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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:42 am 
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You often read of pipemakers measuring chanters and how important these measurements are ,but apart from their use if they are making an exact copy of a particular chanter ,what can be learned from these measurements ?
Is it possible to mix and match measurements as to get the best from two different chanters and put them into one chanter ?

RORY

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 4:56 am 
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A bit about what they (the makers) were thinking, for a start.

Cheers,

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:41 am 
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rorybbellows wrote:
You often read of pipemakers measuring chanters and how important these measurements are ,but apart from their use if they are making an exact copy of a particular chanter ,what can be learned from these measurements ?
Is it possible to mix and match measurements as to get the best from two different chanters and put them into one chanter ?

RORY


I think we need to start with the premise that there is something that can be learned from measuring chanters and other pipes. Exactly what that "something" is may change over time, as we become more aware of what physical factors have what effects on the tone and behavior of the pipes. I'm talking about a learning curve. If you don't know what you're looking for, you may not see it.

Most, but perhaps not all, pipemakers are trying (or have tried) to make pipes which sound a particular way, and behave within a set of norms, and there's a range of expectations. When I started out in 1975 or so, I made certain assumptions about the nature of the bores of chanters based on organological descriptions. I came to understand later that things were not as simple as the term "conical bore" was suggesting. In the beginning, I reckoned that if Anthony Baines said "conical," he meant "conical," and that was that. I think this tendency to oversimplify is what leads beginning pipemakers to want perfectly regular conical reamers, and to be willing to settle for the bores that can be produced with them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, unless a pipemaker is aware of what has been done before, he will fall victim to the hubris that lets him think that he can reinvent the wheel. I am convinced, at this stage my life, that the chanters that I really admire do not have simple, perfectly regular conical bores. The argument in favor of measuring doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. I've measured many, many chanters, and while a couple that had perfectly regular conical bores were within the margins of acceptability, they just don't compare with more complicated examples. This is not to say that there are not examples of instruments out there which have complicated bores and still sound terrible. I've come across that, too.

Simply put, the alternative to measuring bores is not measuring bores. I cannot claim to have been successful at mixing and matching, as Rory mentions, but I suppose the desire to be able to understand and incorporate tonal and behavioral characteristics of various instruments into something new and wonderful is what keeps me going. Frankly, I don't yet understand the physics involved, but I am trying to work toward that understanding. I don't think I am yet able to synthesize the information obtained from measuring bores into new bore designs, but on the other side of that coin is the fact that such bore changes as BK and I do monkey around with are at least choices informed by the measuring and graphical plotting we have done. I believe the information we are gathering by measuring bores will eventually prove useful and worthwhile. When I first stepped into the darkened room, I couldn't see anything at all. When my eyes started to become accustomed to the low level of light, one of the first things I saw was a micrometer.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:24 am 
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A very eloquent and honest answer,thank you

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:28 am 
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very eloquent
as always.

But wait! didn't DJM inform us that

"The so-called experts are the last to say anything, or offer support, unless its to sneer and cast aspersions."


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 8:33 am 
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There are some experts who throw reputation to the wind and go against the grain as it were... I am pleased Mr. Quinn is one of these rebels.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:09 am 
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But measuring alone is not the whole anwer. Pipemakers almost always are trying out reed(s) with those chanters (if possible) and mapping out chanter characteristics against known observations and measurements. By now, people like DQ, BK, AF have extensive notebooks filled with their measurements and observations.

Aesthetics and playability ideas come into play, too. There is a lot of elegance and detail work in the 19th century sets. Also, it seems that every combination possible has been tried 100+ years ago with the Irish pipes - special regulator notes, combinations, layouts, chanter styles, key placement.

But what is the best approach for someone getting into the game today? There are enough good sets going to simply measure those sets, being careful around the many sets and chanters have been modified over the years. Measuring chanters coming off the bench today from the people that have done all the research for the past 15-25 years would zero one pretty quickly on where one should be ending up with one's own work.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:25 am 
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Jim McGuire wrote:
... Measuring chanters coming off the bench today from the people that have done all the research for the past 15-25 years would zero one pretty quickly on where one should be ending up with one's own work.


