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Technique & Theory

What is Bagpipe Expression? - VLOG 2.018

Andrew Douglas
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Happy New Year! Bagpipe expression is such a contentious topic - how long do you hold notes, how long to cut notes, when to play soft, when NOT to play soft, and this, and that, and the other thing. But, at its root, bagpipe expression deals with simulating DYNAMICS on our instrument that only has

"ASAP" Nuances in Mrs. John MacColl

Andrew Douglas
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179
ASAPs are Dojo U's way of talking about cut notes in light music. And, when it comes to playing ASAPs, there are indeed some nuances that are worth thinking about. Let's have a look at the 4th part nuances, and you'll undoubtedly have some ideas to "carry over" to your own repertoire as well.

Gracenote Quality in Mrs. John MacColl

Andrew Douglas
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142
A great gracenote should be a pure articulation, meaning that it needs to literally sound in the blink of an eye. If the gracenote is too long in duration, it will muddy up the melody, and obscure what we are trying to portray with this tune, and all other tunes.

Understanding Harmonics—Part 2

John Holcombe
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895
How many of us pipers have a firm grasp of the physics of sound that causes the unique and rich sound of our bagpipes? We are told that we should maintain a pressure in the pipe bag that is at the chanter reed’s “sweet spot”, that pressure that causes the reed to maximally vibrate and bring out the most “harmonics” and richness of sound of the reed. But what, really, are harmonics?

Understanding Harmonics—Part 1

John Holcombe
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654
How many of us pipers have a firm grasp of the physics of sound that causes the unique and rich sound of our bagpipes? We are told that we should maintain a pressure in the pipe bag that is at the chanter reed’s “sweet spot”, that pressure that causes the reed to maximally vibrate and bring out the most “harmonics” and richness of sound of the reed. But what, really, are harmonics?

"What Is a 'Dotted' Note All About?"

John Holcombe
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741
Do you recall the frustration, as a beginner piper, being told to play the music as it is written, but then told to “hold” certain notes longer than others? It takes some time and experience to understand and to appreciate that the music for the bagpipes is not often “played as written”, especially when the music involves “dotted and cut” notes. It's important to understand what this really means if you expect to get more musicality out of your playing.

Troubleshooting Corner: Hard Pipes

Vin Janoski
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1.11K
“My Pipes Are Too Hard!”
You are blowing and moving your arm and wiggling your fingers just as you’ve been taught, only the sounds coming out are not what you know you are capable of producing, and you’re ready for your lungs to burst as you collapse into a puddle of sweat. Sound familiar?