What Is a Doubling?

What Is a Doubling?


The doubling may be the most common embellishment in bagpipe music, right after the single gracenote. It accompanies a melody note turning the sound from "ah" to "cha-dah". It adds a rhythmic accent and creates two syllables on a single melody note, hence the term doubling.

"But there are three notes in this embellishment," I hear you say. Why isn’t it then, a tripling?  Take a look at the middle note of a doubling. It will be the same as the melody note it is embellishing.

A basic doubling will begin with a G gracenote on the melody note (the middle of the embellishment). This will be followed by a second gracenote (the third note in the embellishment) played on the melody note. The result is a two syllable sound on one melody note.

There are a few variations on the basic doubling. One is typically called a "half doubling". Occasionally, when the first G gracenote of the doubling can’t be played, as when coming from a high G or high A, the first syllable of the embellishment will be the sound of the next melody note, most usually a top hand note such as F or E, but less usually a lower hand note. The second syllable will be the gracenote that forms the second "half" of the doubling, hence the term half doubling. When coming from a high A or G to a bottom hand note such as C, the G gracenote of the doubling may sometimes be replaced by a high A gracenote.

It is important to master the doubling. Poor doublings will hamper your musicality. Watch these points in particular:

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Tom Crawford Tom Crawford is Pipe Major for North Atlanta Pipes & Drums and a piping instructor in Marietta GA. He’s been piping since 2000, when he began his studies with Winter Taylor. Tom has played rock, blues, country and Celtic music for nearly 50 years. He’s been a member of Keltic Kudzu since 2006, where he plays mandolin, bouzouki, whistle, and of course pipes. Tom has played and competed up and down the Atlantic coast, as well as in Canada and Ireland.