Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

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Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Jayhawk »

This may have been asked before, but my searching on the forum has come up blank (after a lot of interesting reading). That may mean this is a pipe dream...haha.

I love the sound of smallpipes and northumbrian pipes, but I'm hoping for an instrument suitable for playing with my Irish band. Quiet and mellow, key of D preferable, 2 octave range and ideally with a fingering close to Irish flute, which I play. I have heard northumbrian pipes described as having a devilish fingering system essentially designed to drive one nuts, but maybe that is just a false rumor.

Thoughts on possible pipes?

Thanks,

Eric
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by BigDavy »

The logical answer would be uilleann pipes, I cannot think of any set of pipes with flute fingering, maybe someone more familiar with eastern European bagpipes might know of one.

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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by MichaelLoos »

A cylindrical bore (therefore quiet) chanter like that of any smallpipes can not overblow into the octave, that's physically impossible. Which means, the only way to achieve a two octave range is by a crazy key system like that of the Northumbrian pipes or similar, resulting in complicated fingering.
The other thing is, any bagpipe being played like a flute will at best sound like a badly played bagpipe... bagpipes and flutes are completely different beasts, the only thing they have in common is the presence of finger holes, but the way and the general idea of playing is much different.
As Davy said, the closest you can get to your idea would be uilleann pipes, there are narrow bore pipes which are quieter than the standard concert pitch instruments, still playing in D - but these sound like uilleann pipes, not like smallpipes.
Although the fingering is different, the actual positioning of most of the tones is the same as on flute and whistle, meaning, A is under the top hand ring finger, F# is under bottom hand middle finger and so on.
However, you can't just go ahead and play away as you would on flute, this would result in sounding like bad uilleann piping - you will have to learn to play the instrument the way it should and needs to be be played.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Peter Duggan »

MichaelLoos wrote:A cylindrical bore (therefore quiet) chanter like that of any smallpipes can not overblow into the octave, that's physically impossible. Which means, the only way to achieve a two octave range is by a crazy key system like that of the Northumbrian pipes or similar, resulting in complicated fingering.
Lindsay System SSP. Based round standard SSP fingering for the standard SSP notes, but going much further (including some overblowing) without being crazy.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Jayhawk »

Any links to Lindsay system makers of SSP?

Being able to stand up while playing would be beneficial.

Totally familiar with uilleann pipes but was hoping for something a little quieter still with the ability to stand up and play...I have too many gigs in very small places. Had zero plans to play pipes like the flute, but seeing the northumbrian fingering system definitely hoped for something less bizarre. For example saxophone, which I played for decades, is similar to flute...but of course you don't play it like a flute because that would sound like crap.

Maybe that explains better why I am not over in the uilleann pipe forum.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Peter Duggan »

Jayhawk wrote:Any links to Lindsay system makers of SSP?
Start at https://lindstruments.com/products/lind ... em-chanter and maybe ask Donald Lindsay about the 'growing community of both makers and players'.

I have a modified* Lindsay System chanter to use with my Lochalsh SSPs, but think Cameron Stahl (MadmanWithaWhistle on here) has a complete set of Donald's pipes and has already done quite a lot with them, so you could also ask him how they're doing?

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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by BigDavy »

Lindstruments - you can get a Lindsay system chanter or a set of pipes from the maker.

If you wish to play standing up, then a pastoral chanter would be an alternative.

in your position I would buy the Daye practice set on eBay and see how you get on with it, that way if you don't like it you can re-sell it, and if you do it can be upgraded.

David

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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Juan Pablo Plata »

Jayhawk wrote:This may have been asked before, but my searching on the forum has come up blank (after a lot of interesting reading). That may mean this is a pipe dream...haha.

I love the sound of smallpipes and northumbrian pipes, but I'm hoping for an instrument suitable for playing with my Irish band. Quiet and mellow, key of D preferable, 2 octave range and ideally with a fingering close to Irish flute, which I play. I have heard northumbrian pipes described as having a devilish fingering system essentially designed to drive one nuts, but maybe that is just a false rumor.

