Why the key of D?

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PB+J
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by PB+J »

Mr.Gumby wrote:
The act of writing them down, though, creates a "definitive" version so two people who have never met before can get together and play the same tune together.
While I can see your point, I would have to question that in the sense that even a tune learned from notation will be varied in the hands of a traditional musician. A written version would be a starting point at best. Experienced musicians 'feel eachother up' in a sense and will bring their versions closer together as they go along. Often you'd have a a frame of reference, knowing a musician's style or influence helps to anticipate the route they are going to take through a tune and from there on it's a matter of fine tuning to bring things closer together.

I get that, but there's little in O'Neill to suggest that's what went on in Chicago most of the time. He does mention Sgt Early and John McFadden playing together, and Adam Tobin piping together with Early at a Fair, and he maybe means they played at the same time, but it's hard to tell. He makes little mention of accompaniment, although he does prepare versions for piano. His talk is all about individual players and their swing and execution.
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by NicoMoreno »

Mr.Gumby wrote: UCC did a project some years ago, digitising and documenting the Henebry cylinder collection, which is much more extensive than I expected (114 in all, including 30 sent to him by O'Neill). It was online for a while but disappeared again, unfortunately, before I could download the lot (frankly I expected it to stay up so there was no immediate need to snatch the recordings in full, or the ones I didn't already have).
It's here http://epu.ucc.ie/henebry/music/

Also there's a soundcloud account that still has the tracks up, I believe.
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Great, thank you. I don't know why it never showed up in any search I did over time but it's great to have it.
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PB+J
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by PB+J »

I've been thinking about this while writing about the Taylor brothers. O'Neill described their innovations this way:

“A short experience of the changed conditions prevailing in the United States convinced them that the mild tones of the ordinary Irish pipes were too puny to meet the requirements of the American stage or dance hall, being a note or more below concert pitch. Genius that he was, “Billy” Taylor experimented, remodeled and developed a compact, substantial instrument of powerful tone, which blends agreeably with violin and piano. So successful was it in meeting the popular demand that the Taylor type of Irish bagpipe has superseded the old mellow-toned parlor instrument almost altogether.”

O’Neill saw the Taylor’s pipes as an adaptation t the modern world. “The soft, plaintive tones of the pipes manufactured by Kenna, Coyne, and Egan, so delightful in the parlor, proved too weak to produce the desired effect in concert halls and theatres of modern times.”

Now of course the taylors were far from the first to make pipes pitched to D, but O'Neill here claims that the move to D suited commercial performance on stage. I wonder if that has anything to do with the dominance of D as the key?
Last edited by PB+J on Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by benhall.1 »

PB+J wrote:Now of course the taylors were far for the first to make pipes pitched to D, but O'Neill here claims that the move to D suited commercial performance on stage. I wonder if that has anything to do with the dominance of D as the key?
I think, though, because of associations of the music with flutes and whistles, that 'flat' pipes were still thought of as being in D, even though in fact the actual pitch sounded may have been lower than the D we would recognise today. I could be wrong ...
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by kenny »

Not sure how many of you might "get" this, but.................. 2m39s :)
https://youtu.be/HAVYZLUxaEw
"There's fast music and there's lively music. People don't always know the difference"
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by pancelticpiper »

I think the coalescing of various ITM instruments around D is a fairly recent thing, no?

Wasn't Taylor the maker to develop and concentrate on Concert Pitch pipes? Because here in The States the uilleann pipes might be played along with piano and accordions and such in the music halls.

I had got the impression that, though there was no standard pitch for uilleann pipes in the old days, and they could be made up in D, that generally they were around B. I don't think the makers had in mind matching their pitch to other types of instruments.

Of course fiddles could be tuned in many pitches.

I think the thing tending to D would have been flutes. Of course the pitch of the 18th century flute varied quite a bit, they could be around A=415 up to A=430 or beyond.

Many people don't realise that the 18th century one-key flute continued to be made, and sold, in vast quantities throughout the 19th century. They're the flute still being offered in the 1890 Sears catalogue.

A professional orchestral 19th century flutist would be playing an expensive 8-key Pratten but a 19th century farmer would be playing a one-dollar one-key wood flute. In Britain these most likely would be made to A=452, in the USA we used the British pitch and also the French pitch A=435.

So if flutes and fiddles were playing together and the fiddles tuned to the flutes we would be in the neighborhood of our "D" throughout the 19th century and back into the 18th.
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benhall.1
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by benhall.1 »

I've only just gone back and watched that video that Kenny linked to back in February. Oo-er! :o

Funny, though ... even though I'm a Catholic ... (not even a Catholic Jew) ...

:lol:
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Re: Why the key of D?

Post by pancelticpiper »

benhall.1 wrote:I've only just gone back and watched that video that Kenny linked to back in February. Oo-er! :o

Funny, though ... even though I'm a Catholic ... (not even a Catholic Jew) ...

:lol:
That's hilarious... don't know if you're a fan of Derry Girls, Ser Barristan Selmy and all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7meZZeYllo
Richard Cook
c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle
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