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 Post subject: Reviews?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:50 pm 
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Opinions on Reviol and Howard low whistles?

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:30 pm 
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With the caveat that my sample size was small, here goes!

I've only owned one Reviol Low Whistle, it was a set with one head, and three bodies (Low C, Low D, and Low Eb).

It was at a time, a few years ago, when I was buying and trying a large number of Low Ds.

Because I was regularly playing a number of different brands I had a good idea of what the typical quality Low D whistle played like, and my impression at the time was that the Reviol was just that: a high quality Low D that played in the typical way I had come to expect.

I don't recall anything notable about it.

About a Brian Howard Low D, I only owned one, and it was back many years ago. They might have changed their design, I don't know.

I had heard a guy playing one in concert and it sounded great. I got one and it was strange. I couldn't get used to blowing it. It played very differently than any other whistle I had played. The tuning was horrendous no matter what I tried.

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:52 am 
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Regarding the Howard, I have the complete opposite opinion, mine was bought a year ago, & came with a newer designed head, it has a lovely tone, but is fairly quiet, but is more than adequate for my style of playing, it's as loud as most of my low whistles, & is fairly easy to get the second octave.

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:29 am 
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Yes that's the thing, makers might re-design their instruments from time to time.

My Howard was purchased new back in the 1980s IIRC. The low octave on that Howard was very loud, and the low octave and 2nd octave were miles apart.

Have you put your Howard up against an electronic tuner to see how the scale and octaves are tuned? I would be interested to find out.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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Goldie Low D whistle


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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:59 am 
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Sorry, no I don't have a tuner. Unless my uke tuner will work on it, I'll go & see.

Second octave G & A show as sharp using my uke tuner clamped over the end of the tube, but bare in mind, I don't often go up that high normally myself, so could be me skewing it.

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:20 pm 
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@Richard C. - It was interesting you mentioned using a tuner. I asked a question about this on The Session and received answers talking about just temperament and equal temperament if I recall the terms correctly. If you, or other readers can say a bit about this it would be interesting to me. I have several high end hand crafted whistle which to me sound great. But they do not always hit the green light on a tuner at A 440.

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:19 pm 
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I have a Howard with the newer head. Tuning is excellent and it is very air efficient. Fairly big holes but I like that. It has a really unique tone. Somewhat reedy, but then you might expect that from a pipe-maker. All-in-all I reckon its an excellent whistle and worth trying if you are looking for one.


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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:39 am 
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Michael w6 wrote:
talking about just temperament and equal temperament if I recall the terms correctly. If you, or other readers can say a bit about this it would be interesting to me. I have several high end hand crafted whistle which to me sound great. But they do not always hit the green light on a tuner at A 440.


Sure, the terms are Just Intonation and Equal Temperament. "Temperament" because the notes are tempered or moved from their "just" locations.

Just Intonation (JI) has always been around, Pythagoras analysed it thousands of years ago. It's tuning based on the laws of acoustics, where every note of the scale is tuned according to the Harmonic Series, which is physics, and no-one can change it.

Anyone with a reasonably developed ear for relative pitch can hear whether an interval is clean and beatless (which we call "in tune") or if the notes beat against each other (which we call "out of tune").

Every note of the JI scale sounds perfectly in tune against the tonic note, which is why most types of bagpipes are tuned that way.

It's the way orchestra instruments and keyboards etc were tuned up into the Baroque period. Even today brass ensembles will hit their chords JI as will choirs who are singing without accompaniment.

But for keyboards and fretted instruments JI creates the problem that a JI scale is only in tune in one key. When music started modulating to different keys JI had to be "tempered" or adjusted. Equal Temperament is the somewhat artificial division of the chromatic octave into 12 equal intervals. Some of them are very close to JI, some are far enough out to sound clearly out of tune.

The reality is that for whistle JI and ET are very close to each other and people make a bigger issue of it than it really is. The differences between JI and ET are well within the range you can get by adjusting your blowing.

