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"What Is an Embellishment?"

"What Is an Embellishment?"


According to Wikipedia: In music, ornaments or embellishments are musical flourishes that are not necessary to carry the overall line of the melody (or harmony), but serve instead to decorate or "ornament" that line.

Many ornaments are performed as "fast notes" around a central note.

Unlike most other instruments, the bagpipe creates a single continuous tone with a consistent volume, from the start to the finish of a musical piece. In bagpipe music, embellishments provide accents to emphasize rhythmic patterns, separate notes, and add levels of expression and dynamics to the overall melody.

There are single-event embellishments that simply add a percussive sound to the start of a melody note. Gracenotes and strikes are used to change a tone of a note from "ah" to "chah".

There are embellishments that add a second "syllable" to a note so it becomes something like "cha-dah". These include doublings, shakes and some birls.

The next order of embellishments would create three "syllables" to a note so that it’s sound becomes something like "cha-ga-dah". These would include grips, taorluaths, some birls (especially G gracenote birls) and D throws. There are other embellishments, less common, that create even more syllables for a note, such as hornpipe triplets and crunluaths.

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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.