As you know, the Dojo believes 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.
In traditional idioms (types of tunes) like Strathspeys, there is a rumor going around out there that a bar should be played with a "strong, weak, medium, weak" stress pattern. Is this true? Yes! Is it "expression," no!
You see, emphasizing and de-emphasizing beats is a fundamental skill that pipers need to be able to apply to various bagpipe tunes. Because we don't have a dynamic volume range like other instruments, we have to simulate this volume by "pulsing" (what the Dojo has named this skill).
Pulsing is similar to "holding," but with an important caveat - any emphasis that you add to one beat must be subtracted somewhere else. Otherwise - think about it - what will happen? The beat will slow down!
And, sure enough, in the subjective bagpipe world, hundreds of tunes are destroyed by the minute, when a piper "holds" notes and beats without the proper sensitivities to the tempo.
The cool thing about pulsing is that it doesn't just apply to beats. It can also apply to groups of beats. For example: Above, we have two beats that we have "pulsed" to create some contrast. What would happen if you put two more beats right after it? ---->
Yep - you guessed it, we're going to add another layer of pulsing.
This second layer is how we would fundamentally generate a "Strong Weak Medium Weak" feel in a Strathspey!
Interesting? You bet! But how do you actually go about applying this to your playing?
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