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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:25 am 
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If by "folk instruments" you mean those instruments we come across in the folk (or traditional) world then we might need to consider the guitar, the banjo, the accordion, the concertina and other keyboard instruments which are generally tuned to Equal Temperament, but all the drone accompanied instruments should be tuned in a way that compliments the drones. But what does one do with the chanter scale (temperament) when the instrument has drones that are adjustable and the chanter is fully chromatic , like the Northumbrian Small Pipes ?

I prefer to use a natural scale of notes for the Irish Pipes and about 30 years ago I wrote about this in An Piobaire and used the term Just Intonation, but I am not entirely sure that is the correct title for a gammut of natural intervals which all relate to a single drone note. Once the piper wishes to join with others who play Equal Tempered instruments then some modification to the natural scale is needed either by fingering changes or physical modifications to the instrument.


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:37 am 
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Tuning must be one of the most mysterious bits of the pipemakers' art. So many variables and so much more easily demonstrated than described.

There's a nice bit of writing left to us from a late 18th century "commonplace book" scribbled down by an anonymous person and now in the NLI - I like to imagine that they were writing it down while Mr. Kenna attempted to put into words the sort of thing he was building:

Quote:
"The modern Irish bagpipes consists of a chanter with 7 holes on vantages, some of these holes are double. The lowest note is D in the tenor clef...the highest is C in the Treble Cleff. The chorus consists of 4 drones, the smallest of which sounds in unison to the A the fifth note on the chanter, the 2nd sounds a third to the first and in unison to the F the third hole on the chanter and a fifth C the highest note in the chanter. The third sounds an octave to the 3rd hole in the chanter and the 4th a double octave to the F and an octave to the 3rd.


Confusing eh?


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:46 am 
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geoff wooff wrote:
I don't know quite what you mean, Ennischanter, by 'Most "Folk instruments".... but most folk instruments I come across are tuned to Equal Temperament ... including various Pipes!

I can't resist responding to this interesting comment. I don't think it's possible to tune any stringed instruments to ET, although guitars can be made to approximate it much more closely than, say, fiddles, where the Pythagorean tuning of the fifths makes ET, strictly speaking, impossible. (In passing, there's a very interesting effect that happens on a fiddle where, if you try to play certain notes at the same time as others, as double stopping, you will find that one or other of those notes will need to be played at a slightly different pitch from the one that would be used when playing that note alone, as part of a melodic line.) Whistles and flutes are not tuned in ET - although I'm aware that some whistles are tuned to an approximation of ET. And uilleann pipes, traditionally, are not tuned to ET, although, as you say, there are some funny scales out there with pipes, so maybe not quite JI.

Sorry for the digression. As you were! :)

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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:29 am 
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geoff wooff wrote:
If by "folk instruments" you mean those instruments we come across in the folk (or traditional) world then we might need to consider the guitar, the banjo, the accordion, the concertina and other keyboard instruments which are generally tuned to Equal Temperament, but all the drone accompanied instruments should be tuned in a way that compliments the drones.
But what does one do with the chanter scale (temperament) when the instrument has drones that are adjustable and the chanter is fully chromatic , like the Northumbrian Small Pipes ?




"folk" Instruments is a pretty vague term you are right about that, just poor wording, I am not really good with words so forgive me Mr. Wooff, I should have said "really really old" instead :P



And good question, would newer built Northumbrian small-pipes be tuned to Equal Temperament since they are pretty much chromatic? I don't really know about them, if the older types had adjustable drones or not, and if so, were they made to tune to Just Intonation? Hmmmmmm...

The French Musette de cour has adjustable drones too. Neat stuff





(Slightly off topic: An interesting thing to note, in the Prelude to Wagner's Das Rheingold, which has drone music, the Bassoons and French horns which are tuned to Equal Temperament are never completely in tune to the droning Double Basses when they play a broken Eb chord, I always found that interesting :) )

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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:46 am 
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Northumbrian chanters are also tuned to just temperament I believe - the chromatic stuff is tweaked to get the best result possible under the circumstances


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:01 am 
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geoff wooff wrote:
If by "folk instruments" you mean those instruments we come across in the folk (or traditional) world then we might need to consider the guitar, the banjo, the accordion, the concertina and other keyboard instruments which are generally tuned to Equal Temperament, but all the drone accompanied instruments should be tuned in a way that compliments the drones. But what does one do with the chanter scale (temperament) when the instrument has drones that are adjustable and the chanter is fully chromatic , like the Northumbrian Small Pipes ?

