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Getting started!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:32 pm
by Ptarmigan
Well 2012 is here & I've started trying to get to grips with my recently acquired wee set of NPs.

Step 1 for me, will be to learn to control the Bag & Bellows, while learning to tune the Drones.
I already play a few other instruments, so I'm actually in no rush to play tunes on them, yet. ;)
I have heard Pipers play without using their drones, which to me sounds like a Box player not using his Bass buttons .... or trying to eat a Cheese Sandwich without Pickle! :lol:
So I'm very keen to learn how to use of the drones, to good effect.

Anyway, while I wait for Butler's Basic Tutor & Handbook to drop through my letterbox, I'd like to ask these 2 questions:

When playing in F, do I tune the drones, short to long: F, C, F & C?

When playing in C, do I tune the drones, short to long: G, C, off & C?

Thanks.
Dick

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:36 pm
by John Gibbons
Dick,
You are right that drones are part of the sound,
and anyway you need to get used to keeping the chanter in tune with them.

But four drones on would be a pig to tune, and they will use rather a lot of air.
Tom Clough liked this for some tunes in D though.
Even three drones are tricky for a beginner - at least they were when I was one.

If playing in F (which everyone calls G) it might be better to start with just two,
the lowest tonic, the larger F, and the dominant above it, the smaller c.
I would call these G and d, as all the music is written as though in G, whatever pitch the pipes sound in.

For tunes in D (actual C), start with the big D drone,
together with the larger G drone above it - retuned to A using its bead hole.

You will need to listen carefully for beats between drones that need to be fifth apart.
A tuning meter will help a lot, and you will need to listen carefully.
Also helpful will be a water manometer, so that you can be sure you are playing at a steady and sensible pressure,
so that the drones and chanter are all in tune and staying there.
John Liestman's Tutor which you can download at
http://www.liestman.com/The%20Northumbr ... estman.pdf
is very detailed and helpful, especially if you can't get hands-on advice from an experienced player.

John

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:02 am
by adrian
A problem with beginners is overblowing and knackering the drone-reeds. Do not play the chanter, seal it with your fingers-if you can! Put the lowest pitch drone on-it's more tolerant of bag-pressure change. Try to keep the pitch of the drone steady without your bellows-pumping altering the bag-pressure.That's a start. Do this for at least a fortnight-on and off, each day.

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:50 am
by Ptarmigan
John Gibbons wrote:You will need to listen carefully for beats between drones that need to be fifth apart.
A tuning meter will help a lot, and you will need to listen carefully.
Also helpful will be a water manometer, so that you can be sure you are playing at a steady and sensible pressure,
so that the drones and chanter are all in tune and staying there.
John Liestman's Tutor which you can download at
http://www.liestman.com/The%20Northumbr ... estman.pdf
is very detailed and helpful, especially if you can't get hands-on advice from an experienced player.

John


Thanks John,

Yes, I think I'm slowly starting to get the hang of that bleeting sound, but I'm not there yet.
Certainly is much easier, when your just working with 2 drones at a time.
Thanks for that link too, it certainly is very, very useful.

Cheers,
Dick

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:56 am
by Ptarmigan
adrian wrote:A problem with beginners is overblowing and knackering the drone-reeds. Do not play the chanter, seal it with your fingers-if you can! Put the lowest pitch drone on-it's more tolerant of bag-pressure change. Try to keep the pitch of the drone steady without your bellows-pumping altering the bag-pressure.That's a start. Do this for at least a fortnight-on and off, each day.


Thanks Adrian.

As I play tunes on a few instruments already, I'm actually in no hurry to play the chanter. I really have no desire to go anywhere near the Chanter, until I can get rid of that horrible up & down wailing sound, which drives me & my terriers nuts! :x

However, to prevent the Chanter Reed from sounding, I'm always folding up the top of the bag, just above the chanter, while I work on the drones, but I'm just a little bit concerned that I'm not doing the leather of the bag any favours.
Is there perhaps a better way to prevent the chanter from sounding, while I try to get the hang of working the Bag & Bellows & tune the Drones?

Cheers,
Dick

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:04 pm
by John Gibbons
A decent bag will tolerate being folded at the neck - don't worry about that.
But generally, the way to stop the chanter playing, as Adrian says, is to cover the fingerholes - your fingers need to learn where these are.
You need to stop the chanter this way between any 2 notes you play.
Only when adjusting the drones for tuning, will you need to have a hand free.

John

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:30 am
by adrian
John Gibbons wrote:A decent bag will tolerate being folded at the neck - don't worry about that.
But generally, the way to stop the chanter playing, as Adrian says, is to cover the fingerholes - your fingers need to learn where these are.
You need to stop the chanter this way between any 2 notes you play.
Only when adjusting the drones for tuning, will you need to have a hand free.

John

You need to get used to the chanter. Folding the neck will get you used to holding the bag and winding in that manner, which is not good, as you will have learnt to wind in an unatural way. Fingering the chanter as well as winding will give you 2 things to think about and will feel correct in the end.

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:59 pm
by Ptarmigan
John Gibbons wrote:A decent bag will tolerate being folded at the neck - don't worry about that.
... the way to stop the chanter playing, as Adrian says, is to cover the fingerholes - your fingers need to learn where these are.
You need to stop the chanter this way between any 2 notes you play.
Only when adjusting the drones for tuning, will you need to have a hand free.
John


Yes, I can see how this is going to be the way forward, so the sooner I get used to finding all those tiny little holes, the better. :)

Cheers,
Dick

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:14 pm
by petermdoyle
Hi, my wife Susan is interested in getting started with the Northumbrian Pipes.

I have been told that the NP actually hire out pipes. (Tony Robinson)

Are you able to confirm and provide me with the cost.

I would like to hire a set and then hopefully purchase a set. (again your assistance and guidance would be appreciated)

Best Regards

Pete Doyle

Re: Getting started!

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:52 pm
by petermdoyle
Hi all, thanks to Roddy I now have a set of pipes for my wife.

We have read all the pitfalls and want to proceed using the best methods.

Is there a suitably experienced NP player in Ayrshire who would be able to give my wife some lessons so that
she can get started.

Please let us know, all assistance gratefully received, and we do realsie there is a cost to peoples time.

Best regrds

Peter & Susan Doyle :)