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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 7:20 am 
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While browsng some recent topics, I saw several assertions that tonehole spacing was an important consideration in "flat versus D" chanters, and that flat chanters as a rule had larger tonehole spreads.

But this isn't always true - and it doesn't match my experience. Anyone who is concerned about tonehole spacing when ordering a chanter should ask the maker for right-hand tonehole spacing, and in particular the spread between the second and third right-hand toneholes (i.e between "F# " and the "top E" hole). The E-F spread seems to be the usual limiting factor, as it's usually the widest spread on the 'bottom hand' and also happens to be a more awkward spread for the hand than the spread between first-and-second or third-and-fourth fingers.

To make my point, I give some measuments for historic chanter toneholes - the total "bottom hand spread" , and the spread between F# and E1. I have chosen one chanter from each maker for each pitch - other chanters from the same maker may have larger or smaller gaps, but I did not pick-and-choose, I picked the first example of each maker and pitch which I had to hand. I am not at liberty to publish all the tonehole data but I think the data below doesn't disclose any secrets, as the measurements are relative:
<pre>
maker/pitch RH spread F#-E1

W Rousome/D (sharp) 96.4 33.2
L Rowsome/D (slightly sharp) 93 33.0
Crowley/D (sharp) 95.2 32.6
Coyne/B 98 33.5
Coyne/C 95.6 31.2
Coyne/C# 97 35
</pre>

For comparison, the approximate spacing for a DDaye 'Penny Chanter':
<pre>
Daye/D (A440) 92.5 31
</pre>
One interesting thing about this is the fact that there is only a very small difference between the Coyne C#, C, and B - in fact the Coyne C that I measured has a smaller span than the Coyne C#. The Coynes (or at least one Coyne) were clever enough to achieve the necessary tuning adjustments in the bore. So if a modern maker is making faithful copies of historic chanters, it's not necessary for the spread to increase markedly as the pitch drops. In fact, a modern maker who stretched a classic Rowsome design to bring it down to A-440 might easily end up with a bottom hand stretch larger than even the Coyne B!

By the same logic, it may be possible to produce a chanter with even closer tonehole spacing, if someone requires it. I have a NBD that I made for a student with very small hands with RH spread of 88 mm and F#-E1 of 29.5 mm. So far, so good...

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:30 am 
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When you are measuring tone hole spacing, are you measuring from the centre of the tone hole? If not, you would have to account for different sizes of the tone holes themselves from one chanter to the next.

There are several ways to modify the tone hole spacing, including angling the chimney of the tone hole. My understanding is that many of these changes can have significant effects on the tone of the individual notes, not just the tuning. The way one maker does something compared to another may have more to do with what the individual maker was trying to achive for that note.

Also, I am a bit concerned about slavishly copying old sets just because they are old. The older the set, the more likely the wood has moved from its original shape through aging. It is a myth that old-time makers had some mystical understanding that no one today can reproduce, or that they were capable of achieving timbres that are unattainable by modern makers. That being said, there are certainly some fine sounding older sets still around.

djm

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:39 am 
djm wrote:
It is a myth that old-time makers had some mystical understanding that no one today can reproduce, or that they were capable of achieving timbres that are unattainable by modern makers.
djm


Point me to a modern maker able to produce a set able to anything an undamaged well reeded Coyne can do and I'll go out ordering a set today!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:53 am 
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djm wrote:
When you are measuring tone hole spacing, are you measuring from the centre of the tone hole?

Of course!
Quote:
There are several ways to modify the tone hole spacing, including angling the chimney of the tone hole.

Not what I am referring to here. The toneholes in question are not appreciably angled. On the narrow bore chanters they are also very similar to one another in size. As for the notion that 'age' has caused them to migrate around the bore.... ;-)
Quote:
My understanding is that many of these changes can have significant effects on the tone of the individual notes, not just the tuning.


Well, I for one rather like the tone of the old Coynes ;-)

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:02 am 
billh wrote:
Well, I for one rather like the tone of the old Coynes ;-)

Bill


I heard Seamus Rochain briefly last week and it struck me that even while the chanter has had a toncillectomy there's something in the overall sound of these sets hat you won't be likely to find in today's instruments (some come close though, in fairness)

I think it's not a matter of taking an old chanter and play it in standard finerings liek you've been taught and keep the chanter glued to your knee that will bring out the difference, it's opening your ear and mind to the possibilities hidden in in the chanter that will blow your mind and show you the difference in the approaches between older makers and the modern ones.
IN relation to the Coynes Sean Donnelly long a go made the point to me that they were also making flutes and oboes in Dublin, at the time as he said the second city in the empire, the second most important city in the world. As he put it 'these men were no fools'.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:18 am 
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This is the first chanter I ever owned, bought second hand and maker unknown. I only "played" it for a year.

Image

The F#-E spacing is exactly 40mm. (Centre to centre).

A more learned person than me said the maker may have been trying to solve tuning issues with the Es.

Sealing to lower hand holes was alway a problem.

