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Old 03-21-2020, 08:22 AM   #1
erteple
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Default Soft grip?

Whoa, after a couple years of playing I've just made a shocking discovery!
Ever since my practice chanter beginnig, I was told to hold it softly, not to use too much force. Also, or especially, the fingering is to be "light". It makes a perfect sense, too much grip = less feeling, so I tried to adopt that.

However, I just tried to do the fingering much harder. Not enough to break my chanter, but definately quite an oposite of what I've been doing for a couple of years with plenty of missed (or added) grace notes. And the result is perfect! So "sharp", such a good feeling... The last part of The Banjo Breakdown was one of the best I've ever played, I'd say almost spotless, my fingers pushing exactly at the supposed moment and staying there for desired time (as oposed to my usual not such a good timing, that makes problems and "skips" especially in faster parts).

I just wonder, is this usual? Should I stop doing this? It felt perfect, but maybe it was the soft grip that allowed me to learn it properly... Any experience? Or is it necessary only to achieve even faster tempo tunes (the ones I'll never learn)?

Sorry for my lack of proper musical terminology. Also if this should be in the "Beginners" section, my apologies.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:59 AM   #2
EquusRacer
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Default Re: soft grip?

It's difficult to know all of what you're describing, for there's more involved than just 'grip strength.' There's finger height, which in itself is arguable...some (like I) have high finger height, while others believe in minimal height, citing the former being a waste of distance, effort and time. For me, that worked to 'slap' the notes more firmly (while still having a light grip), but also, when I was P/M, for the others to see my fingers clearly.

The point is that crispness and other favorable features may have a relationship with other dynamics than simply how hard we're gripping the chanter. That said, I was taught to hold the chanter as though i were holding a turd. Gross, I know; but I find it very effective, especially when it comes to faster, complicated tunes, and also to playing medleys and/or playing a long time. A firmer grip (or two firm), at the very least, does eventually fatigue the forearm, hands, and fingers.

In the end, as with so much else, it does come down to what works for you. General rules are....well...generalizations. And those don't always apply to individuals.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:11 AM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: soft grip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post


General rules are....well...generalizations. And those don't always apply to individuals.
My ‘rule of thumb’ advice to learners is ..”... no pressure on the thumbs..”
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:38 PM   #4
Pip01
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Default Re: soft grip?





Greetings,erteple,

What most usually... gets in the way... and something
most of us have seen... and probably most of us have
had... on the pc... and oft times... on the pipes... is the
almost always ever present...Beginners Death Grip!! :)

From way over here... I would surmise... that if you are
suddenly... happy... with the way in which you are now
playing... that you should... and most probably... continue
on... in your now present manner... and with the advent of
Time... your fingers... along with your consciousness... will
adjust... to what will... best suit... you...and the music!!

To use a terribly mixed metaphor... (oh, groan :)... the proof
of this pudding... is in the ear. (See? Told ya it was bad. :)

And not only on the faster tunes... but on the slower ones
as well... you will become able to feel... and both with your
fingers... and your ears... what comes out... the best. :)

However this wheel may turn... wishing you...

All the Best!!

Pip01




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Last edited by Pip01; 03-21-2020 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 03-22-2020, 02:35 AM   #5
erteple
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Default Re: soft grip?

Thank you for the insights!


EquusRacer, how does one hold a turd? I thing I cannot imagine thatm as my chanter would sound a bit higher than HA

But very true regarding the total power needed, my hands were quite pumped up after a longer session...

And as for the more complicated issue, the finger height is one of things I was also wonfering about!!!



Thank You, Pip, and all the best for you!
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:57 AM   #6
Green Piper
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Default Re: soft grip?

IIRC Jack Lee once said at a workshop that even during a tune, the amount of grip can change. I am sure he said that at times, he’ll have a “death grip” while at other times it’ll be really light.

I have also heard that some competent pipers will use a tighter grip for marches and strathspeys, but ease up for a reel.

As for height, I have been recommended to lift fingers higher for notes that are more heavily dotted as a psychological tool to aid in holding such notes longer.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:03 AM   #7
CalumII
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Default Re: soft grip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EquusRacer View Post
There's finger height, which in itself is arguable...some (like I) have high finger height, while others believe in minimal height, citing the former being a waste of distance, effort and time.

An interesting experiment is to tune your drones well, then play an (in tune) C against them while varying your finger height. Surprising what an effect on intonation there is.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:53 AM   #8
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: soft grip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
An interesting experiment is to tune your drones well, then play an (in tune) C against them while varying your finger height. Surprising what an effect on intonation there is.
Which is how some pipers get vibrato, especially on long notes in slow airs- varying the height of fingers over open holes.
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:23 AM   #9
EquusRacer
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Default Re: soft grip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Piper View Post
IIRC Jack Lee once said at a workshop that even during a tune, the amount of grip can change. I am sure he said that at times, he’ll have a “death grip” while at other times it’ll be really light.

I have also heard that some competent pipers will use a tighter grip for marches and strathspeys, but ease up for a reel.

As for height, I have been recommended to lift fingers higher for notes that are more heavily dotted as a psychological tool to aid in holding such notes longer.
Yes, I've heard Jack say that, amongst other things (e.g., he pushes for a '7' style birl). My grip varies, too; but not always purposely. I find it tighter on tunes that are newer (i.e., I'm not yet relaxed with the tune), and on some that are more difficult. I find that on reels, jigs and hornpipes, I have to mentally remind myself to relax. But on an instrument of increasing distractions, that's often last on my mind (again, until the tune is in muscle memory status where I can think of other things).
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:18 AM   #10
Pip01
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Default Re: soft grip?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erteple

1-- how does one hold a turd?


2--And as for the more complicated issue, the finger height




1. For the holding... I would think... very... very...
delicately... and none of us would use... two hands!! :)

2. I've seen various excellent pipers... with varying
finger heights... so I would again... surmise... that
you can (should)... just play and practice... the slow
ones... the mid-range... and the quick ones... and
as you gain accuracy... and speed... the "heights"...
will come 'round... right!! :)

Just keep after it!! ... It will come!! :)

Regards,

Pi01






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