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 Post subject: Percussive D
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:18 am 
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In transcribing a few tunes of late, I've noticed a couple of times a percussive sound associated with second octave D on a low whistle. The first is in a piece by Martin Nolan called Air From France (https://open.spotify.com/track/3rmnyYRnZD1qsXT5yFRfmc) where he plays it at the beginning, as part of ABDE, and the other in Easter Snow played by Chris McMullan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsVFN7VAf1g) where at 30 seconds he plays two Ds separated by a B. You might have to slow the piece down to hear it well. I can almost emulate it by playing XXX XOX and slamming the B2 finger down but I don't always get the sound and I can't see what he's doing though he plays the Ds vented. Can anyone enlighten me as to whether the ornament has a name - it doesn't look like what Larsen would call a strike - and whether I'm doing it right.


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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:21 pm 
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It's something that works great on pipes and flute, the "hard bottom D".

The actual pitch oftentimes is Middle D rather than Bottom D but there's still a percussive effect. On flutes it can be done more or less the same on Bottom D and Middle D, of course you finger Middle D closed, that is, the same as Bottom D.

I don't hear high-whistle players doing it much, probably because most of the effect is lost on high whistles.

Low D whistles with very strong bell-notes can imitate the flute fairly well in this regard. With a Low D with a booming powerful bell-note like the Burke you can get close to that old-school honking flute style.

Playing with percussive D's isn't something I think of as being associated with particular tunes. It's merely a technique, and it seems to be that there's a style of fluteplaying that tends to favour using it. .

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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:25 am 
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Thanks, Richard. I haven't heard it used on Bottom D, just these two incidences on Middle D, both players being pipers too, interestingly.

Since you put a name to it, I looked up Hard D in Larsen. Like you he talks about it with respect to pipes and flutes (not mentioning whistles) and as about forcing more air than normal down the chanter which would, I guess push Bottom D to the borders of Middle D. But I see no mention of the use of a pseudo "strike" to create the effect, like I've been doing. So am I doing it wrong?


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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:16 am 
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Mikethebook wrote:
But I see no mention of the use of a pseudo "strike" to create the effect, like I've been doing. So am I doing it wrong?

Yes, there's no pseudo-strike there, but rather blowing through the closed D fingering as Richard suggests. If you look carefully at Chris McMullan, you can see he plays the first D vented and the second (leading to the E) closed. You don't need significant extra pressure, but just give it what you'd normally give the middle D or maybe a tad more. Martin Nolan is probably giving the vented D a 'kick start' by momentarily catching it closed before opening T1, which I've just tested and found straightforward and reliable. I don't think your pseudo-strike on B2's going to add anything unless you actually want the strike sound, being more likely to be masked as finger noise as well as requiring perfect timing every time to not sound as a strike.

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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:10 am 
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Sorry guys. I'm getting confused. Richard mentions "hard bottom D" when I'm talking about two incidences that relate to the middle D or second octave D. Are you talking about briefly starting the note with minimal pressure i.e. bottom D and driving it up to the unvented middle D? If so, that will take a bit of practice. With Martin, you're saying he shortens the percussive effect by quickly lifting the T1 finger? And if I'm correct so far, how does Chris play the first D vented and still get the percussive sound?


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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:12 am 
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Mikethebook wrote:
Sorry guys. I'm getting confused. Richard mentions "hard bottom D" when I'm talking about two incidences that relate to the middle D or second octave D.

Yes, so am I (talking about middle/second D specific to your two examples).

Quote:
Are you talking about briefly starting the note with minimal pressure i.e. bottom D and driving it up to the unvented middle D?

Not exactly. I'm talking about starting it as an overblown bell D so it sounds middle D underpinned by simultaneous fundamental.

Quote:
If so, that will take a bit of practice.

It's surprisingly easy to find and maintain that split point where you get both at once when you're aided by the tendency of unvented second D to do it naturally.

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With Martin, you're saying he shortens the percussive effect by quickly lifting the T1 finger?

I think so, yes.

Quote:
And if I'm correct so far, how does Chris play the first D vented and still get the percussive sound?

I don't think he does (get that sound on the first), but I'm hearing it clearly on the second (unvented) D. I don't think it's really percussive at all, but more a 'harmonic' effect (as in accenting the note through the 'hard' sound created by simultaneous first and second harmonics). I tried all of this on my low D to compare with your examples before posting my first reply.

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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:17 pm 
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Thanks, Peter. I think I understand. It's called a "hard bottom D" because it's regarded as an overblown bottom D rather than the second/middle D that's reached starting the octave below. A slightly different emphasis and result.

As regards the recording by Chris, I've slowed right it down and despite the first D being apparently vented, it sounds much the same as the second D. That I still don't understand. Maybe on the first D he did something like I tried. That first D could maybe hide a subtle strike though why he would approach them differently is anyone's guess.


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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:32 pm 
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Mikethebook wrote:
As regards the recording by Chris, I've slowed right it down and despite the first D being apparently vented, it sounds much the same as the second D. That I still don't understand. Maybe on the first D he did something like I tried. That first D could maybe hide a subtle strike though why he would approach them differently is anyone's guess.

Beware of over-slowing and over-analysis of what might either no longer be there or not be there at all. No matter how good your software and how carefully you use it, what you hear is likely to be affected by shifting time, pitch or both, and, the more you slow, the more you're likely to disturb the original sound. So, while extreme slowing may be great for catching complex, rapid, melodic patterns, it's probably wholly unreliable for this kind of timbre thing. Real-time visual and aural analysis of Chris McMullan's dBde pattern shows him to play the notes straight with the first D (leading to the B) vented and the second (leading to the E) unvented and clearly sounding with some fundamental (at least largely) absent from the first. So sometimes real-time tells you not just what you need to know, but more than over-slowing. If there's a 'percussive' effect on the first D, it may even be simple chance like the simultaneous closing of multiple fingers or even what Highland pipers call 'crossing noises' (from momentarily unsynchronised cross-fingering) accentuated by microphone position. Whatever, I'd say copy the second D if you like the effect, but don't get too hung up on replicating what you hear in the first...

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 Post subject: Re: Percussive D
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:09 am 
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Understood. Many thanks to you both. I probably take it for granted now, but it's such a blessing to have access to experienced and knowledgeable players like yourselves.


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