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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 9:39 am 
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I posted this on the uilleann list-serve but thought it might not hurt to post here too...HELP!!! :smile:

*********************************Hi Gang,

So just in time for St. Pat's this year, Mr. David Daye had my first practice set of uilleann pipes in my hands! What a great instrument, although a completely different animal compared to the whistles and flutes that I know.

I just had a few quick questions on tuning/tone, that I hope are easy, and perhaps even silly due to my lack of knowledge with the pipes. I also live in a very dry climate if that makes any difference...(Salt Lake City - high desert)



First off, when I received the set, I could get first octave pretty well, although I was surprised at how much bag pressure was needed to achieve it. Second octave -with the exception of back D- was almost impossible. When I was able to get up to back D, it was markedly flat.

Now David recommends using a combination if rushes and a small strip of plastic in the bottom of the chanter to improve intonation (especially of the bottom D which seemed fine to my ear) as well as mellow out the set as a whole. When I use these in the chanter however, especially the small upside-down 'U' of plastic in the end, bottom D tends to gurgle, and break up, and isn't very stable. I also don't notice an appreciable difference in the tuning of the rest of the chanter, though admittedly, this could just be my lack of experience.

Upon re-reading his reed instructions once again, he mentioned *VERY CAREFULLY* adjusting the bridle. He marks his reeds with two pencil marks to show the high and low points for bridle adjustment that should work well with that particular reed. A handy reference if I may say so. And I found that lowering the bridle makes second octave easier, and the first less stable, and raising it has the opposite effect. Old news to most of you I'm sure! :smile:

So I guess my question is this. Is there some magic spot on the reed that will bring both octaves into tune (more or less anyway), and also allow a reasonable pressure on the bag to achieve both octaves? Should I try opening or closing the staple any? Rushing the staple perhaps??? Above all, I know I must use *CAUTION* when doing ANY reed adjustment!!

I hope these are all very basic reeding questions, and thank you for your patience and knowledge!

Brian~


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 9:53 am 
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P.S.

On the topic of 'Hard D'...

When I play the bell note (bottom D) it is a very solid tone, and actually louder than any of the first octave notes played on the leg. Am I somehow getting a hard D each time I play this note unwittingly?

I've tried the 'gracenote A then drop to D' method for producing a hard D and the tone is the same as a regular off the leg D. Just another question from the peanut gallery! :smile:

B~


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 10:45 am 
sounds like a not too great reed but maybe he left it hard to cope with the climate: in a dry climate a reed will die fairly quickly.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 11:26 am 
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Hi Peter,

Actually, as I understand it, David makes his reeds for the climate into which they'll be played. I can get a very nice tone, but I can't do it over the whole range of notes yet.

Honestly, I'll admit defeat, and guess that this is partially due to the fact that I have been playing uilleann pipes for exactly...(hang on, gotta go look at the clock)...three hours! :smile: :smile: :smile:

I know a lot of this will come to me with practice and patience. I honestly don't think it's the reed itself, as far as being 'bad'. I think David also ships his reeds slightly open, so they don't collapse during shipment. Perhaps there's some 'memory' left in the reed of this condition?? I've moved the bridle down slightly, and it seemed to help a bit.

Also, isn't it true that after you pick up a set of pipes, it takes about 10-15 minutes of playing for the reed to settle in tuning-wise? Sometimes even older reeds may need this time I thought.

Anyway, thanks!

Bri~


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 11:59 am 
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Hang in there. Don't yet admit defeat. It takes months, if not years, of playing to build up the strength and coordination to play these things. A new reed will take about 20 hrs of playing to settle in. Especially in your climate, where the reed will collapse down some due to the dry air, you'll want to leave it open a little requiring more pressure than you'd like as it will settle in. I'm reminded by your post of a video concert of Boys of the Lough playing in SLC...Christy O'Leary, their piper, had a humidifier going right by his bellows arm. You may ultimately need one but it doesn't sound that way as of yet. Does Mr. Daye have any experience making reeds for SLC? Or, did he give you a reed made with the thought that it might work there? If it does not settle in within a few days, I'd suggest getting in touch with him to try our a few more reeds. Most importantly, find someone there who knows about pipes. They may likely take your set and make it sing...an event that would point to the fact that you're new at this UP playing and it is tough to learn. Also, avoid too many reed adjustments...you'll get quite frustrated and in the end likely ruin your reed. I know, I ruined the first 4 reeds I had in my first chanter...it was a painful but important lesson, though. With regards to reed adjustments, a simple bridle adjustment will result i nchanges in the reed that will not be complete for a day or so....do not make more thatn one adjustment in a day for now until you learn what you're doing. My brightest idea for you is to get yourself on a jet aeroplane and fly to the tionol to be held in St. Louis in about 4 weeks. Benedict Koehler is doing reeds and will likely take a look at what you have and help you out. Further, you'll meet others wh ocan help and give you advice. In all, I'd say that the value of attending tionols is about 4-fold greater that the cost of attending them....so, part withthe cash and plan for a worthwhile trip. Oh, and one more thing, stay out of the second octave. Too many new players expect to have at their disposal a full two octaves right away. Learn simple tunes that are in the first octave and maybe up to the second octave e. Also, a lot of tunes are in the first octave for first part and then jump to the second for the second part...just focus on th first parts until you're ready. Even better, just play the scale...bottom d to back d...don't worry about playing tunes....it will come. Patsy Touhy once said that a new player should do nothing at all but play the scales for the first SIX months. At this stage, the first half of every practice session you have should be to just work the scales...and to hold a steady a note for as long as you can....keep working on this until you can play an "a" thru at least 5 bellows strokes without many wavering of pitch/pressure...then, you'll be ready for tunes and a second octave. This approach will permit you to tune the reed in the first octave to a comfoprtable playing pressure until you're ready to go beyond. Also, limit the playing to 20 min per day for the first month until you get the muscles built up and ready. Sorry for the rambling...but, there it is.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 12:27 pm 
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David Daye has indicated he has a special room that's temperature/humidity controlled. If reeds are needed for an unusually dry climate, he can lower the relative humidity, stabilize the cane for a while and fabricate the reed(s) in the room matching the climate intended. I would expect he's already done this with Brian's reed.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 3:30 pm 
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I seriously doubt that Mr. Daye can do that. I do not think that he, living on an island surrounded by water, where it often mists, at nearly sea level, could even begin to drop the humidity low enough to match the indoor climate, with heat on, outside temp of 28 degrees, at 5000 ft. I'd bet the humidity is 15 % in SLC at the present. He'd need a dehumidifier as big as a room to do that...and, if he could do it, how could he do the barometric pressure? Many pipers who live in the mountainous regions of the US tell us hat the baro pressure/density altitude does indeed have an effect on reed performance.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 3:47 pm 
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Quote:
Glandman wrote:
I seriously doubt that Mr. Daye can do that...


