Tuning chart for pipes

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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby pipemakermike » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:34 pm

The point of the chart is to get the chanter in tune. Traditional smallpipes play at a nominal pitch of "F" but just where that F is in relation to concert pitch (A=440) depends on how the maker set the set up. Some makers in the past have not cared about the set playing at exactly concert F but somewhere close and often a bit sharp. The main thing was to get the set in tune with its self so that all the notes were in the correct relationship. Imagine it is like a guitar in the days before electronic tuners when you set one string in tune till it sounded about right and tuned all the other strings to it. and all the other instruments in the band would then tune to the guitar. The group could easily be a semitone away from concert pitch.
My choice was to go for Concert F then I could play with any fixed pitch instrument. It is more demanding to make a set play exactly in tune at concert pitch regardless if it is a G set or a traditional F set. The problem with the F & a bit tuning is that there is no universal agreement on how much the "& a bit" is.
It is impossible to force a standard pitch. It seems to be almost a religion to stick to a local pitch. Of course as soon as the pipes are used in a band setting with fixed pitch instruments all the F and a bit nonsense goes out of the window and concert pitch rules regardless of local sensibilities. Note that by concert pitch I mean any note that is related to A=440
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby workers and drones » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:41 am

W&D
Thanks for that Mike! - Precisely! - just what I've been saying; The chart will probably give you a perfectly(as close as possible lets say) in tune chanter in concert F and you would be happy with that enabling you to play in tune with other instruments. Now go along to the many group sessions there are with the in tune concert F set around the country and play 20cents flat all night and this illustrates the point I'm making. Your phrase "some makers in the past haven't cared about the set playing at exactly concert F" makes my point - its not the people who are playing the instruments who need to be standardised, its the makers!.
I am with you on the lets all play in concert F or G etc. but lets all play "in tune". Will this ever become a reality? - probably not soon!.
I would agree that you can't force a standard but the more people beat the drum about tuning and the benefits of a universal norm the better!.
Wish I'd gone for concert pitch! Still got an F+20cents set to exchange. ;)

W&D
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby Richard Evans » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:46 am

workers and drones wrote:W&D
its not the people who are playing the instruments who need to be standardised, its the makers!.
)

W&D


Historically, not all makers agreed that concert F was desirable. So, we are where we are, and (probably) the majority of sets around right now are most comfortable and sound best sharp of concert pitch.

A couple of other points:
1. Our chanters and probably many others can be reeded to play well at either concert pitch or 20 cents sharp.
2. Temperature has a marked effect on pitch. A440 is referred to 20C. At 23C the same instrument will play 10 cents sharp. This is not due to the effect of heat on the reed, it is due to the speed of sound through air which changes with temp.. If playing with somebody else, you won't notice because all instruments are affected equally.
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby workers and drones » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:22 pm

W&D
Very interesting! I've learned loads from this discussion - When you say most sets can be reeded to play well in either concert F or F+20cents do you mean a different pitch in the reed itself? Having read Colin Ross on reed making, he maintains that the reed should have a "crow" sound of C# and I think when the reed is "set" in the chanter all is in tune @F+20. To achieve concert F are we looking for a reed to sound C# minus 20cents so at the same "set" would this produce a chanter in tune i.e.concert F?.
From many years experience of other woodwind reeded instruments; one saxophonist in mind used a very soft reed that other players wouldn't touch because it played flat on a tighter embouchure and sounded dull; however the player in question drilled almost through the reed at the ligature end and produced a very easy blowing but bright sounding reed and in tune!. Would or could this strategy be applied to pipe reeds as mentioned above perhaps flattening the reed slightly by over thinning the lips and drilling to brighten?
Also would individual notes need to be tweaked for each reed? the idea that you could have pipes playing at both pitches simply with an exchange of reed sounds very appealling! would this work? - I'm able to make a basic reed but haven't honed the skill sufficiently yet to get that awesome one! but would spend more time on this if I thought this was possible! - or am I on the wrong page completely?.
:o
W&D
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby Richard Evans » Sat Aug 23, 2014 11:15 am

workers and drones wrote:W&D
Very interesting! I've learned loads from this discussion - When you say most sets can be reeded to play well in either concert F or F+20cents do you mean a different pitch in the reed itself? Having read Colin Ross on reed making, he maintains that the reed should have a "crow" sound of C# and I think when the reed is "set" in the chanter all is in tune @F+20. To achieve concert F are we looking for a reed to sound C# minus 20cents so at the same "set" would this produce a chanter in tune i.e.concert F?.

Also would individual notes need to be tweaked for each reed? the idea that you could have pipes playing at both pitches simply with an exchange of reed sounds very appealling! would this work? - I'm able to make a basic reed but haven't honed the skill sufficiently yet to get that awesome one! but would spend more time on this if I thought this was possible! - or am I on the wrong page completely?.
:o
W&D


The difference is very slight, to flatten it generally requires a few strokes with fine wet/dry and/or open it up very slightly. I use the same reed in my own set for both pitches, just open or close it a little.
.
For general playing, for many players, you probably wouldn't need to look at individual notes. For a professional or concert set-up, I would always check all notes after any adjustment, and be prepared for example to set the reed a very small amount (0.5mm steps) further in or out.

I'd always encourage players to make and adjust their own reeds, but it's a skill which takes time and a bit of confidence to acquire.
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby Vic Hill » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:31 pm

pipemakermike wrote:One famous player has the C set about 10cents sharp to the "perfect" value and I think that this is because of the colouration to the pitch from the vibrato and may differ from chanter to chanter.

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is a "C set"? I'm wondering if it is like an elongated concert D set or if it is a variant of the traditional extended chanter as shown in C&B?
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Re: Tuning chart for pipes

Postby Richard Evans » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:29 pm

Vic Hill wrote:
pipemakermike wrote:One famous player has the C set about 10cents sharp to the "perfect" value and I think that this is because of the colouration to the pitch from the vibrato and may differ from chanter to chanter.

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is a "C set"? I'm wondering if it is like an elongated concert D set or if it is a variant of the traditional extended chanter as shown in C&B?


I think Mike means that the C note on this particular F chanter is tuned 10 cents sharp.

Pipes in C do exist and and the chanter is indeed like a D chanter but longer.
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