Reedmaking and tone.

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ennischanter
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Reedmaking and tone.

Post by ennischanter »

In regards to that thread on the Williams set and the talk about reeds and how much they can affect tone:

I recall talking about that haunting dark, broad, round, woody timbre Séamus Ennis’s chanter had when it was in his possession, especially with his Bottom D.

I also heard that similar, dark, Bottom D on other C# sets played by McAloon, Molard, Brian Vallely, and Tommy Reck with his Kenna B set.My C# chanter sounds pretty much as good as any C# in those recordings tone wise, the Bottom D has a much brighter ring to it though.

I know the chanter dimensions will play a bigger factor in tone, and I know this is probably an outlandish and absurd question, I am just very very intrigued to know how much I could “change” the tone of my chanter, by making different reeds for it, and if possible how I could do it? I’m assuming chanter behaviour can change at least somewhat?


Many thanks 👌👍
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by Glenarley »

As my brother is the uilleann reed and chanter maker in the family, I raised this question with him and it is more about the chanter than the reed. Many makers use restrictions and bore/hole design modifications to get the tone preferences.
This is way too complicated for me to try to explain in this thread but if you are really interested, contact him, murray.jackson@xtra.co.nz, he will point you to the information that defines these tone preferences and the different modifications used by the different makers.

Cheers

-G
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by Driftwood »

ennischanter wrote: Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:13 am I recall talking about that haunting dark, broad, round, woody timbre Séamus Ennis’s chanter had when it was in his possession,
Someone once told me that my particular chanter/reed combination at that time sounded "woody". I don't think it was meant as a compliment. My guess is that said person was implying that it lacked "fizz" and that a better reed was required. If I had known that it implied "haunting, dark, broad, round" then I would have been a lot happier.

I think I know what "fizz" means (although I'm hoping no one challenges me to provide an explanation) but now I'm not so sure about "woody". Any takers?
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by PJ »

I don't think it's possible to generalize on whether good tone comes from the reed or the chanter. It comes from a being able to match a good chanter and a good reed. Also, good tone and good tuning are often difficult to get together, and it takes experience to know how to adjust the reed (bridle, seating, scraping, etc.) and chanter (rushes, tape, etc.) to get the lot in tune, but without losing tone. It's a delicate balance.

Other than the reed and chanter, the piper has a bit to do with creating tone - how he/she attacks the note. A few years back, I had the opportunity to play Paddy Keenan's pipes at a workshop. He had been playing the set earlier in the class and it sounded great - bright and sweet. When I played his chanter, the reed sounded a little dull and muted. When he took it back, it sounded great again. Nobody had adjusted the reed. Paddy was just able to find the sweet spot on each of the notes.
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by Ceann Cromtha »

PJ wrote: Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:48 am Other than the reed and chanter, the piper has a bit to do with creating tone - how he/she attacks the note. A few years back, I had the opportunity to play Paddy Keenan's pipes at a workshop. He had been playing the set earlier in the class and it sounded great - bright and sweet. When I played his chanter, the reed sounded a little dull and muted. When he took it back, it sounded great again. Nobody had adjusted the reed. Paddy was just able to find the sweet spot on each of the notes.
That’s an amazing story!
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by PJ »

Ceann Cromtha wrote: Mon Aug 23, 2021 8:36 am That’s an amazing story!
An amazing story would have been that I played Paddy's set and sounded just like him. :lol:
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by Ceann Cromtha »

I’m sure that you would have sounded terrific in any event, Patrick. :thumbsup:

We’ve heard similar anecdotes with the same conclusion but this is has essential details that drive the point home.
ennischanter
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by ennischanter »

All very interesting, thanks
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ennischanter
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Tell us something.: If you flush your toilet 14 times whilst lilting "The Bucks of Oranmore", an apparition of one of the great pipers of old will appear in the mirror, you will be blessed with good reeds, but cursed with bad bags and bellows.
Location: Alberta Canada

Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by ennischanter »

Glenarley wrote: Sun Aug 22, 2021 8:57 pm As my brother is the uilleann reed and chanter maker in the family, I raised this question with him and it is more about the chanter than the reed. Many makers use restrictions and bore/hole design modifications to get the tone preferences.
This is way too complicated for me to try to explain in this thread but if you are really interested, contact him, murray.jackson@xtra.co.nz, he will point you to the information that defines these tone preferences and the different modifications used by the different makers.

Cheers

-G
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ausdag
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by ausdag »

Driftwood said: " Someone once told me that my particular chanter/reed combination at that time sounded "woody".

I personally prefer a woody tone. After all, the chanter is made of wood so I want it to reflect the material it is made from. However, I think you can still make a distinction between 'woody' and 'dull'. When I play my Bb chanter, it has what I think is a nice woody tone, but there are still plenty of harmonics to be heard. A dull chanter is 'dull' because these harmonics are not coming through.
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by rorybbellows »

I've often wondered with all other things being equal, will an instrument like pipes sound differently to the listener and player. With your body being in contact with the instrument an your location to the source of the sound, would this change how you hear the tone
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ausdag
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by ausdag »

rorybbellows wrote: Sun Oct 31, 2021 6:36 am I've often wondered with all other things being equal, will an instrument like pipes sound differently to the listener and player. With your body being in contact with the instrument an your location to the source of the sound, would this change how you hear the tone
RORY
When a fellow piper came over to play tunes, we swapped pipes and were amazed at how different our own pipes sounded 'from the front'. When I test my prototype chanters, I like to lean over as far as I can to the front of the chanter to get a better impression of the tone, or I play up close to a wall to hear the harmonics bouncing back.
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by myrddinemrys »

It is a part of the system, or a link in the chain, so to speak. Much of the tone is in the chanter. The reed is simply an air pressure valve that delivers the impulse. I also think a part of that chain is the player, as fingers do provide some degree of control of how the tone is delivered to the listener.
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Re: Reedmaking and tone.

Post by pancelticpiper »

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