We all know David strives for perfection. Granted, he's not in a hermetically sealed chamber where he can also simulate altitude changes as well.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 4:47 pm 
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Actually..Yes, he does. I've been to his place here on the island. He had something like 4 De-humidifiers going. (Not for any special reason,he was experimenting) He may not nail your climate dead on...But he'll get pretty close to it. Plus the room we're talking about here is very very small.
He IS a perfectionist though, If it is the reed, Call him up,He'll probably know whats happening.
Dan

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2002 11:17 pm 
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Keep in mind he wouldn't have to dehumidify a room, also. Just whatever space in which he decides he needs to keep his reeds.

Dionys

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2002 12:11 am 
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Quote:
On 2002-03-18 00:17, Dionys wrote:
Keep in mind he wouldn't have to dehumidify a room, also. Just whatever space in which he decides he needs to keep his reeds.

Dionys




Heh,,Yeah, That would be his REALLY wierd looking cart thing, I THINK it was once a
Wheeled shelf unit. LOL

Dan

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2002 11:53 am 
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Lots of sound advice from Glandman, but I tend to be a bit of a Maria Montessori regarding motivation. Rather than play scales (which must be one of the things that most make people hate learning the piano), I suggest a judicious choice of tunes which include lots of fragments of scales: for example, "Down by the Sally Gardens" (that's the song, not the reel) or Fainne Geal an Lae (aka the Dawning of the Day).

That way, the learner feels that he/she is getting into the action faster and is more encouraged to keep going.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2002 12:25 pm 
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Guys, for the record... Brian is a very talented whistle player. He should be adapting to pipes rather quickly as he already has the learning discipline, reads music and knows many of the tunes. I'm so sure of his success, if he looses interest in piping before his Gallagher full set arrives, I'll offer to buy it from him :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2002 6:50 pm 
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Hey Thank You Tony!!

Very kind words, though I don't feel I live up to them! :smile: Alas, I'm no Paddy Moloney...YET! Tell you what I have figured out so far though. (perhaps some other new pipers might care to join in with their troubles/triumphs too??)

I've been playing the pipes since exactly 10:00 pm last Friday night, (two days ago) so please bear that in mind when judging both what I can do as well as what I should be hearing from my reed etc.

I can muck through a pretty fair rendition of Down by the Salley Gardens, as well as The Parting Glass, and The Foggy Dew. Also an Enya tune, and the D. Spillane pipe solo from Riverdance. All of these are slower tunes, and so easier for me as I learn the new feel.

I can *almost* play The Lilting Banshee at speed, hitting about two-thirds of the notes. I've been working on single notes and some scale work too, but also on bag/bellows coordination. I've learned a lot over the last few days (I've hardly unstrapped the silly thing from my side the whole weekend!) but of course, have a LOOONG way to go.

I am supprised at how much someone can do with these pipes though, as most of what I've heard makes them sound so impossible to get a decent tone from, let alone a good tune or two, that it would be ridiculous to even attempt them!

I'm living breathing proof that if you try, and you are patient with the pipes...and most importantly with yourself, that you CAN play them!

I still am having a tough time figuring how to get clean octave breaks, though I think I'm finding the spot the reed likes to play in the best for my climate. I'm having trouble finding the happy medium between a bottom octave that's too easy, and gurgles (esp. bottom D) and a second octave that just WON'T play at all.

Is it normal to have to work your way up the scale to hit notes in the second octave? I've tried going from low G to 2nd G and the reed just won't break. If I'm already high, it drops back just fine, but I can't seem to push it up to the upper notes without a scale in there or something. Is there a trick I'm missing here?

Also, I tend to keep the bag fairly full, which as I understand it, is characteristic of most new players. I feel like I'll run out of air too fast, and have to pump like mad to catch up. Guess this is just new-player-syndrome again though.

Anyway, I think I MIGHT post a short clip on Clips and Snips tonight, just to say I did! :smile:

Thanks you guys for all your help!

Bri~


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2002 8:21 pm 
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Brian,

I'm having nearly the opposite problem... I hardly have to try to push any air through the chanter before the F and G immediately pop into the upper octave, I have to carefully try and cut down the pressure and let the F and G happen softly, then the A and B require significantly more pressure. If I apply too little pressure to the F and G I get no sound - but a nice windblown finger. I don't think that's what Greg Lake meant by "I am windblown, I am times".

Paul

I'm really having fun with the upper E and back D combination;-)


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