Teach Yourself Bagpipes by Lindsay Davidson

bringing quality 'piping instruction to you for free
Select course
Site entry page
How to practiseHighland Bagpipe library
(+videos and hints)
Lindsay Davidson's tune library
(scores only)
Smallpipe libraryMedieval pipes librarySite map
Buy Lindsay's Books
Intermediate Exercise 52

Intermediate exercise 52

This exercise is intended to help with rhythmical contrast and control.

It helps in this by placing rhythmical groups that are similar but not the same next to each other. You can manage this in two different ways - either thinking of each quarter note group as a single word (ta-fi ta-fi ta-fi in the new French rhythmical solfah), or by thinking of an underlying pattern (tafatifi tafatifi) where each quarter note is broken into four equal parts. Taking both approaches will help you create one effect with different methods, and this exercise is a fairly easy bridge to opening up a new way of thinking about rhythm.

Watch out for the danger of forgetting to think about what you are doing, as this exercise is easy to let your hands do the thinking. It is more about your mind than your hands...

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

Piping Links
About this project
Site map and contents
Youtube Channel
About Lindsay Davidson
Clan Davidson Virtual Pipe Band
GHB Library
GHB Exercises
SSP Library

SSP Exercises

Medieval Music Library