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On the Great Highland Bagpipes, the D gracenote can be difficult to play as short and crisp as the G gracenote, especially in contexts such as the tachem. Aside from just consciously trying to play them shorter, is there a good way/exercise to practice them?

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Well, one of the main things to remember is keep light fingers instead of a kung fu grip. Also, keep your fingers straight rather than curling them. Working with your fingers while off the chanter is important too. Try doing some finger exercises like flexing your fingers or using something like Xtensor. Try not to lift your finger super far off the holes. Just keep practicing them over and over. Building the muscle memory will make it much easier to do, and remember, light fingers.

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I don’t play bagpipes, but I do dabble in a few woodwinds. I am an expert guitarist though, and it seems like the way we do hammer on and pull off techniques would help you. When a guitarist does a hammer on the move their finger quickly. They don’t move it immediately because that will change the rhythm but their finger does move quickly once it moves. When I do a pull off they pluck to the side of the string almost plucking it with the left hand. This creates a circular motion for the whole hammer-on/pull-off/slur thing. So basically if a guitar player wants to do continuous hammer ones and pull-offs they move their hands in a circle that is hammering and plucking very quickly on the string. I think if you were to apply that to the whole on your bagpipe you would get a similar effect. Just use the lightest touch as possible.

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