The FEEL of different tune types

Feel of different tune types

Also see

  • Strathspeys (4/4) are jumping dances. Extremely pointed.
  • Reels (2/2 or Cut Time) sound like “Alligator, alligator” or “Salt and pepper, salt and pepper.” Reels are “skipping” dances (up and down a line, or around in circles, etc)
  • Jigs (6/8) sound like “Edible elephant, edible elephant.” Also See Playing Style
  • Hornpipes (2/4) sound like “humpty, dumpty, humpty, dumpy.” –OR– “I don’t know, I don’t know”
    • Bagpipe Hornpipes over emphasize the holds and cuts, so the feel has changed!
  • Slip jigs (9/8) sound like “artichoke, pineapple, Mexico.”
  • Slow Aires are not played strictly to time.
  • Complex Time Marches (6/8, 9/8, 12/8 Marches) have a waltz (1-2-3) feel to them though the 2 is usually closer to the 3 but sometimes the 1. The 1 and 3 though are almost always in place.

How We Learn

When experiencing something, our mind puts the experience, knowledge, etc into short term memory. If we process something three times, the memory becomes stronger. The next time we sleep, those memories are then moved into long term memory.

The more often we process something, the stronger the memory becomes. If we process something similar but slightly different, we now have 2 memories competing against each other. To reduce this internal competition and to strengthen the true memory we want, we need to compare what we learned versus what we wanted to learn. In terms of music, this means comparing what we played versus what we were trying to play.

We will take the bigger picture parts of piping, and break them down into smaller chunks so that we can focus on small items. This focus will allow us to process it enough times to get the knowledge or technique into long term memory.

To enable our best learning, we need to have Ownership, Enjoyment of the activity, and intrinsic Motivation. If we don’t have these 3 things, we aren’t going to put the effort in to master what we are learning.

What is Sound

Sound is vibrations that are within the range of human hearing. When an object vibrates, it displaces a medium like air. The moving air then moves parts of your ear which is translated into an auditory signal in your brain.

On the bagpipes, sound is created by the air moving past the lips of the reed. This causes the lips to vibrate, leading to the sound produced.

If an object vibrates at one frequency it has what is called a pure tone. When the object vibrates at multiple frequencies at the same time and there is a mathmatical relationship between the frequencies, you have a rich tone. If the ratios between frequencies is not whole numbers, you end up with noise.

The pitch of the sound

The pitch is determined by the frequency or frequencies of the vibrating object. Since the speed of sound is constant in a medium, the frequency is strictly dependent on the wavelength.

frequency = speed / wavelength

In an instrument, the wavelength is determined by the length of the tube that the vibrating air is passing through. The longer the tube, the smaller the frequency (less vibrations per second) and therefore the lower the pitch of the sound. Another example of this though not sound producing is a pendulum (think clock). The longer the pendulum arm, the slower the swing. A guitar string is the same; the shorter the string, the higher the frequency.

Further details as it applies to bagpipes can be found at .

While the pipe chanter is a cone, the open tube is close enough for both the chanter and the drones. The theory around False Tones also applies, as you can get harmonics out of the drones if the tuning aligns just right.

On the chanter, we alter the length of the tube by covering or uncovering the holes with our fingers. The more fingers that are down sequentially, the longer the tube and therefore the longer the wavelength resulting in a lower frequency.

The Tone of the sound

A musical note is more than just the base frequency – there are overtones that make up the tone of the note. The first (strongest) harmonic is a perfect octave (2x the frequency) of the main frequency. The next overtone is 3/2 the frequency. The exact mix of the overtones is what changes the tone (overall sound i.e. tonal quality) of the note from warm to cold. When all of the overtones are added together you end up with the waveform of the sound.

Computer generated waveforms are square, but non square ones can be simulated by adding a whole bunch of really short square ones at appropriately different strengths to make the round/triangle/ waveforms desired.