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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:23 pm 
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Just curious.

Found a nice mp3 in clips&snips (click me) and I really like the sound of that chanter, it sounds softer to me than many other chanters do.

So, what makes it sound like that? The reed, the wood, the bore? Or a combination of everything? Is it possible to aim to make a chanter with a specific sound, or is it a kind of "gambling"?

Does the wood in general has a strong influence on the sound? My plumwood concertD chanter sounds quite bright and strong though plumwood is said to produce a mellower sound than e.g. blackwood/ebony, and in contrary I recently played a blackwooden Rogge chanter (concertD, too) which had a lovely sweet and mellow tone...

As said, just curious. :)
Thanks & greetings,
Gabriel


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 2:03 am 
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Hi Gabriel, have a chat with Ben 'cause here's a clip from earlier with the same chanter:
http://tinwhistletunes.com/clipssnip/Au ... omBenW.mp3
It maybe a differemce in the recording or reed, I think his O'briain chanter may have been re-reeded when he bought the Froment set, I may be wrong but Ben's the best person to talk to, to clarify this.
:party:
Mark

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:49 am 
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a lot o twaddle is made about the effect the wood has on the sound.Given the sound comes through the vibrating column o air in the conical bore via the reed exiting through the tone holes there is your answer.it has everything to do with the above factors and little if anything to do with the wood.Afore any of ye start ...there are plenty of examples of metal,plastic and wooden instruments giving the same tone/sound when compared with each other.Certain woods may look nice,others may not be suitable at all because of the porous nature but thats about it.Now then lets hear all the sentimentalist arguments against.... :wink:
uilliam

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 4:22 am 
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Uilliam wrote:
Now then lets hear all the sentimentalist arguments against.... :wink:
uilliam


Uilliam, you are so wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. And what's more, I'm wrong. But I am less right than you are wrong. So wrong that it hurts just to think of it.Might I add that you're not even correct? That's right, because you're wrong....

:D :P :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 4:45 am 
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Uilliam wrote:
Now then lets hear all the sentimentalist arguments against.... :wink:
uilliam


If you can feel the chanter vibrate in your hands then some of that energy from the vibrating column of air is passing into the wood (or other material).

The nature of that material (including its surface) will control exactly which amounts of which frequencies are removed from the column of air. It may even put some altered energy back into the air column. And thus the material will have an effect on sound quality.

David


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:53 am 
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[quote="David Lim
If you can feel the chanter vibrate in your hands then some of that energy from the vibrating column of air is passing into the wood (or other material).
David[/quote]

or it could be the fact that the air is vibrating and thus causing the chanter to vibrate.Nope not convinced :wink:

Joseph which bit is wrang..nope not convinced :wink:
Anyone else care to give a scientific appraisal o the situation...BTW we had this topic some time back so we are retreading old ground and I don't think it came to much then....
Happy Christmas ye all
Uilliam :party:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:39 am 
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What happened to all the conversations about THE REED having a big influence on the overall sound of a chanter?

Shouldn't all things be considered?

Design (bore and tonehole placement), wood, reeding and... the person actually playing the pipes can have an affect on the way it sounds too.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:09 am 
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Uilliam wrote:

Joseph which bit is wrang..nope not convinced :wink:


The part about me being less right.... but then, what else is new? :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:36 am 
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David Lim wrote:

If you can feel the chanter vibrate in your hands then some of that energy from the vibrating column of air is passing into the wood (or other material).

The nature of that material (including its surface) will control exactly which amounts of which frequencies are removed from the column of air. It may even put some altered energy back into the air column. And thus the material will have an effect on sound quality.

David



To add to David's comments -

To get back to basics, With any musical instrument what you perceive as the note is the fundamental frequency. Higher harmonics are also present whose mix determines the tone quality. Instruments thet make noise by generating a mechanical vibration produce a sine wave, so what you hear is a mix of different overtones. Everything that generates or surpresses the harmonics will affect the tone, e.g reed, bore dimensions and smoothness, holes, material. The question is how much and what effect each is having.

One thing to remember also is that you don't just hear the noise coming out of the end of the chanter - it is radiated through the holes and by the body, therefore it's tough to imagine that the material has no influence.

I've close and contact miced a number of wind instruments and found that very different tone qualities are produced at various points on the instrument.

All my chanters are ebony so I don't have any experience of different woods with UPs but I have played fox bassoons of similar design made of different types of maples - there is a difference, but it may not be the largest contributer to the sound.

