Teach Yourself Bagpipes by Lindsay Davidson

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Exercise 36

Exercise 36

This exercise is intended to help you develop  control over birls and throws.

It helps by 'opening up' these embellishments and helping mark out and train your fingers to move in very exact ways. 
 
Things to watch out for are  the long low G before the throw and the fact that the first D of the throw is on the beat. The fact that the D and C (strike) are the same length also gives this throw an effect of being more emphatic and forceful than a lighter strike would, and this is an effect you will often need in tunes.
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The birl can be played in any number of ways - the tap and across method or the upside down 7. The important thing here is to have control of the two movements separately.

How to practise

Solid bagpipe technique is not about being able to squeeze more wiggly bits into an ever smaller space of time. Solid bagpipe technique means that you can choose how long or short every finger movement will be (and why, according to your physical situation and musical interpretation), and the actions come out as exactly you want. These exercises are designed to make this happen, to give you total awareness and control over your embellishment rhythm by helping establish patterns in your brain.

The Magic Maxim:

"If you can play slowly you can play quickly, but the converse isn't necessarily true..."

This means exactly what it says - the better you become the more exactly you should be able to control what you are doing, and so to test ourselves, we shouldn't practise more quickly, but more slowly.

To think like computers - a sampling rate for a recording is a measure of how many times a second the computer will measure what is happening in the sound. A higher sampling rate makes for a higher quality of recording, up to a point beyond which it doesn't make much difference. It is the same with piping - the more times in a beat you can say exactly what is happening, the better your piping, up to a point..

Playing exactly with the midi files at a quarter speed is a fairly good test for a group, and this extra secret can dramatically affect the strength of playing within a band, and the confidence. It is true that using this approach, you can bring about a positive revolution in your band's playing and attitude.

So to repeat, as you get better and your finger and rhythmical control become more exact, you should go from the fastest videos...to the slowest.

Please be aware that youtube will allow you to change the playback speed, which means you can train your rhythmical skill with more subtelty.

 
Videos to play along with (start with the fastest and gradually move to the slowest)

Low pitch normal speed


Low pitch half speed


Low pitch quarter speed


High pitch normal speed


High pitch half speed


High pitch quarter speed


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