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Scale Navigation - The Basics


Any pitched instrument has to have a means to produce its notes. On the bagpipe, we have a small scale that we use that requires specific fingerings to make the notes sound properly. As a piper, you need to make sure these fingerings are correct, and that no unwanted sounds (a.k.a. "crossing noises") occur as you switch from note to note.

Move to and from different notes cleanly and accurately.

The Basics

The basics of good scale navigation come from Chapter 1 of our Tutor Series. In that chapter, the different finger positions for each note are demonstrated, and to start you'll practice going up and down the Scale. Next, you'll look into the two main types of scale navigation; Scale Runs and Arpeggios. You'll practice some exercises, and then look into simple melodies that utilize both types of scale navigation.

Click here to go to Chapter 1 of the Tutor, where you'll learn the basics of Scale Navigation.

The Enemy? Crossing Noises

CrossingNoisesThe enemy and number 1 prohibitor of successful scale navigation is what are called "crossing noises." Crossing noises can be defined as any unwanted sound that occurs during the transition between two notes. For example, if you switch from the note D to the note E, but an unintended Low G sound occurs in between them, that is a crossing noise.

It's much easier to demonstrate the problem of crossing noises than to explain them in writing. So, your next step should be to check out the following class:

Click here to go to the Crossing Noises Class.

Further Investigation

We are continuously hosting classes that, in various ways, feature Scale Navigation topics. To further develop your knowledge and skill in this area, you should check out the following:

Click here to browse all of the classes we've ever done about Crossing Noises.

Click here to browse all of the classes we've ever done that feature Scale Runs.

Click here to browse all of the classes we've ever done that feature Arpeggios.

Click here to browse all of the classes we've ever done that discuss False Fingerings (playing note positions improperly).

These topics, and many, many more can also be found by visiting the "Search the Archives" page, which is located under the "Archive" tab above.


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