I think all those folks who've bought solid silver flutes might be a bit disappointed if materiial makes no difference.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:40 am 
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David Lim wrote:
Uilliam wrote:
Now then lets hear all the sentimentalist arguments against.... :wink:
uilliam


If you can feel the chanter vibrate in your hands then some of that energy from the vibrating column of air is passing into the wood (or other material).


This is certainly true. The resulting vibration of the timber doesn't have a direct effect on the sound, because the amplitude is dwarfed by the amplitude of the air vibrations, but as any good acoustics text will tell you, there are definitely damping effects associated with the wall material.

As for whether the differences in these damping effects are significant enough to account for discernible tonal differences, there is little agreement. To a "first or second-order" theoretical analysis it would seem that they are not, but the fact of the matter is that no one has really solved the relevant equations more rigorously. So those who point to a theoretical argument "against" wall material and/or microscopic roughness effects must concede that the effects usually categorized as "minor" or "tertiary" have never been quantified.

As I understand it, the complete equations are highly nonlinear, and so they are very difficult to solve, even numerically. Two of the things that are believed by theoreticians to make some of the usually-ignored effects more important are narrowness of bore and presence of a double reed. In other words, union pipes and oboes are among the most difficult woodwind instruments to model theoretically, whereas clarinets and flutes are much simpler.

(To my knowledge, all of the "empirical demonstrations" suggesting that wall material is acoustically unimportant have been carried out with flutes and clarinets.)

I have a strong interest in acoustics and a considerable background in the scientific field (admittedly as a numerical simulations/programmer type), and was pre-disposed to believe, from these theoretical arguments, that material didn't matter much. But my ears, and hands-on experiences, are telling me otherwise.

I did a bit of power-spectrum analysis of two chanters which are nominally "the same" (same reamers, tonehole spacing/size, chimney heights). One was made of violet rosewood (dalbergia louvelli) and one of ebony (diospyros sp.). (I could have used balsa and epoxy I suppose, but in my view the results of experiments like that are less interesting than trying woods that are already believed to be suitable.) The two chanters definitely sounded different with the same reed, and I recorded them under the same conditions on the same day, then did some spectral analysis of selected notes (the D major arpeggio from bottom D to third-octave-d). The initial results seem to bear out a consistent difference in harmonics, though I would concede that they are not by any means conclusive. A few notes show little difference harmonically, but overall the ebony chanter has a weaker fundamental relative to the harmonics (meaning a brighter, more harmonically rich sound), and in particular the ebony chanter often has stronger 4th and 7th harmonics than the rosewood chanter, and may have more harmonics represented overall.

Here's a dramatic example, showing the A4 (first octave A) note for the rosewood chanter:
Image
and the ebony chanter:
Image

Note: The vertical axes in the two plots are NOT to scale.
If you look at the vertical axes you can see that on the rosewood chanter, the fundamental is dominant, whereas in the ebony chanter the fourth harmonic dominates, for a brighter sound. Also, note in the top time-axis graph how the fourth harmonic "develops" over a period of 50 ms or so. The rest of the plots show similar general phenomena, though for some notes the differences are more subtle.

These plots illustrate a lot of other physical phenomena - for instance, cutoff frequency effects associated with tonehole sizes (thus, weaker harmonic content in the second octave), and the overall similarity in harmonic profiles reflects the basic similarity in the two bores. In other words, the chanters sound very "similar" in a familial way, but the rosewood one has a more muffled sound when compared side-by-side with the ebony. I believe that the semi-quantitiative results in the plots show the physical evidence of this subjective impression.

Another interesting point is the apparent importance of the seventh harmonic. In many instruments I believe the seventh harmonic is considered undesirably "dissonant" (as it corresponds to a flat minor seventh), but it is one of the strongest harmonics in the hard D and in some other notes, at least in my experiments. I suggest that perhaps the 'dissonant' seventh harmonic is one of the ingredients in chanter tone that gives it a "crack".

Have a look at this plot of the ebony hard D, for instance:
Image
Note that the fundamental is very weak indeed!

If you want to look at all the plots, go to:
http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictu ... 1014&idx=2

I get the impression that very small bore deviations, on the order of a thousandth of an inch or less, and similarly quite small changes in tonehole size and undercutting, can have an appreciable effect on tone quality. For this reason, and the fact that my measurement and fabrication techniques are not good to the 0.01 mm accuracy, one would want to repeat this experiment with a collection of "supposedly-identical" chanters to have something statistically significant and/or conclusive. That said, I have made chanters from a number of woods, and the ebony ones have consistently seemed distinguishable from the others tonally (as well as in other ways).

David's comment below seems true to me, but in fact the theoretical arguments on both sides are presently mostly hand-waving, until someone can quantify them a bit better.

