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The Blurry Line Between Bagpipe Expression and Fundamentals
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The Blurry Line Between Bagpipe Expression and Fundamentals

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ALAP ASAP DiagramAt the Dojo, we believe we need to do everything we can to escape the tyranny of subjective terminology when learning the bagpipes. "Expression" is one of those terms where we have to be really careful.

Of course, expression is a really important part of bagpiping - why would we be playing this instrument if we didn't want to express ourselves? But, at the same time, where is the line drawn between fundamentals (the rules of piping you're supposed to follow) and expression (a conscious bending of the rules to achieve a musical/artistic effect)?

Let's explore this a little bit by looking at a typical bagpipe "expression" issue. When we see a dot cut (like the one to the right), we actually don't want to play the usual 3/4 to 1/4 ratio that music theory would dictate. Instead, any good teacher would tell you to "hold" the dotted note super long, and "cut" the 16th super short. Expression, right?

Wrong. This is a fundamental rule of piping! If you don't "express" this the "right" way, you'll be officially "non-expressive."

So, is there a "rule" about this somewhere that makes sense? The average joe would say no - it's just a go-with-the-flow "feel" thing (ahem--subjectivity!--ahem), that only experience will teach you. At the Dojo - we say - of course there's a rule! We invented it!

"ALAP/ASAP" is a Dojo fundamental that we developed to teach this skill in a consistent, logical way. Every time we approach a dot-cut, we need to appoach it the same way, or else we will fall prey to the tyranny of "feel." I'm going to stop there though - rather than reading about it all day - why don't you go try it out on Dojo U?

----->Click here to explore ALAP/ASAP at Dojo University

Check out some of these other links to see what the Dojo might be able to offer you!

----->Click here to shop at PipersDojo.com, and experience the best customer service in the industry!
----->Click here to get up to $50 off your first PipersDojo.com order
----->Click here to explore Dojo Univesity - our online bagpipe school

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Andrew Douglas Andrew is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, having been active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He's also the founder and creator of Dojo U and of PipersDojo.com

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