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Old 01-22-2018, 09:16 AM   #21
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: North America
Posts: 3,183
Default Re: Breath size

Originally Posted by Chris C. View Post
For what it's worth, I take full breaths to get the bag full enough to get the pipes going... After that it's much smaller breaths while playing.

Me, too!!

And that way... I don't fall over... in the middle of everything !! :)

My friends all know,
With what a brave carouse...
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Old 01-22-2018, 04:29 PM   #22
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: MI
Posts: 121
Default Re: Breath size

Me, too!!

And that way... I don't fall over... in the middle of everything !!
Bingo. Assuming you have the instrument set properly (which is admittedly quite the assumption), this should really be the only remaining concern. Long or short matters less than keeping both pipes and piper going.
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Old 01-28-2018, 06:36 AM   #23
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Default Re: Breath size

I think that the blowing of the pipes should be as natural, as much part of your normal breathing cycle, as possible.

That's the great advantage bagpipes have over other wind instruments. With a trumpet, sax, or what have you sound is only coming out when air is going in and your breathing cycle is anything but natural, highly artificial actually.

A university oboe professor was telling our class that he believed that the oboe's breathing was the most artificial of all, due to the high backpressure and very little air passing through the instrument, that the player has to find places to exhale as well as inhale, otherwise too much stale air is in the lungs. "You have to remember to breathe, to keep yourself conscious!"

I have observed different approaches.

You'll see pipers who do a fairly quick forceful blow, the bag-arm maintaining the pressure the rest of the time.

A student of Jimmy McColl told me that Jimmy spoke of blowing the bagpipe more like a flute, blowing long, steady, and gently, and only using the bag-arm when you have to take a breath.

At the first Games I attended, in Santa Monica in the early 1970s, my father (who didn't play any instrument, but whose father and brother were musicians) wandered around watching the various pipers and stopped when he came across one particular older piper. My father watched him play for quite some time (might have been piobaireachd) and told me later "He's the best piper. His breathing was so effortless."

It was Jimmy McColl.
proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte
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