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The Two Cardinal Rules of Embellishments

The Two Cardinal Rules of Embellishments


Especially when we listen to the great players, embellishments really do seem like rocket-science. How the heck are those players getting that sort of sound to come from their fingers?

The way we teach embellishments at the Dojo, you'll see in no time exactly how it happens. Will you be able to do it right away? Of course not! But following the basic rules will get you there way sooner than you thought possible.

EmbellishmentStepsStep 1? Play the steps! Every embellishment is a combination of notes and gracenotes. What are the steps to complete the embellishment?

Now, the next two cardinal rules are very important:

Rule #1: Play each step accurately! Yep. That means all of the fundamentals of scale navigation and articulation need to be completely accurate. If there is a crossing noise in between some of your steps, or if your gracenote quality is poor, the embellishment won't sound good. Period. So.... easier said than done? Of course! But, at least it's easily

Rule #2: Play each step evenly! So, even if you're playing it super slow to start with - it MUST be played evenly (each step the same length). If they're not even, it won't matter how fast you can cram the steps together - it'll be unbalanced! The final step of the embellishment is excluded, of course, because this is our landing melody note.

Ok, once the two cardinal rules are in place, regardless of how fast each of the steps are, the next step is to gradually (carefully) increase the speed of the steps until each step is as short as musically possible. Listen carefully - that's all that the world's top players are doing. You see, there is no rocket-science here - Conceptually, you can do the same thing!

----->Click here to explore embellishments at Dojo University

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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