Chapter 2 focuses on G gracenotes; the primary and most important of all the gracenotes. G gracenotes mark out beats and important pulses. The vast majority of the time, G gracenotes will appear exclusively on the beat (sometimes on the off-beat). Therefore, it is really important for your foot and your G gracenote finger to develop a connection with each other. All the way through Chapter 2, make sure you’re focused not only on executing all of the material correctly, but also “fusing” the material to your foot, by lining all of your G gracenotes up with your foot-tapping.