For a comparison between ET and JI, here's the scale of a D whistle tuned to JI over a D drone, and how each note differs from ET:

D: 0 (it's the tonic)
E: +4 cents
F#: -14 cents
G: -2 cents
A: +2 cents
B: -16 cents
C#: -12 cents

Only the three highlighted notes are different enough to be significant.

The open C# on whistles is nearly always a tad flat of ET, which is where you want it for JI.

The main notes at issue are F# and B. If your whistle is tuned ET all it takes is two bits of tape.

Here are whistles tuned to Just Intonation (left) and Equal Temperament (right)

Image

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
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Goldie Low D whistle


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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:18 am 
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So the differences in the highlighted pitches are considered acceptable? And yes to changing one's blowing strength I have discovered. I have been quite surprised at how distinctly different breath pressure is needed for different bore size within whistles of the same key and whistles of different keys. For instance after playing a high D for awhile, then switching to a Bb I have to remember, more air!

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:53 pm 
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@Richard.

That was the clearest explanation of JI and ET that I've seen. It really helps to have the photo of the two whistles as a visual guide. And the bolded highlighting that calls out F#, B and C#.

On my flute the open C# is too flat (maybe 20 cents), which is helped by venting the C-nat key, aside from needing to re-learn all my D-tunes. That simple adjustment makes playing in the key of D more pleasurable. I was wondering why I preferred the key of G. Venting C-nat doesn't quite pull C# into tune, but given that I'm playing a tune in D, your comments point out that is okay for the C# to be a little flat. My F# is pretty close to ET (hmmm, now I'll have to go confirm), but in any case, venting the F-nat key doesn't change it for me. I can see where another flute

By extension, the key of A in JI, tolerates a slightly flat C#, as that is the equivalent of the slightly flat F# in the key of D JI. But, a flat B note wouldn't be helpful in A. In the key of G, flat B is perhaps tolerable.


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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:05 am 
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Yes you've pointed out the note that perhaps is the conundrum in ITM, B.

There are a number of reasons.

One is that in the JI scale for D, B is the note furthest from its ET location, 16 cents flat.

If you want to hear how lovely a JI Major 6th can sound, listen to a good Highland piper on a well-set-up pipe. There are many airs that dwell on that note perhaps because it sounds so nice.

Tuning that note to ET on a Highland pipe sounds horrid. It demonstrates how out-of-tune an ET Major 6th is, and how we have learned to live with it. It's the dumbing-down effect on our ears of having so much ET music around us. Music as out of tune as our modern ET music wouldn't have been tolerated 300 years ago; their ears were accustomed to perfectly in-tune JI music.

Anyhow on the uilleann pipes likewise the B tuned JI -16 sounds great over the D drone, as it must do. Theory about scales doesn't matter because no matter what key the piper is playing in B is always heard over D.

From a theory side, B as the Major 6th in D at -16 and B as the Major 3rd in G at -14 are fine. But if you play in A, B is the Major 2nd and should be at +4, and if you're playing in E minor B is the perfect 5th and should be at +2.

The other thing is that tuning is relative, so if a solo piper is playing over his D drones then his chanter sounds best in a JI D scale. But if you're playing along with ET instruments like keyboards, fretted instruments, ET accordions etc then you're going to sound a bit more in tune if you're tuned to ET.

In reality the difference if fairly minor, and doesn't seem to worry anybody. My uilleann chanter plays right in tune at ET (which I need for many of my gigs) yet with the smallest adjustments in blowing my chanter is well in tune with my drones. B, which I have tuned ET, is the only note that's not acceptably JI on my chanter.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:15 am 
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Quote:
if a solo piper is playing over his D drones then his chanter sounds best in a JI D scale


Séamus Ennis is on record saying he considered G the home key of the pipes. I tend to agree, and I am not alone in that. It would certainly make the B sit more comfortably. I am not so sure all chanters are tuned to JI, there's a bit of compromise involved in the tuning/voicing of these things (with an eye to tone, colour, flexibitlity and things like that) depending on your pipemaker, I suppose.

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 Post subject: Re: Reviews?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:56 am 
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Is this awkward B the reason why in many European countries B is what English speakers call B flat (what English speakers call B, they call H)?


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