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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:24 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:05 am
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Location: Hamburg, Germany
Hi All,

Does anyone have experience with these? I was at a workshop at the weekend with a table full of these made by Matthias Branschke and they seemed an instrument quite well suited to playing with others. Volume, range and ease of playing. Obviously the repertoire and keys are decided by the limitations of the instrument, but they seem to offer fairly good possibilities for ensemble/session playing. Obviously not the Irish stuff though a fair bit of Scottish repertoire could be played on them, only a tone lower, in G.

I played some of the sets for a while in the cellar and found it quite intuitive for a Scottish piper, though the overblown notes were new. And I played with a number of other people using them (me on flute, others on fiddle etc.), so now I am in the well-understood situation of flirting with the idea of possibly buying another instrument...

Questions:

1. I was obviously looking at Matthias' instruments and the name Torsten Tetz was also mentioned. Is there anyone else that I really should be looking at before I decided on a purchase? (I am in Hamburg, so the German makers are probably my starting point.)
2. I could go mouth blown or I could get the bellows pipe made to fit my existing bellows (from SSP). How much difference do the bellows make with these pipes? The reeds are plastic. Worth sacrificing the simplicity of a smallish mouth blown instrument?
3. There is an introductory instrument made by both of those makers which is mouth blown with one bass drone, chanter and bag - they are quite a lot cheaper than 2 drone or even more complex pipes, and do not support the options of keys. But, they could well be a good idea for getting started? Again, any experiences?
4. Torsten Tetz offers rentals of his student model - this at the moment is probably where I would start if I go down this road.
5. How maintenance intensive are they? Several of the players I spoke to never seemed to touch or even look at their chanter reeds and expected to send the pipes back to the maker for overhaul/retuning every couple of years. Does that work? I did not notice many gross tuning problems with any of those I heard being played, though I was only playing with a couple of players myself.

Thanks for your comments,

Chris.

Finally, does anyone know where the commonly used used instrument exchanges for these might be found?

_________________
19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:48 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:05 pm
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Hi,

I have a little experience.

Cornemuse du midi I believe simply means Bagpipe in French, France has many different kinds of bagpipes around the country. I've had a go at two sets, both had two thumb holes and a lot of cross fingering making around 18+ different notes. one was closed fingering and the other open. Very beautiful sounding instrument but also very complicated to play compared to the Highland Bagpipes.

Germany has a number of bagpipes, Marktsack which are a set of Great Pipes and very loud, the Schäferpfeife which are medium sized and the Hummelchen which are small pipes. Germans tend to put recorder fingering on their bagpipes which makes them very versatile. Usually, they come in one of two combinations. Single thumb hole in which produces 11 notes, basically all the modes except the Mixolydian are achievable as well as the harmonic and melodic minors (pretty good for only 11 notes), but the main scale is the Dorian. The second thumb hole option adds a twelfth note and changes the main scale to the major scale.

I've had a go at the Marktsack and the Hummelchen, but not the Schäferpfeife yet. The Hummelchen is very quiet and can be played with other instruments, it also costs 1/3 the price of the pipes you are looking at and could be a better option than an introductory or student set. I can recommend some makers if you like.

