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Old 06-29-2020, 02:45 PM   #1
KiltedEngineer
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Default Proper Doubling Cadence

Hello all,

Some introductions,

I am a bagpiper from Pennsylvania. I started on the chanter when I was sixteen years old, when I joined a local service pipe band. I received instruction from the ex-pipe major, who taught me everything I needed to know with regards to finger work on the chanter and eventually got me started on the pipes. Unfortunately, conflicts within the band arose; a new grade one piper transferred into the band in an attempt to assist the PM emeritus (who had stepped down due to his growing age) in teaching. This new individual proved counterproductive, altering all of the arrangements, and creating a highly negative environment within the band. He habitually belittled anyone showing progress on the pipes; he would encourage people to memorize the music, and when pipers did so, he would tell them "not to show off" and "don't have an ego" at the next practice. He pushed all of the previous instructors aside, belittling their playing and created a "cult of personality" around himself by making himself the "face" of the band, and making several others feel horrible about themselves. His actions resulted in several physical altercations between he and long time band members, resulting in their dismissal. These actions also resulted in my quitting of the band, as I did not desire to be part of such a negative environment.

I am now 28 and have decided to become serious about playing again. I have been reworking tunes out of Scots Guards, and I am currently brushing up on Johnny Cope.

The biggest question I have had since starting the pipes was how doublings are supposed to sound. When I hear a grade one piper play, the doublings seem to have a "ringing bell effect" and are played rather quickly, almost to the point where you can't discern that it is two actual notes. The g grace note of the doubling is supposed to fall on the beat, but it sounds as if it comes slightly before the beat in practice (the "accent" is on the full note of the doubling).

When starting to play doublings back in the day, my instructor told me to think of it as an intentional stutter, and to play the doubled note as a short "true note". I needed his advice, practicing slowly and deliberately until I hit the fingering down. He assured me I was doing great and executing the embellishments properly, but I was never quite satisfied with how they sounded in tunes. Specifically, they sounded as if I was playing two eighth notes when played as he wanted them played, rather than that "da-DAH" ring that I heard strong pipers play.

I noticed this when recording myself playing as well. As I got more comfortable, I closed the doublings slightly ensuring that I could still hear the two notes separated by two crisp grace notes, and upon recording myself I hear that ring affect. However, when playing in this manner, my original instructor and the new grade one piper both told me I am crushing my doublings, and told me to slow down.

I am currently seeking a new instructor, as I desire to get back in to the swing of things and possibly compete. However, I am brushing up on my embellishments wig the help of several awesome YouTube piping instructors and all of them play slowly and deliberately (as they should to demonstrate and hit home the correct sequence) but nobody seems to show exactly what I should be striving to get to. By that I mean, the sound of a doubling played at speed and what exactly it should sound like.

Does anybody have any advice regarding how a proper doubling should sound? I have been doing drills for the last few weeks and even taking recordings of grade one pipers, slowing them down using a bass trainer to try to get the proper timing of the doubling....overkill probably, but I sort of have a perfectionist attitude when it comes to these sort of things.

Any help pending me locating a new instructor would be most appreciated.

Kilted

Last edited by KiltedEngineer; 06-29-2020 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 06-29-2020, 03:32 PM   #2
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

I have a video on proper doubling technique here: https://youtu.be/ErPUtKUPr6Y. Hopefully this will help answer some questions!
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Old 06-29-2020, 03:40 PM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

Simply put..slowly and evenly with very clean fingers to hear 11111—22222 ( onnee—twooo) then,...1111—2222,..then 111—222, then 11–22

..ultimately..1-2,1-2,1-2 played evenly at the required tempo.

Definitely never...1/2....crushed fingering ...i.e. one note encroaching on the other.

Last edited by el gaitero; 06-29-2020 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:35 PM   #4
KiltedEngineer
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Willis Bagpiper View Post
I have a video on proper doubling technique here: https://youtu.be/ErPUtKUPr6Y. Hopefully this will help answer some questions!
Thank you, your lessons are very informative! It's funny, I have been playing along with your interpretation of Johnny Cope from the Scots Gaurds for reference. I really enjoy your piping.
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:36 PM   #5
KiltedEngineer
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

Quote:
Originally Posted by el gaitero View Post
Simply put..slowly and evenly with very clean fingers to hear 11111—22222 ( onnee—twooo) then,...1111—2222,..then 111—222, then 11–22

..ultimately..1-2,1-2,1-2 played evenly at the required tempo.

Definitely never...1/2....crushed fingering ...i.e. one note encroaching on the other.
So basically, it's as quickly as possible with the tempo of the music but as long as you hear one-two (the "snap" so to speak).
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:11 PM   #6
CalumII
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

What you are describing is a difference I describe as "close" and "open" doublings. THis is my own terminology, but most teachers will recognise what I mean. An open doubling consists of two gracenotes, played with a deliberate 1-2 timing; like saying dah-dah, with a tiny pause in between.



When I teach from scratch, I generally insist on this open doubling sound for perhaps a year, until fluent musical timing and expression is achieved and techniaue is becoming automatic. At this point I introduce the idea of the close doubling. The crucial thing is that the movements remain the same and the same notes are heard. The timing simply closes up a little, and becomes a single almost "ringing" sound, like a rolled R.


On timing, you're right, the G gracenote is on the beat. Strictly, the gracenote finger lands on the beat - I normally say "finger and foot land together", so the gracenote itself is heard before.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:52 PM   #7
Doug Walton
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

Jim McGillivray’s Rhythmic Fingerwork.

End of subject for this question, and lots of others. Skip to the front of the line - buy a copy.
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Old 06-29-2020, 08:21 PM   #8
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

I agree the end of the G grace note and beginning of the big, middle note is what falls on the beat.

I don’t particularly care for fast doublings. I like to think I vary the speed depending on the context. Clearly sounded, slower doublings are infinitely better than fast, crushed doublings. We’re accenting a note so I think it’s important that it sounds differently enough from a single grace note.

In trying to avoid crushing them, it’s important to ensure the last grace note is just as big as the initial G grace note; and that the middle grace note is at least as long. Speed comes with familiarity and repetition.

The number of professional level pipers I’ve heard with perfectly good doublings, except for crushed E doublings, is remarkable. This is the easiest one to crush so we must be extra diligent in sounding the F grace note clearly.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 06-29-2020 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 06-30-2020, 12:33 AM   #9
Song Builder
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

Here is a link to a series of videos published by The College of Piping which might help.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...5R2F_NTWW_Q1C8
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Old 06-30-2020, 03:12 AM   #10
Mac an t-Sealgair
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Default Re: Proper Doubling Cadence

What ever you do keep it simple.

To touch on a few things -

- Start slow and build the embellishment slowly.

- A doubling is a rhythmical embellishment, therefore you have to hear each gracenote. Too many play there doublings tight and lose the rippling effect.

- Doublings will be played at the same tempo whether you are playing a march or a slow air. However as the tempo of the piece you are playing increases beyond that to say a ripper of a reel, you will need to increase the speed with which you perform the doubling so that it fits, tightening it up but maintaining the rhythmical sound of the doubling.
To be honest, this is where beginners are usually exposed as the embellishment doesn't flow with the music and sounds clunky impacting the tune. Learn the tune slowly and build. Notice a theme?!

What Calum and El G say is good advice, and I suppose what I have written is just a regurgitation of that
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