GHB Birls

Copyright 1996 David C. Daye
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Subject: Re: Sorry, no physics

>I have identified four syles of birl fingering.

So did I when I was starting. I watched about 40 pipers in the Cleveland Kilty Band, went home & tried all 4 before deciding which one to learn.

Actually I'd got it wrong and invented a 5th, which might be called a "cobra birl." The little finger is first curled, then uncurled to bounce on the hole out-bound, and re-curled to bounce again in-bound. I had to give it up due to bruising the finger joints, but I see no reason some players might not make it work if they're more careful than I was in developing it on my own. It was blisteringly fast on the practice chanter.

>Have you teachers, found that any leads to more difficulties than the

I chose tap-curl (well originally "cobra") because I could get it the closest to the right speed in my early experiments. And of course established pipers were doing it so I knew it would continue to work as I advanced. Click here to see a 17kb diagram of one opinion of the steps in making the tap-&-curl birl.

I had no trouble synchronizing my tap-curl with an upper grade band full of swipe-curlers. I find t-c is the most easy to control and vary expressively, provided it's learned at a young age by flexible fingers. It also seems to be the easiest to play from D, C and low G whre the little finger starts out covering the hole; it need only lift slightly to start the birl, does not have to be entirely repositioned as with swiping birls.

But some of the other methods may be much easier for older or stiffer learners to get working, because the finger need not learn any motion or coordination it doesn't already use in daily life.

For my students, I teach tap-curl first (if they're flexible enough) & then other methods if it proves troublesome. Anyone with an existing birl gets to keep it if they have good control.

As I move onto uilleann piping my tap-curl birl remains my single most dependable GHB embellishment. Into my signature tune for performing I put 24 birls in its 4th part, still an audience favorite and very easy to execute. It even got me a prize from a startled US grade 1 judge some yrs ago. It works for me but note I never played pro so there may be drawbacks at that level.

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