Thoughts on possible pipes?

Thanks,

Eric

Hi, Jayhawk, I play flute, smallpipes, borderpipes and uilleann pipes. What you are looking for has a name: Uilleann pipes. No other bagpipe (except pastoral pipes) will give you 2 pleasant and well tuned octaves with moderate volume in D, sorry. But... they are difficult and a time consuming instrument (A LOT) compared to flute.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Jayhawk »

Juan...can you describe the volume and tonal difference between pastoral pipes and uilleann pipes? I believe pastoral can be played standing up, which would be a plus.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Peter Duggan »

Juan Pablo Plata wrote:No other bagpipe (except pastoral pipes) will give you 2 pleasant and well tuned octaves with moderate volume in D, sorry.
Lindsay System will, because it goes below the normal SSP six-finger A and seven-finger G to D, and for two octaves plus above that. But I'm not sure it's what Jayhawk's looking for because it's six-finger A rather than six-finger D.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Tjones »

I’m also a flute player that wanted to try the pipes. I bought a set of small pipes in D, but found that I really missed the two octaves, and wasn’t satisfied. When I started my search for pipes that would play two octaves, the Lindsay System wasn’t available. I ended up getting a set of pastoral pipes made by Geert Lejeune. They are very well made and I enjoy playing them!

I had some modifications made to my pastoral pipes, so that I could try a uilleann chanter with my drones, (with the idea of purchasing an uilleann chanter,) and I also added a regulator. But, after trying the uilleann chanters at a beginners workshop at Cascadia music week, I decided I was was fine with what I had.

The fingering for the pastoral pipe, is half closed in the first octave and open in the second, that means your right hand stays down for the notes A, B, C, and #C. Open for G. This is really nice for certain passages. Although it’s not super critical to keep the right hand down. I feel it’s very similar to the D flute, but because of the constant air flow from the bag, it’s not the same as playing the flute. The chanter isn’t fully chromatic, in that you don’t have Eb or a good G#. I added keys to get the G# and a better Bb. I hardly ever need the Eb or low C#. To jump the octave, Geert supplies an octave key, like a saxophone, although some pastoral pipes just use pressure.

When I first got the pipes I had an uilleann piper look at the set, and I was a bit louder then the boxwood set he had. He described my pastoral pipes as “robust”. But being around the other pipers at Cascadia, my chanter didn’t seam that much louder than the others.

I think the uilleann chanter offers a wider varied of sounds because it’s played off the knee, and it can be played staccato. I feel that the uilleann pipe is technically more challenging to play, though. Most of the uilleann pipers that have tried my pipes, have struggled playing them. I think they were trying to use the more complex finger of the uilleann pipe. On the other hand the one highland piper, that tried them (Callum Armstrong*), made them sound beautiful.

To me, the pastoral chanter has a more even, less varying sound. I feel I can play expressively with it and is enjoyable for me to play. I’ve played with other’s in small spaces and didn’t get kicked out. I been told that it has a very Flemish sound, Coming from Brugge, that’s understandable. (Geert also makes Flemish pipes.)

Had the Lindsay system pipes been available, I would have explored that option. To me, it has the small pipe sound, and you said that was something you like. I think they are very innovate! As a side note, when I played my small pipes a loud room with other musicians, I couldn’t hear myself. I don’t know how the Lindsay system would be for volume.


The other thing that may be of concern would be the costs, and availability of the pipes. With the Lindsay system pipes, there is one maker. With the pastoral pipes I’m aware of just three. The uilleann pipes on the other hand has many more makers to chose from. The Lindsay system pipes, I think are the least expansive, and seem to be well made. The pastoral pipes, will be at least the same or more than a good half set of uilleann pipes.

