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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:05 am 
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Hello!

I'm saving-up to buy a set of Walsh smallpipes and begin the learning journey to play these incredible pipes and I had a few questions for anyone further along this path -

1. Are there good books or on-line resources for beginner smallpipers (with material specific to the SSP) or do raw beginners typically look to GHB books and tutorials and somehow adapt this to the SSP? I live in Hawaii, which feels about as far removed as possible from any Celtic music communities and will not typically have access to lessons, sessions, or in-person support. I know on-line and Skype lessons are possible, but my finances won't allow that and I would prefer to begin with a good book (or website) if one is out there...

2. I do play the tin whistle have some experience with traditional Irish music, and I have had some success with using ABC notation and MIDI sound files to begin learning tunes - is there a database or other on-line collection of ABC tunes for the SSPs?

3. I know this is a very ignorant question, but can any GHB tunes be played on the SSPs (assuming both sets of pipes are in the same key)? Are there differences in fingering and musical scale between the GHB and SSP in the same key (besides spacing on the chanter)? And is a typical GHB practice chanter suitable for practicing SSP tunes?

4. Besides books, do you have any other recommendations for approaching the smallpipes and learning some initial tunes, particularly for a raw beginner like myself? I have a pretty decent feel for some Irish jigs and reels on the whistle, but I anticipate translation to pipes being pretty challenging...

Thank you all for your time in reading this and offering whatever advice you can! I am certain that I will embark on this learning journey but I'd like to be as prepared as possible because I know it won't be easy!

Rich


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:26 am 
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moonlitnarwhal wrote:
1. Are there good books or on-line resources for beginner smallpipers (with material specific to the SSP)

Vicki Swan's Tutor for the Scottish Smallpipes.
LBPS More Power to Your Elbow (out of stock and possibly out of print, but videos still available online).

Quote:
3. I know this is a very ignorant question, but can any GHB tunes be played on the SSPs (assuming both sets of pipes are in the same key)? Are there differences in fingering and musical scale between the GHB and SSP in the same key (besides spacing on the chanter)? And is a typical GHB practice chanter suitable for practicing SSP tunes?

Yes, the scale and fingering are the same (apart from GHB pitch being nominal with an A typically between Bb and B), and all GHB tunes can be played. But some may be more effective than others, particularly where they exploit the balance between low and high with GHB high As (for example) being relatively quiet. And, yes, a GHB practice chanter is suitable.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:04 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Yes, the scale and fingering are the same (apart from GHB pitch being nominal with an A typically between Bb and B), and all GHB tunes can be played. But some may be more effective than others, particularly where they exploit the balance between low and high with GHB high As (for example) being relatively quiet.


Yes there are a number of GHB tunes that use High A's tendency to disappear into the drones when placed between low-hand notes to create an illusion of staccato

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJIQEnyKE0I

On SSPs High A is more or less the same volume as the other notes and these tunes have a different effect.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:50 am 
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moonlitnarwhal wrote:

1. Are there good books or on-line resources for beginner smallpipers (with material specific to the SSP) or do raw beginners typically look to GHB books and tutorials and somehow adapt this to the SSP?


All of the people I know who play Scottish Smallpipe played GHB first.

There's no reason you can't learn SSP on it's own though. The fingering is easier, because with GHB if you don't close the bottom hand the notes will be out of tune, but with SSP it doesn't generally seem to matter. That is, you can use open fingering like on whistle. You can also use fully closed fingering too for a lot of stuff and it works fine. That definitely doesn't work on GHB.


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2. I do play the tin whistle have some experience with traditional Irish music, and I have had some success with using ABC notation and MIDI sound files to begin learning tunes - is there a database or other on-line collection of ABC tunes for the SSPs?


I don't know about SSP specific repositories, but GHB music mostly uses BWW or BMW format (same thing), which is just like ABC, except it's different ;-) There is a program that will translate though. BWW2ABC. There are thousands of GHB tunes in that format. You can also find a freeware program that will read the BWW files directly. Since the notes are the same, and the fingering can be the same, you can play any GHB tune on SSP. Some of them won't sound as good.

You can ignore or make use of the grace notes as you see fit. It seems like many SSP players use F gracenotes instead of G as the basic articulation. Some SSP player argue that tunes with a lot of bottom hand gracenotes sound muddy on SSP.

If you can read sheet music, you can find more tunes than you can ever learn (7000+ settings) at ceolsean.net. It's an archive of public domain bagpipe music books.

BWW2ABC is here:
http://moinejf.free.fr/

BagPipe software:
http://r.fifi.free.fr/BagPipe/english.htm


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:23 pm 
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highland-piper wrote:
All of the people I know who play Scottish Smallpipe played GHB first.

I didn't. Lots of people didn't. It just depends who you know and where you're coming from, and there are sound arguments to look beyond Highland repertoire and style even coming (as I did) to SSP with substantially Highland background or motivation...

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There's no reason you can't learn SSP on it's own though.

No reason why GHB experience should be considered necessary at all. While there are many decent pipers playing Highland repertoire well on SSP, converts may also typically be looking at their SSP with blinkers and/or bringing unnecessary baggage.

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Master of nine?


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