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Smallpipe bass drones: 2 segments or 3? Any difference?
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Author:  ckrusor [ Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:07 am ]
Post subject:  Smallpipe bass drones: 2 segments or 3? Any difference?

I think there is a thread somewhere in the archive here that drifted onto this topic, but I can't find it now. In any case, I have seen debates about alleged differences between the sound characteristics of 2-segment vs. 3-segment bass drones for smallpipes. My Garvie set has a 3-segment bass drone. I've never played or heard in person a set with a 2-segment bass. I wouldn't expect the sound to differ much.

This article from Mark Huckvale's lab at University College London suggests that the number of tuning chambers (one vs. two) might actually make a difference in the intonation:

http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/mark/vowels/

A tube with internal features like a 2-segment drone (one chamber), when sounded with a single-tongue reed, gives a sound resembling the vocal vowel sound "IH" (a soft i, as in "bit"). A tube with internal features like a 3-segment drone (two chambers), gives a sound resembling the vowel sound "oo". The two tubes described in the article differ in length (16 vs 18 cm), so that might contribute somewhat to the difference in sound. Although an 8/9 length ratio is not a very big difference, and I would expect to see that much difference among bass drones on different sets.

I thought this might be of interest to someone since I saw it debated in an older thread.

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallpipe bass drones: 2 segments or 3? Any difference?

Thing is, the "bass drone" on an SSP is actually a tenor, that is, one octave below the chanter bellnote. It was the same, I'm pretty sure, on the D NSP set I used to own.

If three-section tenor drones sound better, I wonder why the makers of uilleann pipes and Highland pipes didn't discover it long ago.

Author:  highland-piper [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallpipe bass drones: 2 segments or 3? Any difference?

pancelticpiper wrote:

If three-section tenor drones sound better, I wonder why the makers of uilleann pipes and Highland pipes didn't discover it long ago.


Perhaps it is the relationship of the drones to each other that is the important criteria, and not the relationship of the drone to the chanter. That is, maybe having the lowest pitch drone have three segments is superior whether it is one octave, or two below the chanter.

The drones, after all, function as a group. It doesn't matter what any given drone sounds like on it's own, only how they all sound together (or together in whatever configuration they are to be used in) and mainly then only when the chanter (or some other melody instrument) is going.

Author:  elbowmusic [ Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallpipe bass drones: 2 segments or 3? Any difference?

Interesting stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if, everything else being equal, a two segment drone would sound different than a three segment. I've never tested it myself. All the two segment bass drones I've seen (not very many) were of the smaller bore variety. Mine are the larger bore variety, so it wasn't a direct comparison.

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