Another option possibly for small pipes that plays two octaves, would be the one Julian Goodacre and Callum Armstrong have developed. This instrument over blows a 12th, and uses keys. I’m not sure how much Julian is promoting this instrument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uWM6ED1UOk
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Tjones »

I should have included this link ~ It's the one that got me hooked on the Pastoral pipes!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZMFuUycwfs

As you can see, he's playing in a very small room.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Jayhawk »

I am leaning towards the pastoral pipes...I think they'd do well for both Irish and Breton tunes!!

Thanks for the info!
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by The Sporting Pitchfork »

I have to be uncharacteristically blunt here: if pastoral pipes were so well-suited for ITM, then a hell of a lot more people would be playing and making them.

That's not to say that they _can't_ be used for ITM or that they don't sound nice when used for ITM (or other music for that matter), but the uilleann pipes work so much better. Before you spend a significant amount of money acquiring a set of pastoral pipes, track someone down who already has a set and try them out. Better yet, embark on a mystic quest to try all of the crazy bagpipes out there that people have mentioned so far in this thread and pick the one you like the best (or hate the least--YMMV).

I think there's a lot of unfortunate and misplaced anxiety about the uilleann pipes being somehow more difficult than other types of pipes. I play GHB, SSP, UP, and flute, and I do not think this is the case. They can be equally rewarding and challenging in their own special ways. If you have a good instrument and a good teacher, the uilleann pipes needn't cause you any grief.

If you want to play ITM on pipes, you will not find a bellows-blown bagpipe better suited for ITM than uilleann pipes. If you want to play Northumbrian tunes, Northumbrian pipes are definitely the way to go. (The fingering system is closed, meaning you only lift one finger at a time. However, if you have a lot of keys on your chanter--which you would probably need if you wanted to play much besides the core Northumbrian repertoire--you would have to get used to being pretty dextrous with your thumbs.)

I'd love to get my hands on a Lindsay chanter someday, but while it sounds great and opens up a lot of exciting doors for Scottish pipers, there's no way it would ever be as well suited to playing Irish music as uilleann pipes already are. As I said, pastoral pipes _can_ sound very nice for playing ITM, but there are some good reasons why the pastoral pipes gave way to the on-the-knee union/uilleann pipes, and these reasons have not been totally addressed in the modern pastoral sets being made now, improved though they may be. The ability of the uilleann pipe chanter to be closed on the knee is, in my view, crucial to be able to play ITM in a tasteful way. Just playing the chanter open with no ability to stop between notes sounds, well, slobbery. This is not a tight-fingering vs. open fingering thing either. Listen to "open style" uilleann pipers like Johnny and Felix Doran--even they stopped the chanter on the knee between notes every now and then. Pastoral pipes do not give you this option, and the clusters of gracenotes that Scottish pipers employ to give the illusion of space between notes don't always sound nice on them either. Pastoral pipe chanters generally have a more nasal tone than uilleann pipe chanters--not necessarily louder, but more nasal, say, halfway between uilleann pipes and border pipes. If the sound of NSP and SSP is what you like best, pastoral pipes are going in the opposite direction.

Again, yes, you ABSOLUTELY can play Irish traditional music on a number of different bagpipes if you really want to. You can also eat a burrito with chopsticks if you really want to. The choice is yours.

Take some time to _really_ think hard about what you want to do with the pipes you want and how much time, effort, and money you're willing to spend. Trust me, if there were a kind of pipes that genuinely worked better for playing ITM than uilleann pipes, you'd have a line of uilleann pipers out the door desperate to get their hands on them.
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Re: Quiet, 2 octave pipes...suitable for ITM

Post by Jayhawk »

Good food for thought Mr. Pitchfork. I have been a bit turned off by uilleann pipes due to a piper at the local session I run...his at least are much louder than expected (nearly border pipe volume). It could just be the way he plays, though...maybe? Or it could also be that uilleann pipes are just louder than I like, which likely means pastoral pipes in person would be the same.

Eric
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