Pipes and Whistles

Pipemaking, reedmaking & maintanence. Expert pipemakers are eager to answer your questions

Pipes and Whistles

Postby Tim Rolls » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:23 pm

One for the pipemakers, is there any correlation between Whistle/Flute hole spacing and nsp hole spacing?
An interesting calculator here
http://softflute.co.uk/Music/WhistleCalculator

Tim
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Re: Pipes and Whistles

Postby pipemakermike » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:37 pm

Hi Tim

I think that because the smallpipes have hole sizes close to or the same as the chanter bore the pitch is (mostly) controlled by the hole position.
In a whistle,flute or other wind instrument where the hole is smaller than the bore the diameter of the hole in relation to the bore plays a large part in the pitch of the note. Another difference the that these larger bored instruments often need more than one hole to be open to play a note in tune.
I had a look at the source code for the calculator to see if it had any lessons for us but it doesn't seem to.
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Re: Pipes and Whistles

Postby Francis Wood » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:05 pm

Is there any correlation between Whistle/Flute hole spacing and nsp hole spacing? . . . yes, there are many considerations in common.

However, the principal difference in function is that the whistle can overblow and therefore can play through several octaves and chromatically, in the hands of an expert player. It does that without the use of keys. This demands far greater design and compromise than the very simple NSP hole spacing. On the NSP, each hole is responsible for one note only.

Generally, I think what has historically decided hole positions on unmechanised woodwinds is a scale which respects comfort rather than anything more theoretical, with an emphasis on what the human hand and fingers can accomplish without strain. Putting your hands comfortably on a tube, marking finger positions and boring finger-holes will generally result in a reasonable scale, spaced out to achieve the desired pitch. This principle applies to both whistles and small-pipes. However special consideration is needed for the two smaller spacings in the major scale. The top semitone F# - G is no problem, since they're on opposite sides of the chanter. The lower semitone, B - C tries to preserve a convenient hole spacing with very much more difficulty, which is why the B is usually very large and the C unusually small.
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