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 Post subject: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 1:48 pm 
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I was listening to Tabhair dom do Lámh on the Liam O'Flynn documentary and wondered if youse have any advice on how to reliably get the staccato high Bs there. I tried various ways when I was learning Lord Mayo but never quite managed.


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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:29 am 
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For me it's a very difficult technique.

Paddy Moloney makes it sound easy, he plays that same string of High B's staccato.

Remember that some of these pipers from the older generation studied under Leo Rowsome, who had immense technique and stressed technical competency when teaching.

If you can, get Leo Rowsome's Tutor for the Uilleann Pipes.

He diagrammes exactly how to do those staccato high B's.

He says, in his Notes on the Staccato Scale of D:

The four higher notes (second-octave A, B, C, and D) which are very difficult, and should not be attempted at first, require additional explanation.

In the case of A, the F finger is opened just an instant before both it and the A finger are snapped.

B is made similarly by using the F finger as a vent, then snapping it and the third and second fingers of the upper hand instantly.

Both A and B can also be produced by throwing off the two upper fingers of the lower hand as the required fingers of the upper hand are raised.

C must, however, be producted by using the F vent (G is not lifted).

The top D is the most difficult staccato note to produce correctly; it is obtained as follows, and the movements, though described in detail, are most rapidly performed.

Lift the F finger vent as before, and immediately run up the three top fingers of the upper handto the top front note, and, on uncovering the top front note, leave only the top front note and the F vent open
. (BTW this is the non-keyed High D, not using the High D key.)

I will say that my chanter has a rather difficult High B, and I've got into the habit of venting it all the time, on the "attack" of the note.

Unlike what Rowsome teaches, I use the G finger as a vent, near-instantaneously cracking open the G hole and uncurling off the A and B fingers in sequence to hit High B. For High C natural it's the same, in sequence cracking open the G, A, and B holes then opening the C key. As Rowsome says it's done near-instantaneously, and you only really hear the high note appearing.

Now, for Give Me Your Hand on flute, whistle, or uilleann pipes I don't play that series of staccato High B's, rather I do a legato phrase with rolls.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:01 am 
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A good reed goes a long way for this sort of thing.

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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:17 am 
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For sure, my High B is pretty stiff.

On the other side of the ledger, the pitch differential between low B and high B (which on many chanters I've tried has been a quartertone or more) is only a few cents.

I still think Concert D uilleann chanters would be well to have a High B key giving a note exactly an octave higher than the B in the low octave. I would put the touch where the high C natural key usually is, and make the high C natural key a "side key" as it is on flute.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Last edited by pancelticpiper on Wed Apr 15, 2020 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:29 am 
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I don't know, it's no longer the 1980s, a lot of makers can and do make chanters, and reeds, that play their second octave high notes in tune.

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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 7:52 am 
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Sure you're where there's so much more access and more players and you can hear and try far more than I can here.

Though when I've tried chanters at our local piper's club, from various recent makers, I find my High B less sharp than any of those newer chanters. I suppose there are alternate fingerings used to tame High B, I know on my chanter if I just have the one hole open

x|xox|xxxx

high B is exactly in tune, while having any other fingers open it's a hair sharp.

I can't remember trying another chanter where the B's as close as mine, but as I said I only have access to a limited number of things here.

I know on albums of famous Irish players their high Bs are usually sharp, of course nowadays there's auto-tune in studios to make everything just so. Also in studio recordings uilleann chanters are usually heavily compressed which smooths out everything.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:35 pm 
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Lifting the chanter bell is also a nice setup, but yeah, that's how I sneak into the higher registers.

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 Post subject: Re: staccato high Bs
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 2:17 pm 
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From a closed chanter it is possible, on a flat set, to produce staccato top B's by opening only the lower two fingers of the upper hand... ideally the lowest finger begins to vent first. A good 'crisp' reed that is not hard to blow helps the process.


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