I learnt on the Highland Pipes but nowadays play the Medieval. I have no experience of bellows but all pipes are easier to blow than the Highland. I also have plastic reeds. The idea with plastic drone reeds is they need no maintenance whatsoever, the maker sets them up and you never touch them. I didn't find this my first drone stopped working after 4 months and I had to set it up again. Unlike wooden reeds it was so simple though, I'm never going back. Plastic chanter reeds seem no more efficient than wooden ones, their advantage lays in them being moisture resistant. They also need regular adjustment as the bridle will vibrate out of position.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:31 pm 
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One more thing I forgot. The biggest difference I notice between rustic pipes and Highland ones is the tuning pins on the drones are made of wood. They are pretty tight and wood is an abrasive material so when in place it's hard to move them. This means when you tune it's a little more difficult and you have to jerkily twist the drones into tune, a little awkward. However once in tune they don't move, you can bang them, pack them, travel with them and sometimes up to a month later they are still in tune, just pick you pipes and play anytime. Also when they do go out of tune most of the time it a quick 1mm modification and they're back in tune. Whoever thought making these things out of metal was an improvement needs shooting.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:53 am
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Location: Burgdorf near Hanover, germany
I have never heard of a cornemuse du midi - you probably mean cornemuse du centre (central French bagpipe).
Technically, cornemuse du centre and Schäferpfeife are more or less identical, only design and setup are different - Schäferpfeife has its two drones pointing forwards, while cornemuse has the bass drone over the shoulder and the tenor parallel to the chanter, in a common stock.
Most common pitch for both is G (in french called "16 pouces", which refers to the length of the chanter), the chanter giving a range of an octave plus one tone below and three overblown tones, so the overall range is from f to c'. Most semitones can be achieved by crossfingering.
Matthias Branschke and Torsten Tetz are among the best makers for Schäferpfeifen, they both learned from Andreas Rogge. Another name worth mentioning would be Bodo Schulz.
There are a good few makers in Holland and Belgium, Jan Soete, Frans Hattink and Paul Beekhuizen come into my mind, and of course Rémy Dubois, whose workshop is being continued by Olle Geris.
Among the French makers, Bernard Blanc, Sege Durin, Arnaud Guenzi are probably the most well-known ones. Last but by no means least, Jonathan Swayne and Alban Faust both make excellent instruments of that type.
If you choose the traditional mouth blown version or use the bellows-blown one is up to your own preference - I can't see any advantage or draw-back in either, no matter if you prefer plastic or cane reeds.
The cheaper student models offered by both Matthias and Torsten are fully playable instruments, the lower price results from simpler design and the omitment of the second drone, which also forgoes the necessity of a more complicated drone stock. No chanter keys (which are not traditional, anyway) means, F# and G# in the low octave are not playable - all other semitones are there, including high F# and G#.
As for maintenance - if you don't touch your reed, you won't break it... :wink: my own Schäferpfeife is the least maintenance intensive bagpipe of all I have.
For used instruments, you might have a look here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sackpfeifenboerse/ or here: http://sackpfeifenclub.de/

As for ælfléoð's comments - Schäferpfeifen generally do not have recorder fingering, they have half-closed fingering, same as French cornemuse. The second thumb hole is for the minor third.
Dorian scale is the main scale of the Marktsack, not Schäferpfeife, and single thumb hole bagpipes can achieve a mixolydian scale as well - in fact, mixolydian seems to be the most widespread bagpipe scale of all. Hümmelchen is a totally different bagpipe altogether and is of no help as a starter instrument for Schäferpfeife.
The tuning pins of the Highland pipes are also wooden, metal sleeves are purely decorative, and like on any other bagpipe, there is a thread packing on the pin where it goes into the slide. If you have to jerkily twist the drone in tune, the threading is too tight, nothing else.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:05 am
Posts: 350
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Thank you, both of you. I have negotiated an instrument rental from Matthias Branschke for one of his student instruments. That should give me time and opportunity to answer the most important question; will I play the thing or not? The rental instrument will be mouth blown with one drone over the shoulder. What, or if, I buy later remains open. The instrument still needs to be made, so we are talking about starting in March sometime...

The low maintenance also appeals to me since I have too many instruments and keeping some in playing condition with relatively little use can often make the difference of playing at all.

The links in Michaels Mail are also interesting. Thank you for those.

_________________
19th October, 2012:
Flute: Rookery
Flute: Musical Priest
Flute: Swinging on the Gate
Flute: Sally Gardens
4th June 2012:
Flute: Rolling in the Ryegrass, Green Gates
2 April, 2012:
Smallpipes: The Meeting of the Waters. Corn Riggs
Smallpipes: Mrs Hamilton of Pithcaithland


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
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