Lesson Four – Practice Chanter

Lesson Four – Practice Chanter

Music Theory

Introductory Notes

also known as a Pick-up note

A note that leads into a part so that the beginning of the part flows smoothly. May or may not be repeated depending on how the part is written. If the part is repeated, then the value of time for the introductory note is “borrowed” from the last bar of the part, or the last part.

Repeated Intro Note

Non-Repeated Intro Note


Triplets often appear in pipe band music, but only in simple time. They are three notes with a 3 written over top of them. A triplet is three notes to be played in the time of two of the same valued notes.

You may see these in songs where the top number of the time signature is divisible by 2 but not also divisible by 3.

Duplet Rudiment

A Duplet is 2 notes played in the time of 3. You may see these in songs where the top number of the time signature is divisible by 3.


Phrasing is the grouping together of a bunch of notes. Most pipe music is written in 4 bar phrases.

Many tunes come from songs, which have words. These words can help you determine how to play these phrases.
One thing to know about the “Scottish Style” is playing phrasings with good selective rudiments and openness and expression. The final pointer is that you have to play some of the rudiments differently than how they are written. Here are three example of what I mean.

The reason why most Scottish drummers intro rolls sound so full is because they choose to end on the left hand. This means that they add an extra buzz, so instead of a 25 stroke roll, it’s really a 27 stroke roll.

When you hear Scottish drummers playing flam doubles it almost sounds like a different rudiment. This is because they are actually playing the down stokes on the flam a lot sooner than the up stroke. Kind of like when you were first taught how to play a flam.

When playing a seven stroke roll that ends with a single five try opening the last buzz in the roll. This will create a sound of extreme openness. You can do this with any length of rolls.


Articulation is the method of starting and stopping each note, along with its length. Unfortunately, pipers can’t control articulation because the reed is vibrating all of the time.

* Slurs
* Staccato
* Legato
* Accent
* Tenuto
* Marcato

Rudiments and Technique


A strike is written as a single gracenote, and is played in a fashion similar to a single gracenote. But it usually involves moving more than one finger at a time.

The strike requires that all of the open holes are covered to play the note written as a strike gracenote. Then you open up to the melody note written after the strike, on the beat. In their simplest form, strikes are played between two of the same note. However, the strike can be any gracenote lower than the two notes it is played between, and the notes do not need to be the same.

Strikes (taps)

Low G Strike

Low A Strike

The following is a strike exercise on the scale:


If the birl is played starting on low A, then the first G grace note is played on the beat. If it is played from another note, there will be a gracenote low A, played on the beat. If the Birl is started from the high hand, there is a chance that there will be a G gracenote to start the burl. The three different possibilities are shown below.

No matter which way is written (and played) the first gracenote is played on the beat. There are 3 ways to play the birl that I know of, and they are usually learned in progression. The first method is the double tap. The piper will play the low a, and then tap closed low g twice. Once the piper has reasonable speed in this, he will usually proceed to the second method, which is a tap-slide. The first low g is played with a tap, and the second is played with a tap closed, but slide open. Once the piper is able to do this with speed, he will usually move to the double slide, where the first low g is played by sliding down across the hole, and the second by sliding back up across the hole.



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