Good strong simple time (2_4, 3_4 or 4_4) March rhythm does not only depend on proper emphasis of the metrical accents (the ones on the beats), but also on correct timing of the “up-beats” i.e. the pulses halfway between the beats. I have heard many performances where a band’s rhythm becomes “muddy” or unclear, because … Continue reading The All Important Up-beat
Could YOU improve the positioning of your fingers on a pipe chanter? This article is for you to think about. It suggests some things that may not suit some people, but I believe it will be helpful to many. Over the last several years, I have come across a number of experienced pipers who … Continue reading Correct finger positioning on a chanter
Why does one piper sound dull and boring while another sounds so interesting and musical? As pipers (and drummers) we are taught techniques of playing bagpipe music. “Hold that low A”. “Your tune needs some more phrasing”. “That note’s a dotted quaver”. These are good things to think about when you’re learning how a tune … Continue reading Dare to play with expression
How Brett Tidswell tuned his drones on-stage for a hornpipe and jig contest.
Drone tuning is actually a reasonably simple process, not a mystic art. Yet I see so many pipers, including many A grade soloists, who approach it in a way that makes no sense and often produces poor results. This post is about common mistakes in the drone tuning process, not a tutorial on how to … Continue reading 8 Common Drone Tuning Mistakes
Today I had a critique sheet I had written fed back to me from nearly two years ago. I remembered the particular performance, because it involved an uncharacteristic “train wreck” on the part of the performing band in their final tune. It reminded me that people often don’t realise that judging is a skill of … Continue reading Great piper ≠ great teacher ≠ great judge ≠ great Pipe Major
In my opinion, the strathspey and reel are the crown jewels of light music. Outside of Grade 1 bands, I rarely hear strathspeys played well, by bands or soloists. Even among A grade soloists I hear in NSW, I don’t believe the correct way of playing strathspeys is widely understood. Strathspeys require some strong finger … Continue reading Strathspeys are not so hard to play
When I started playing pipes as a youngster, it was more or less assumed that bagpipe tuning was the mystic art of the Pipe Major, so it wasn't taught as a fundamental skill for pipers. For many pipers today, this is still the case. And I find this very unfortunate - for two reasons: Tuning, … Continue reading Tuning your own drones