Bill

Quote:
The nature of that material (including its surface) will control exactly which amounts of which frequencies are removed from the column of air. It may even put some altered energy back into the air column. And thus the material will have an effect on sound quality.

David


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:51 am 
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Gabriel wrote:

So, what makes it sound like that? The reed, the wood, the bore? Or a combination of everything? Is it possible to aim to make a chanter with a specific sound, or is it a kind of "gambling"?


The reed and the piper and his/her style of playing makes it sounds like that.
If you're looking for a specific sound and consider all the factors that contribute to that sound I think you can roughly break it up in: reed 50%, bore 25%, piper/playing style 24%, wood 1%.

The recording process is also a big factor, I think compression is used in this case. And the piper is playing the 'overdrive' setup style like Keenan.

All the best,
Evertjan


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:31 am 
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billh wrote:
David Lim wrote:
Uilliam wrote:
Now then lets hear all the sentimentalist arguments against.... :wink:
uilliam


If you can feel the chanter vibrate in your hands then some of that energy from the vibrating column of air is passing into the wood (or other material).


This is certainly true. The resulting vibration of the timber doesn't have a direct effect on the sound, because the amplitude is dwarfed by the amplitude of the air vibrations, but as any good acoustics text will tell you, there are definitely damping effects associated with the wall material.

As for whether the differences in these damping effects are significant enough to account for discernible tonal differences, there is little agreement. To a "first or second-order" theoretical analysis it would seem that they are not, but the fact of the matter is that no one has really solved the relevant equations more rigorously. So those who point to a theoretical argument "against" wall material and/or microscopic roughness effects must concede that the effects usually categorized as "minor" or "tertiary" have never been quantified.
As I understand it, the complete equations are highly nonlinear, and so they are very difficult to solve, even numerically. Two of the things that are believed by theoreticians to make some of the usually-ignored effects more important are narrowness of bore and presence of a double reed. In other words, union pipes and oboes are among the most difficult woodwind instruments to model theoretically, whereas clarinets and flutes are much simpler.

(To my knowledge, all of the "empirical demonstrations" suggesting that wall material is acoustically unimportant have been carried out with flutes and clarinets.)

I have a strong interest in acoustics and a considerable background in the scientific field (admittedly as a numerical simulations/programmer type), and was pre-disposed to believe, from these theoretical arguments, that material didn't matter much. But my ears, and hands-on experiences, are telling me otherwise.

I did a bit of power-spectrum analysis of two chanters which are nominally "the same" (same reamers, tonehole spacing/size, chimney heights). One was made of violet rosewood (dalbergia louvelli) and one of ebony (diospyros sp.). (I could have used balsa and epoxy I suppose, but in my view the results of experiments like that are less interesting than trying woods that are already believed to be suitable.) The two chanters definitely sounded different with the same reed, and I recorded them under the same conditions on the same day, then did some spectral analysis of selected notes (the D major arpeggio from bottom D to third-octave-d). The initial results seem to bear out a consistent difference in harmonics, though I would concede that they are not by any means conclusive. A few notes show little difference harmonically, but overall the ebony chanter has a weaker fundamental relative to the harmonics (meaning a brighter, more harmonically rich sound), and in particular the ebony chanter often has stronger 4th and 7th harmonics than the rosewood chanter, and may have more harmonics represented overall.

Here's a dramatic example, showing the A4 (first octave A) note for the rosewood chanter:
Image
and the ebony chanter:
Image

Note: The vertical axes in the two plots are NOT to scale.
If you look at the vertical axes you can see that on the rosewood chanter, the fundamental is dominant, whereas in the ebony chanter the fourth harmonic dominates, for a brighter sound. Also, note in the top time-axis graph how the fourth harmonic "develops" over a period of 50 ms or so. The rest of the plots show similar general phenomena, though for some notes the differences are more subtle.

These plots illustrate a lot of other physical phenomena - for instance, cutoff frequency effects associated with tonehole sizes (thus, weaker harmonic content in the second octave), and the overall similarity in harmonic profiles reflects the basic similarity in the two bores. In other words, the chanters sound very "similar" in a familial way, but the rosewood one has a more muffled sound when compared side-by-side with the ebony. I believe that the semi-quantitiative results in the plots show the physical evidence of this subjective impression.

Another interesting point is the apparent importance of the seventh harmonic. In many instruments I believe the seventh harmonic is considered undesirably "dissonant" (as it corresponds to a flat minor seventh), but it is one of the strongest harmonics in the hard D and in some other notes, at least in my experiments. I suggest that perhaps the 'dissonant' seventh harmonic is one of the ingredients in chanter tone that gives it a "crack".

