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Old 01-16-2018, 09:22 AM   #1
brewingjt100
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Join Date: Oct 2017
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Default Breath size

Hi,
I've searched around but can't find anything to address my question specifically. I am a beginner (with an instructor) and been on the pipes about a month. I was wondering about my inhale. Should i be taking a full breath from the diaphram, inflating the bag to full, exhale remaining breath after the bag is full, squeeze and then take another full breath, exhale etc. When I say “exhale” I mean do I exhale the remaing air in my lungs around the blowpipe (or shouldnt there be much air left to exhale?) i.e. smaller half breaths.I hope i explained it properly.
Thank you,
John T

Last edited by brewingjt100; 01-16-2018 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:42 AM   #2
el gaitero
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Default Re: Breath size

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewingjt100 View Post
Hi,
I've searched around but can't find anything to address my question specifically. I am a beginner (with an instructor) and been on the pipes about a month. I was wondering about my inhale. Should i be taking a full breath from the diaphram, inflating the bag to full, exhale remaining breath after the bag is full, squeeze and then take another full breath, exhale etc. When I say “exhale” I mean do I exhale the remaing air in my lungs around the blowpipe (or shouldnt there be much air left to exhale?) i.e. smaller half breaths.I hope i explained it properly.
Thank you,
John T
...given the bag is ideally ( should be) fully inflated at all times and ‘rock hard’, half breaths or less would be appropriate....perhaps managed surreptitiously in some passages of a tune during which an individual might manage his air and requisite breathing slightly different....without losing overall tone.
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Old 01-16-2018, 02:35 PM   #3
Steve Law
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Default Re: Breath size

Agreed....fwiw, the only time I use complete lungfuls is when my attention has wandered and the rolls begin while my bag is flat....panic inflation in 4 beats needs big gulps and wide bore blowpipe!

In normal times, whatever’s comfortable....the ONLY critical thing (imho) is constant pressure to the reeds....do whatever you like to achieve that, and if it suits you to vary breath size/depth don’t be bullied ‘cos there is no ‘correct’ way laid down....constant (correct) pressure begets constant tone, and that’s what matters.

Folks sometimes overthink these things....just go with the flow and it’ll come....
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:03 PM   #4
CalumII
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Default Re: Breath size

Assuming a reasonably well setup bagpipe, it will just work. You'll be breathing in more air than normal, but you shouldn't need to be gulping it down. You don't exhale as well as blowing out, which is fortunate, as my little brain couldn't cope.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:57 PM   #5
Pip01
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Default Re: Breath size



brewingjt100,

First... Welcome to the Forum... our Happy Throng!!

As was first told to me... and Donkeys Years ago... by
the Old Gentlemen in my first band... everybody... is a
little bit different about this... and rather like someone...
who is learning... to ride their first bicycle...

Their best advice... for me... and I did both used it for
myself... as well as my subsequently having suggested
it to others... and for their both learning their individual
and appropriate breaths to arm-pressure ratios... as well
as to extend their comfortable playing time... was to simply
hoist their/your/the pipes upon the shoulder... and to play...
for as long as you can... and take a short and restful break...
and then to do it all over... again... and again... and again... :)

And yes... large breaths are needed to get the pipes up and
running... but after that... one can begin to feel... and to hear...
the drone's and chanter's need... for their proper air flow... and
for your ever-easier comfort... and over your ever-lengthening
spans of time... and your "playing breaths"... become the much
smaller... and the more... and automatically... and damned near
unconsciously... controlled... (Fancy that!! And... which is why...
playing the pipes... is (to many)... so much easier... than playing
the bleedin' practice chanter!! :)

It is all rather akin to that first bicycle... or learning how to shift
a manual transmission... at speed... in a large and heavy van...

Here in North America... it's the dead of winter... so inside... is
the best avenue of approach for this particular endeavor... so
find yourself a place where you shan't be a bother to any... and
just play... slow... fast... and in between... and for ever longer and
longer lengths of time... and one day... you'll suddenly say... "Blast!!
I'm actually doing this!!"... and the time... of the when... and the how...
of this transition... may not be that discernable... (Probably more than
half of us... aren't too terribly sure... about how we actually manage it! :)

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

Regards,

Pip01


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Last edited by Pip01; 01-17-2018 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 01-18-2018, 08:56 AM   #6
Nathaniel
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Default Re: Breath size

As I understand it, yes. A full breath and blowing the bag completely full again and then keep going (diaphragm blowing). A quick inhale and then a long blow again.
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:52 AM   #7
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Breath size

I definitely do not waste any breath. None is leaking while blowing and none is expelled anywhere but into the blowstick for the purposes of filling up the bag.

Thus, blowing into the pipe should empty your lungs (well, you never completely empty them) and you need to do it often enough to keep the pipe going. A full bag is often achieved during every blowing cycle.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 01-18-2018 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 01-18-2018, 12:31 PM   #8
Kevin
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Default Re: Breath size

The answer to this is a bit subjective as it depends a lot on your lung tidal volume, which depends on your height, health etc etc. After the initial effort of quickly filling the bag to strike in, the amount of air you need will depend on how efficiently your reeds are set (and if you have any small leaks in your setup).

When things are going well, I seem to just add a small to moderate puff to the bag at the beginning of each exhalation. I would guess it ranges from about a third to half of my average tidal volume. Following that, I exhale the rest to the great outdoors and then inhale again. This pattern seems to be most comfortable for my arm (and previously injured shoulder). If I had stronger wings, I may find it more comfortable to exhale all my breath into the bag and then use my arm more to keep the bag pressure constant but that might mean I have to breath at a different frequency and hence inhale more or less air than feels comfortable for me. I dont think I ever do it but, I guess you could breath a whole breath in between puffs into the bag if that worked for you.

In the end, I think you need to do what feels best for you without flapping your arms too much and without changing your normal breathing cadence too much. Watch some videos of high level pipers playing and you will note that they make it look easy; no huffing and puffing and no arm flapping.

I hope this helps,
Kevin
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:40 PM   #9
Aaron Shaw
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Default Re: Breath size

"The blowing of the pipe must be steady & uniform, & that with the longest breath conveniently possible. The strength of the breath ought to be such as could keep the reeds in their full sound, quite independent of the assistance of the arm. The motion of the arm which holds the bag (while the breath rests) must be such as to keep the reeds in the same strength of sound as the breath; for if the least difference can be perceived, it is a blemish. The motion of the arm must be also so gentle & gradual, as to be little or nothing perceived."

Joseph MacDonald
Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe
1760
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:57 AM   #10
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Breath size

The rhythm and length of your breaths needs to be comfortable and consistent. Otherwise, you won't be able to keep the instrument steady, and you're likely to get light-headed . if you're just starting out, make the bagpipe as easy to blow as you possibly can and try to keep things as close to your normal breathing pattern as possible.
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