All instruments need a way to articulate the different notes that are played. Clarinetists and Flutists tongue their notes. Fiddle players bow their notes. Pipers? Well, we use gracenotes to articulate our notes. Gracenotes, in a nutshell, are a quick "flick" of a finger that produces a percussive sound. These little percussive sounds can divide notes, add texture to notes, and ultimately they help us construct the embellishments that we use to ornament tunes.
Produce percussive gracenotes to enhance and texturize your playing.
How does one execute these percussive beauties? Well, it's easier shown than explained. Since articulations are such a big part of bagpiping, we have several chapters of our Tutor devoted to the concept. G gracenotes, the piper's primary gracenote that emphasises beats, is covered in Chapter 2. Supporting gracenotes are then covered in Chapter 3.
Once you have the hang of gracenote basics, it's time to look a little bit more deeply into the concept of a gracenote, and how to make it "crisp," and "clean." In reality, a gracenote does take a very small amount of time to play. But, our job as pipers is to make this length of time seem non-existent. Gracenotes should be a percussive sound that doesn't take away from the melody notes themselves. When they become bigger-than-non-existent, they stop being percussive and start getting in the way. In addition, we also need to make sure the gracenote is "synchronized" with the melody note it is played to.