Now I know why. :D
(Well, I knew before but this puts it into some sort of perspective)

David


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:23 am 
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Peter Laban wrote:
billh wrote:
...
I think it's not a matter of taking an old chanter and play it in standard finerings liek you've been taught and keep the chanter glued to your knee that will bring out the difference, it's opening your ear and mind to the possibilities hidden in in the chanter that will blow your mind and show you the difference in the approaches between older makers and the modern ones.

Yes, I also think it's the off-the-knee/alternate fingerings that really underscore the point. It reminds me of something Mick O'Brien said to me recently (about a concert pitch chanter); "it's great, but the off-the-knee G in the second octave isn't in tune". I have to confess I hadn't given the tuning of that note much thought before - it really set me to thinking. Mick uses open and alternate fingerings a lot, and to very good effect, even on CP chanters. I think sometimes on modern NB chanters the toneholes get over-enlarged in situations where a better reed/chanter match (or some bore adjustments) might 'open up' the sound just as effectively. In any case there seems to be a trend for larger toneholes on modern narrow-bore 'copies' than on the originals, which is a shame since the small toneholes seem IMO to invite/enable more tuneful alternate/open fingerings.
Quote:
In relation to the Coynes Sean Donnelly long a go made the point to me that they were also making flutes and oboes in Dublin, at the time as he said the second city in the empire, the second most important city in the world. As he put it 'these men were no fools'.

Flutes, I knew, but I didn't know about oboes - that's very interesting (given the relatively sophisticated state of bore tuning for baroque oboes of the time). Are you aware of any extant examples of Coyne oboes?

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:24 am 
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Interesting topic.

Some years back I played a couple of Rogge (contemporary maker) flat chanters. The C# I played had even less of a stretch than his D chanters at that time. His B chanter was also much less of a stretch than all the other B chanter's I had handled.

T


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:24 am 
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David Lim wrote:
This is the first chanter I ever owned, bought second hand and maker unknown. I only "played" it for a year.
...

Sealing to lower hand holes was alway a problem.

David


Ouch! Looks even bigger than 40 in the photo, probably parallax.

Live long and prosper ;-)

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:27 am 
billh wrote:
Are you aware of any extant examples of Coyne oboes?

Bill


Sean did mention at least one example, I think this was mentioned in one of his earlier articles as well. I can't recall where it is, possibly the national museum but as I said I am not sure (and I surely hope my memory didn't let me down and made me confuse Coyne with Kenna).
The point is ofcourse these men were highly skilled makers who knew what they were doing and had complex ways to alter the bores of their instruments in order to achieve what they were looking for.


Last edited by Cayden on Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:48 am 
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So, have I got the correct principle here?

You can use the bore to vary the pitch of a chanter, even at a fixed length.

And the length then detemines the tone hole spacing?

David


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:59 am 
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David Lim wrote:
So, have I got the correct principle here?

You can use the bore to vary the pitch of a chanter, even at a fixed length.

And the length then detemines the tone hole spacing?

David


Not quite (though the bore can affect overall pitch). Chanters do tend to get longer as the pitch drops and vice-versa.

The principle is more that the bore can be modified to alter the ideal placement of the toneholes. So the relative tonehole placement can be held more-or-less constant even though the chanter itself gets longer.

Let's say for example that you wanted to keep the relative finger spacing on your hands about the same for chanters of several pitches - maybe because of comfort, or maybe just to make switching back-and-forth easier. Thus the relative spacing between the holes on the right hand needs to stay about the same, and the spacing on the left hand should be about the same, but you can change the spacing _between the hands_, for instance between the 'A' tonehole and 'G' tonehole, for different pitches. Small difference in the bores (and tonehole size) can substitute for stretching the tonehole spacings within each hand.

Most (all?) modern makers tune their chanters by modifying the toneholes - either moving them around, undercutting them, drilling them at angles, or making them bigger/smaller. The evidence from old chanters (and other instruments, like oboes and recorders - and acoustic theory) shows that tuning can also be accomplished/affected by small, localized modifications to the chanter bore. The details of exactly how this was done by past pipemakers are lost, unfortunately. I am told that some literature (in German and Czech) survives regarding how this was done for recorders and oboes, but AFAIK none has been translated into English.

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:00 am 
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I can certainly vouch for the difference in distance between the E and F# holes. On my B chanter it feels like I am splitting my hand in a V, like making the Vulcan "peace" sign.

B chanter

diameter lengthwise of E hole - 4.5 mm
diameter lengthwise of F# hole - 6 mm
distance on centre E to F# - 35 mm

D chanter

diameter lengthwise of E hole - 5 mm
diameter lengthwiseof F# hole - 9.5 mm
distance on centre E to F# - 24 mm

djm

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:10 am 
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djm wrote:
I can certainly vouch for the difference in distance between the E and F# holes. ...
D chanter
...
distance on centre E to F# - 24 mm

djm

That's an exceptionally small spread for a D chanter - in fact fat fingers might not manage it! Please remind us who made it?

Bill


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:26 am 
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Joe Kennedy. These are a few years old, now. He says his design has changed somewhat since then. I do not have newer measurements.

djm

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