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Teach Yourself Bagpipes by Lindsay Davidson - Intermediate Finger Exercises and RSPBA MAP Tunes

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Colonel MacLeod

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Five discussion points

1  The positioning of the E doublings in this tune is somewhat surprising and thus awkward to play. The function of a doubling is to create very heavy emphasis on a note, and here in bar 1 we have this happening exactly half way through a beat, where if we were dancing (and a reel is a dance tune remember) we would be in thin air. This is what the RSPBA have indicated so this is what has been worked out, although the writer himself plays this tune without the doublings here, replacing them with a plain gracenote. One way to solve this problem is to lower the tempo slightly and so create the effect of being a fast strathspey. There is plenty of musical precedence for this and so it is a perfectly justifiable thing to do. Please be aware that th E doublings might feel odd though. Part of the implications of this are that all f teh G gracenotes must be very short, shorter than would usually be expected, otherwise the tune starts to get lost in amongst the gracenotes.
2   Strikes on B in bar 2 should be played very lightly and open on the beat.
3   The sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note in bar 4 is an important figure later on in the tune and so particular care should be taken to make sure it sounds the same as the same thing later. This gives the tune musical coherence.
4   The sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note in bar 5 must be very rigidly and squarely on the beat to give the maximum and most exciting effect. Be aware of making the short note too short - there is a hidden melody in here which should be brought out clearly by keeping the given rhythm.
5   Last bar - the sudden change in rhythmical pattern is tricky but will thrill your audience (judges among them) if brought out clearly. Make sure here also to hold on to the dotted C long enough to highlight this point.

This section of the website has tunes taken from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Asociation (RSPBA) prescribed tune list.

If you learn these tunes, there will be a large number of people you can be sure to find tunes in common with.

The RSPBA update their list from time to time and the versions here followed their original published versions, pending updates in due course.
These videos show the music and you can hear midi generated tracks where the rhythm of the gracenotes and embellishments is maintained in proper interprative proportion. You should try to feel the rhythm and also count it out exactly. Start with the fastest files and as you get better, go to the slower files, as this is a true measure of your security of technique.

Each file is given at two pitches, A and B flat. This reflects the different practice chanter tunings commonly found. Please scroll down to what you need (site updated for smart phone and tablets)

The exercises below are chosen to help with some particular trickiness in each tune.



Videos to play along with


Low Pitch normal speed

Low Pitch half speed

Low Pitch quarter speed

High pitch normal speed

High pitch half speed

High pitch quarter speed


For more information on how to use these midi files please follow the link on the left.

Five exercises (please keep coming back until this is fully updated)

Exercise 1

mapex3


Low Pitch High Pitch
Full speed Full speed
Half speed Half speed
Quarter speed Quarter speed

Exercise 2

mapex19graphic

Low Pitch High Pitch
Full speed Full speed
Half speed Half speed
Quarter speed Quarter speed

Exercise 3

ex47

Low Pitch High Pitch
Full speed Full speed
Half speed Half speed
Quarter speed Quarter speed

Exercise 4

ex48

Low Pitch High Pitch
Full speed Full speed
Half speed Half speed
Quarter speed Quarter speed

Exercise 5

ex50

Low Pitch High Pitch
Full speed Full speed
Half speed Half speed
Quarter speed Quarter speed


 

About this project
Lindsay Davidson
About the author