Here is a part of Stuart Liddell’s lunchtime recital at the National Piping Centre during the 2010 Piping Live! festival.
These videos, apart from being enjoyable to watch and listen to, offer an exciting opportunity to hear where your fundamental work is heading and the actual benefits of developing it. Yes, you might not be as competitively successful as Stuart (few are), but he is demonstrating the same fundamentals that we all play. His playing is a great example of the reason why we should all work on our fundamentals.
Put simply: Developing control over your scale navigation leads to this. Stuart’s ability to move from note to note in a controlled manner gives him the ability to make subtle changes to his music on the fly.
Listen also to the timing of Stuart’s embellishments in the slow air vs. the reels. Everything is the right size and duration for the musical flow he’s striking. In the slow air, his doublings breathe a bit, but not too much to get in the way of extending the notes that need it to create the right feel. There is a subtle change in the size of the gracenotes in the technique when he gets to the reels. The rhythmic pulse or “groove” Stuart is creating determines how large or small the technique gets. If he played his gracenotes any larger, the rhythm and timing of the reels would suffer greatly. Even when the odd bit of slippage happens in the technique, the size never changes and the musical flow is maintained.
Notice also the importance of developing the control necessary to eliminate lift/drop type crossing noises. Keep track of the numerous bottom-to-top hand changes in these tunes with no odd sounds interfering. That is the ultimate benefit of that kind of work. Playing tunes like this is impossible without mastery of those fundamental skills.