Yes, though I'd be very reluctant to 'copy' a design from a living maker without that maker's express permission. Even in that case it may be better to work from a common starting point rather than attempt to make an exact copy of a recent chanter.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:40 pm 
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rorybbellows wrote:
Is it possible to mix and match measurements as to get the best from two different chanters and put them into one chanter ?

RORY


I have a mix and match chanter built by Peter Hunter about 12 years ago.

It is a C chanter but with a "B chanter style bore and tonehole lattice". The idea (which was Peter's, I was just after a C chanter) was to try to get used to how a B chanter handled and the different fingerings involved. Peter must have assumed that B was the ultimate objective of any piper.

Peter seemed keen to build it so I let him get on with it.

Whether it was a success or not is another question. It's never been properly reeded. Peter also tapered the toneholes with a reamer as he said that's how Bs were done.

I'll maybe try a reed in it see what happens, it's been a few years since I've picked it up.

It may also be useful to measure it as I am assuming it has some sort of standard B bore profile (in principle at least).

It may always be nothing more than an oddity.

I have only ever measured my own chanters and have no experience of what fine historic bores and toneholes are like. But yes, it seems measuring is the only way to learn. I would guess that how the bore relates to staple and reed is also very important.

I would imagine Chanter tones can be very subjective things, affected by the player, the surroundings (including the atmosphere) etc. and also what the listener is expecting to hear.

We probably have to trust the good pipe makers to make good decisions about their bores and toneholes. Having said that there are well respected makers who's work I just don't like the sound of. But if we all liked the same thing their job would be too easy :D :D

David


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:54 pm 
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David Lim wrote:
It's never been properly reeded.

Sounds like you need to get in touch with Alan Burton. He is a member of this forum. He reeded a B Hunter chanter I know of and it's a fine machine.

Good luck,

Patrick.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 4:43 pm 
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Thanks Patrick. I've just spent my way out of a reed crisis. Better start saving again. :)

David Lim wrote:
But yes, it seems measuring is the only way to learn.


Did I really say that :)

Should have been more like:

Measuring is probably a good starting point.

David


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:05 pm 
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David Lim wrote:
...
It may also be useful to measure it as I am assuming it has some sort of standard B bore profile (in principle at least).
David


I'm very doubtful that there is any such thing. Certainly nothing in the measurements I know of suggest it.

Bill


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 3:15 am 
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Although I have not seen Peter for probably 10 years or more I clearly recall he believed that B (and Bb) chanters were significantly different from D,C# and C in design. And that one of the consequences of this difference lead to the need for a more open style of fingering when playing.

Maybe he was talking about the specific style of pipes he chose to make rather than B generally. I have no idea.

I am speaking from a position of ignorance and willingness to learn.

David


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 4:50 am 
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I am suggesting first of all that there's no such thing as a 'standard B profile', i.e. some relatively consistent characteristics of most B and B-flat chanters that can be distinguished from C and/or Csharp. The range of variation is too large.

I say this on the basis of playing a few examples of historic B, C, and Csharp chanters, and examining their bore profiles and the profiles of other historic flat chanters.

It's certainly possible that Peter sussed out something there that the rest of us have not seen, but this is the first suggestion I have seen from any maker or player that historic B/Bflat chanters have some systematic qualitative difference from C/Cnat other than the obvious, i.e. the differences that arise along a continuum of pitch and length. Maybe Peter was talking about such a continuum as well, instead of some visible distinction between longer and shorter narrow bore chanters.

I am in fact much more struck by the similarities between different pitches from the same 19th century maker, in those cases that I've been fortunate enough to investigate.

Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 3:11 am 
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billh wrote:
I am in fact much more struck by the similarities between different pitches from the same 19th century maker, in those cases that I've been fortunate enough to investigate.

Bill


Would that suggest that the same set of reamers were used to make all the pitchs?

David


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