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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:34 pm 
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I'd like to achieve a high A sound that is quiet and fades into the background under the drones. My current chanter and reed are tuned to my liking in every other respect but the high A is like a siren. It is a nice, consonant note and it is tuned well to the drones and the rest of the chanter scale, but it is too prominent for my taste. It sounds like there is a tiny bullhorn on the high A hole. I would accept a little bit of crow or other undesirable side effects if I could get that note to quiet down a bit. Has anyone else any experience with this?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:10 pm 
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While I don't think your high A should be 'like a siren', I doubt you'll get it to be 'quiet and fade into the background' when cylindrical SSP chanters tend to get louder at the top where conical GHB and border chanters trend the other way.

See More Power to Your Elbow, p16:
'For some tunes staccato can also be simulated by moving to high A between each note when playing the Border pipes, and to low A between each note on the Scottish smallpipes.'

And p33:
'On smallpipes the notes on the top hand are relatively loud, while low A is quiet. The Border pipe with its conical chanter is the reverse.'

Which suggests to me that you might just be looking for an unobtainable GHB/border pipe effect?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Thanks for that input, Peter. You're right that I'm wishing for some of the characteristics of a conical bore chanter. I would love to have a SSP chanter with a slightly conical bore that mellows the top hand notes but retains the warm, low-volume sound of my current chanter. Such a thing might violate physical laws, I guess.

Even for smallpipes, though, mine seem to play a particularly assertive high A. I was wondering if some adjustment might make a difference, like adding wax to the high A hole, or choosing a longer/shorter chanter reed, etc.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:31 am 
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I'm playing vintage SSPs with a new blackwood John Walsh smallpipe chanter in "A" and there's no problem with high A.

High A seems to be well balanced with the rest of the scale, and Highland tunes that alternate High A with low notes work fine. High A sweetly blends with the drones like the other notes.

True of course that it's not like on the Highland pipes, where High A has less volume than the low notes; plus the semi-crow-ish High A oddly blends with the drones and somehow sort of disappears into the drones' harmonics, so that with these tunes that have low notes alternating with High A the low notes appear to pop out detached/staccato.

I wonder if part of the problem is insufficient harmonics coming from the drones?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:14 am 
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I like my high-a, but if I wanted it to be quieter I would tape it from the bottom of the hole. Making the hole smaller should reduce it's volume. It will also flatten it some, so you'll need to sink the reed and probably tape the top of the F & G a hair.

But I don't think you'll ever get it to fade into the drones the way a quiet A can on GHB.


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