Have a look at this plot of the ebony hard D, for instance:
Image
Note that the fundamental is very weak indeed!

If you want to look at all the plots, go to:
http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictu ... 1014&idx=2

I get the impression that very small bore deviations, on the order of a thousandth of an inch or less, and similarly quite small changes in tonehole size and undercutting, can have an appreciable effect on tone quality. For this reason, and the fact that my measurement and fabrication techniques are not good to the 0.01 mm accuracy, one would want to repeat this experiment with a collection of "supposedly-identical" chanters to have something statistically significant and/or conclusive. That said, I have made chanters from a number of woods, and the ebony ones have consistently seemed distinguishable from the others tonally (as well as in other ways).

David's comment below seems true to me, but in fact the theoretical arguments on both sides are presently mostly hand-waving, until someone can quantify them a bit better.
Bill

[


True...thanks for that Bill.the Jury is still out then!! :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:49 am 
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Thanks for they very enlightening post Bill. As I said in my previous post I haven't played chanters of different woods (actually I realize that isn't true - one is blackwood not ebony) but even if they were, they are by different makers or are different bores / pitches.

I have some empirical experience with bassoons where I can say that my experience supported the makers assesment of tonal differences between different woods in intruments with the same bore dimensions and using the same reed. On one hand they were very subtle but on the other as you get to know an instrument you can use pressure and embouchre to encourage ceratin harmonics and develop the tone. I was interested in your comment related to the development of a harmonic over time.

Quote:
If you look at the vertical axes you can see that on the rosewood chanter, the fundamental is dominant, whereas in the ebony chanter the fourth harmonic dominates, for a brighter sound. Also, note in the top time-axis graph how the fourth harmonic "develops" over a period of 50 ms or so. The rest of the plots show similar general phenomena, though for some notes the differences are more subtle.


Now we get into the subjective nature of playing instruments, but it is possible for players to acentuate subtle differences in instruments that may not be considered measurably so significant.


My second comment is related to wall thickness. I have owned and played multiple copies of saxophones with identical bore design and standard of manufacture made in bronze, brass and sterling silver. These are beleived to impart radically different tonal characteristics and empiracally I have found that to be true.

Bill - does your theoretical understanding lead you to believe that the thicker wall of a wooden instrument such a chanter will lead to less effect due to material properties?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:54 am 
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Great Work Bill (h) I think the graphs are a good indication of what's going on in the chanter, and it's too bad it will take a long time to generate a statistcaly "significant" sampling of all the woods and reeds.
In my experience of the "finger massage" of an "extra -vibratory" chanter air column, (which is a very rare experience for me, I can say that I have only encountered it 5 times in my life as a piper, now going on 36 years), I found in each case, that the reed had everything to do with it. When the "fantastic reed" was pulled out and another reed put in it's place, the massage stopped. There have been even rarer times when the bag itself, vibrated with the back pressure off one of those "magic" reeds. Comments, anybody?
Molecules -in Motion Sean Folsom


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:50 am 
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Hello!

Here are some thoughts on vibrations, both perceived ones and some physics

Sean: I think the vibrations are there all the time, it is only a matter of sensing them. To my experince, and through lectures from a violin teacher who was very fond of sensing the vigrations from the instrument; You are only able to sense the vibrations from a instrument if you are relaxed enough! Most string instruments players don't sense the vibrations from the strings even if they press the fingers to them! But they do vibrate, you only have to try to feel them. After practicing you can get better and better in sensing them(as with all practising). It can even be possible for a fiddle-player to feel the vibrations from the tone in the hand that holds the bow. One nice thing with working with feeling the vibrations while playing is that the high tension (wich prevents feeling the vibrations) is a important factor for getting injuries; so by working with sensing the vibrations you can also prevent hurting yourself by playing. One thing also influenceds with tension, is speed, you can play faster if you are more relaxed! So thereareonly good things with practising feeling the vibrations of your instrument! :-)

On wood influence of tonal quality; to be able to radiate sound efficiently, the vibrating object needs to be at least ½ the wavelength of the frequency to be radiated This is due to acoustic "shourt-circuit", the air decies to go to the backside of the object instead of radieating. With the speed of sound at 340m/s, at 20kHz(upper frequency limit of hearing) the wavelength is 1.7cm, 10kHz is 3.4 cm, 5kHz 6.8 cm, I would suspect that the wood can't have much influence on frquencies below 5 kHz, but that might be enough to get differences in tonal quality.

best wishes Anders


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