Tutorial

 

 

 

Chapter 5: Blowing and pressure control

The first step before playing the gaita involves placing the instrument correctly under your arm and inflating the bag by blowing into it through the blowpipe. Blow vigorously, but without applying any pressure with your left arm, while the air enters the bag. When a certain amount of air has been introduced into the bag, the drone(s) will start to sound. Then, as you continue to blow into the bag and the pressure increases, the chanter will start to sound also. For this process, you will start from the C6 position on your chanter.

As a gaita player, you must acquire the ability of maintaining adequate air pressure in the bag in order to avoid dissonances in pitch. At first, acquiring this skill will take time, but with more and more practice, as well as effort and focus on trying to do it correctly, you will improve.

Once the chanter and drone(s) are playing, try to alternate between blowing into the bag and using arm pressure. Blow for a few seconds, while your left arm is resting on the bag without any pressure against it. As you finish blowing, begin to increase your arm pressure. At this moment, you can relax your mouth and inhale. When you blow again, your arm pressure decreases and the cycle begins again. This is the procedure to maintain constant notes from the chanter and drone(s). At first, it is difficult and you will probably produce odd sound fluctuations. Your chanter may even stop playing. However, once you improve your technique there will be fewer and smaller blowing pressure problems. Then, you can improve the tuning of your drones and your technique will get better and better.

As a starting point, here is an exercise to practice your coordination of blowing and squeezing the bag. At first, play just one note (low C). In this way, you can focus on breathing and left arm movement without being distracted by the attempt to produce any melody.
 
With this tutorial, you will see that we believe that learning to play the gaita by starting out only on the chanter is only necessary when it is impossible to access a complete instrument. The gaita is a whole unit and therefore it is best to start from the very beginning with the whole instrument, although this may seem a little harder.

 

NOTE: If you find it difficult to hear the fluctuations in sound, we recommend that you consider using an electronic tuning device. The absence or excess presence of air will make the needles or lights on the device oscillate. Try to maintain the needle or lights as stable as possible while playing a note.

Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero
Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero
Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero
Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero
Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero
Capítulo 5: Coordinación Del Aire. Tempero

Once these exercises have been done repeatedly, just as written, you can try to do them in a more natural way, that is to say, blowing and pressing when you think it’s necessary. In fact, in subsequent musical scores the indication of “blowing” (soplando) and pressing (presionando) are not indicated. This does not suggest a lack of precision. On the contrary, it indicates that individual differences such as body strength, lung capacity or even the size of the gaita itself will determine how often you will blow or press..

 

The following videos illustrate exercises 1 and 5 as examples of this procedure.