I prefer to use a natural scale of notes for the Irish Pipes and about 30 years ago I wrote about this in An Piobaire and used the term Just Intonation, but I am not entirely sure that is the correct title for a gammut of natural intervals which all relate to a single drone note. Once the piper wishes to join with others who play Equal Tempered instruments then some modification to the natural scale is needed either by fingering changes or physical modifications to the instrument.


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:32 am 
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[quote="geoff wooff"]
I prefer to use a natural scale of notes for the Irish Pipes and about 30 years ago I wrote about this in An Piobaire and used the term Just Intonation, but I am not entirely sure that is the correct title for a gammut of natural intervals which all relate to a single drone note.

Your insights are always appreciated Geoff. I'm curious about the notion that there are different ways of tuning a chanter to the drones. Without using a tuner, in simply listening for the perfect harmonious feeling I get when a chanter note is 'in tune' with the drones, I was always assuming, like the ancient Greeks, that I was experiencing some deep universal perfection and basic physics of waves. Is there a different way of setting up the chanter? I suppose using scale notes from non-Western cultures?

Of course, all this Greek and Uilleann pipe perfection was ruined by the compromises of the piano and ultimately the ill temperament (in character) of modern composers with their notion that music should reflect the ugliness of the modern world.

Another thought.....funny that the modern electronic piano doesn't have a 'just intonation' setting for each scale so it can play in tune with the perfectly tuned pipes :-)

Happy Piping,

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:21 am 
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CaperMike wrote:

Another thought.....funny that the modern electronic piano doesn't have a 'just intonation' setting for each scale so it can play in tune with the perfectly tuned pipes :-)

Happy Piping,

Mike



I actually think there are some electric keyboards out there that do that very thing. :D



And yes, it is very satisfying when my chanter is tuned in Just Temperament to my electronic drone sound, now I know what those pipers mean when they talk about "voice sounds" it's kind of eerie, but really cool!

I recall listening to Ennis play "The Frieze Britches" on my loudspeakers, and thought someone was humming, but it was just the chanter and drones harmonizing, making that cool effect, also the speakers exaggerate the effect as well I think. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:43 am 
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Variable Pitch control plus several programmed temperaments and one or two 'self' programable temperaments would make a nice keyboard for playing with the pipes. Something like this is probably available and I'd love to have this facility on my concertina.

I have an automatic device for staying in tune with my Pipes... my wife on the Fiddle :D .

One primary deviation from published versions of Just Intonation is the Perfect Flat Seventh which I like to use for the C natural in the low octave. This allows a beautifull harmony with the drones but being 29 cents flat of an equal tempered C it also allows room ( in pitch height) for the piper's C, much favoured by Willie Clancy.


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:37 am 
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geoff wooff wrote:
One primary deviation from published versions of Just Intonation is the Perfect Flat Seventh which I like to use for the C natural in the low octave. This allows a beautifull harmony with the drones but being 29 cents flat of an equal tempered C it also allows room ( in pitch height) for the piper's C, much favoured by Willie Clancy.

I've heard of the "piper's C" before. Have you got a figure in cents for it, Geoff?


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:39 am 
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Oh, I forgot to ask about fingering the piper's C. How's that done?


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:56 am 
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Driftwood wrote:
Oh, I forgot to ask about fingering the piper's C. How's that done?


By slowly uncurling the index finger of the top hand to various degrees as you finger C natural. Clancy was the master of this (among recorded pipers anyway).


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:21 am 
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From memory in "The Dance Music of Willie Clancy" Pat Mitchell describes Willie's method of achieving a Piper's C . It is perhaps not possible to ascribe a figure in Cents for this note as it is as much a slide as a fixed position tone. Starting from somewhere below C, perhaps as much as coming from B, the two index fingers are uncurled as the chanter is gradually raised. The pitch rises slowly, within the confines of the note length availability, and finishes perhaps slightly sharp of an equal tempered C.


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 Post subject: Re: Brag Angus B set
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:21 am 
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I've tried studying the few small bits of film available of Clancy to try and get some insight into how he does it. He does seem to have exceptionally relaxed hands and keeps his fingers quite close to the chanter, handy for note shading purposes. Getting there with the C, but that howling f / f sharp of his continues to elude me.

Maybe another 20 years or so should do it


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