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Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes
http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=96047
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Author:  ckrusor [ Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

I'm able to tune the drones on my Garvie A smallpipes to B/f#/b, but I haven't been able to achieve a consonant sound between the chanter and the drones in that arrangement.

I first tune the chanter, making any necessary reed adjustments, by ear and using Audacity's spectrum analysis function (with drones corked). I confirm that all chanter notes are within a couple of Hz of the target frequencies on the just intonation scale. And I confirm by ear that the scale sounds neither sharp nor flat. I then tune the drones to the chanter in the A/e/a or A/d/a scheme and it all sounds great. A warm sound with great consonance at A and e or A and d and no unexpected dissonance anywhere on the scale.

Then I attempt to tune the drones at B/f#/b, and I can get good consonance at b on the chanter or f# but not both. I then recheck the spectrograms for the chanter and the drones and all the notes are where they should be, but I still can't get both the b and the f# notes on the chanter to be simultaneously in tune with the B/f#/b drones. When the chanter B is in tune with the drones, the f# is badly dissonant and can be brought closer by increasing air pressure (the chanter f# is too flat). If I adjust the drones to tune with the chanter f#, then the chanter B sounds badly dissonant, but gets closer by letting off the air pressure (the chanter b is too sharp).

It isn't clear to me why everything should be in tune when the drones are sounding A/e/a, but then the chanter f# is flat (or the chanter b is sharp) when the drones are sounding B/f#/b. Any ideas?

Here is a good example of drones "tuned to B" (presumably B/f#/b) sounding good (chanter b and f# are both consonant with the drones):

http://theotherpipers.org/index/wp-cont ... arra_B.mp3

Author:  bepoq [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

are you adjusting your tuner to offer just intonation intervals from B? I'd have thought that the the scale based on just intonation from fundamental A would not be the same as that based on just intonation fundamental B, would it?

Author:  highland-piper [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

ckrusor wrote:
I'm able to tune the drones on my Garvie A smallpipes to B/f#/b, but I haven't been able to achieve a consonant sound between the chanter and the drones in that arrangement.


I wouldn't think you could. It just seems like it ought to be really dissonant.

I'll listen to that recording later when I have decent speakers.

I've never tried to tune my ssp drones to B, but I'll give it a shot. I'm thinking at least the bass ought to go that high because it's got two tuning slides.

Author:  stanton135 [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

The problem is that your chanter's B and F#, when they're properly tuned to the pipe scale, are out of tune with each other. The B should be +4 cents of ET to sound best against an A drone, and your F# should be -16 cents of ET to sound best against an A drone. This makes a fifth that is 680 cents wide--much too narrow.

One thing you could try is some masking tape over the upper end of your B hole, to bring B down from +4 to around -18 cents. Then you could tune the drones to that, and I'd expect that it would sound much better--except for your E. Now that one'll scream. Some masking tape could potentially fix that too. Just thinking aloud here...

Author:  highland-piper [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

I could successfully tune my bass and tenor to B, but the middle won't go all the way to F# so I stopped it and just played the chanter against the Bs.

I found that my my low-a was dissonant the way low-g normally is. F was in tune, E was a little sharp and I could bring it into tune by shading it with my finger. The other notes seemed neither in tune nor out, just sort of there. Maybe there just aren't enough harmonics for those notes to either be consonant or dissonant?

Cutty's Wedding sounded OK. Other tunes not so much. I was thinking Farewell to Nigg might go well, but I couldn't remember how it went :-(

Author:  ckrusor [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

Yes, Farewell to Nigg sounds good when played against drones tuned to B in the sound clip near the bottom on this page:

http://theotherpipers.org/index/?p=956

The sound clip in my original post is from that same page. That article, by Ralph Loomis, advocates alternative drone tuning and has some good examples of drones tuned to B that are consonant with the chanter and have a great sound.

Author:  ckrusor [ Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Problems when tuning drones to B/f#/b on A smallpipes

Stanton, thanks for that explanation. I considered using a wire rush or some other trick to bring down the pitch of the B on the chanter. I have found several examples online of SSPs producing a beautiful sound with drones tuned to B, so it is possible. I don't know if they are b/d/b, b/f#/b, or b/b (or some other scheme). In the Farewell to Nigg and Farewell to Barra examples in Ralph Loomis's article, the F#, D, and B on the chanter all sound consonant with the drones. I'd like to know how he and others do it.

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