"What Is a Strike?"

"What Is a Strike?"


A strike is a "single event" embellishment, sometimes also referred to as a "tap".

Like its counterpart the gracenote, a strike is an extremely short movement that is played in order to accent or emphasize a melody note and generate dynamics in bagpipe music. While a gracenote is always higher on the scale than its connected melody note, a strike is always lower on the scale than its connected melody note. Unlike the gracenote, which is done by lifting and dropping fingers on the chanter holes, the strike is done by dropping and lifting, or striking, the finger on the hole, hence the name.

Each melody note has its own assigned strike note (except D, which has two). For the bottom hand notes Low A, B, C and D, the strike note is Low G. For the top hand notes F, High G and High A (and sometimes D), the strike note is created by dropping and lifting, or tapping, the next lower finger. On E, the strike is created by dropping and lifting the E finger. On the top hand notes except E, the strike note is one note lower on the scale. Since there is no note lower than a Low G, it has no strike.

List of Strike Notes

Since each melody note has its own assigned strike note, it does not need to be specifically addressed when verbally describing. We say "strike on B" or "B strike" rather than "a Low G strike on B".

Avoid the common problems when playing the bottom hand strikes. Watch for crossing noises, which are caused by not dropping or lifting all the moving fingers together. Also, be sure you are completely closing the holes and clearly hearing the strike note’s tone.

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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.