…and now for the GHB!

This is now getting serious: learning to maintain steady pressure. Relatively easy when playing the scale but harder when it comes to an actual tune. I note that different tunes have different air demands.

Here is the low air demand AG

So, how’s that thumbnail going?

Almost three months have passed since my attempt at thumb-jam. Below is what it looks like today. The new nail is emerging, slowly but surely. Note the small round indentation in the centre of the nail. That’s the small hole my doctor drilled to release the accumulated blood and with it a lot of pain. Next time ( I dearly hope there won’t be a next time) I will know what to do. Get small needle, disinfect by heating the tip with a cigarette lighter ( find a smoker, they will always have one) and then gently start drilling it into the nail. It is a painless procedure and saves the trip to the medic. Too easy.

On to the pipes!

I’m finally feeling some progress is being made with that octopus. A few hurdles needed to be overcome, however. Being stuck in a part of the world where face-to-face access to experienced pipers is extremely difficult, learning to jump those hurdles was a hit and miss affair. But, in the end I managed to clear most of them so far.

The hurdles took the following shape:

1. the blowpipe that came with the original set of McCallum’s was about 50% too long. I figured that out after watching numerous youtube videos of accomplished pipers. If they were right handed, their lower right arm was generally parallel to the ground, while mine was at about 45 degree angle! I could just about scratch my knee. Something was amiss. I also had trouble tucking that bag comfortably under my armpit without feeling my head being skewered by the blowpipe. A bit research indicated that there was such a thing as a length-adjustable blowpipe. Out went an order for the airstream telescopic blowpipe. It duly arrived and finally my bag could settle under my arm. Problem 2 arose.

2. that oval mouth piece was supposed to be much easier to deal with than the round one. It was, but I still didn’t have the lip-power to keep a seal on it. A bit more research led me to Garry Gifford’s website, and the flat mouthpiece. I ordered two. They felt absolutely natural in my mouth. No seal problem. No lip fatigue ( sounds like an ad for lip balm). Next problem.

3. there was a leak between the blowpipe and the mouthpiece insertion. Fixed that with a bit of blu-tack and a hose clamp.

Looks ugly, but it works. What more could an aspiring piper want? Ok, to be able to play like a Grade 1 piper, yes. Sure. One day… maybe… can I order that online somewhere? No. Next problem.

4. i had a set of medium resistance chanter reeds from PipeDream Reeds. They were pretty good, but I wanted to try the low resistance reeds. One sweet week later, I had one installed, struck in the bag and WOW! What a beautiful tone! It was something to behold, even for a bleeding raw beginner like me. I was floating.

Buoyed by all this technical progress, I played through Amazing Grace. Kind of apt. I admit that it was not perfect. I was not able to maintain consistent pressure on the bag, however it was not bad at all.

I’ll make a recording of it soon and post it here for posterity.

On to jigs!

It’s been a while since I posted here. I have not been sitting on my laurels ( even if I did have any, that is). I’ve been working on quite a few tunes on the practice chanter, and now I’m onto the bagpipes as well.

Among the tunes I’ve been working on is a jig ( or two). But before these can be mastered, I am told, I need to get those GDE’s polished to a bright spark. Thank you, Reed for your advice, as always! So, here is my first trial run with the GDE exercises as provided by Jori Chisholm. It’s an exercise in concentration as well. Not an easy exercise, but it is fun and challenging.

Here my first run through the first 2.5 lines of 10. I went as far as I could and then lost my brain somewhere and fizzled out. The tempo is at 116 bpm. That felt a reasonably comfortable tempo.