How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

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How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

Postby papabear » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:20 pm

Hello, I have just purchased a set of used Richard Evans NSP with two chanters, one is in F and the other in G. My question is to what notes should one tune the drones to for each chanter, the chanters should be tuned to the tonic and the fifth if I read the info I have correctly? that is for a G chanter, large to G, and the small to D is that correct? If so, when I play the F chanter do I tune the drones respectivly to F & C. :?:
I expect I´ve got this all wrong and welcome any tips out there on offer thankyou. Chris / Osnabrück - Germany.
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Re: How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

Postby dsomerville » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:26 am

Hi Chris
It's more about the key the tune you're playing is in. If I'm playing a tune that's written in the key of G (though on an F chanter it will really be in F when it's played) then I'd tune the drones to the tonic and fifth of G major - G and D (though this would sound as F and C in reality on an F chanter). If the key of the tune was D major, then the drones would be tuned to D and A. A tune in A minor would need drones tuned to A and E.
Hope this makes sense!
David
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Re: How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

Postby RobSay » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:40 pm

Hi Chris - this is much easier to explain in person - I hope I can help .. I'll try to be consistent and use 'musicians notation' (F=F) throughout .
I don't know your musical background; what follows is a basic primer so feel free to skip sections if these are egg sucking instructions!

First question: Are your drones in F (piper's pitch) or in G (concert pitch)?
- Let's assume they are in F as this is the most likely scenario.

With an F chanter and F drones, the tuning is relatively straight forward - your 4 drones are in F or C

1. Smallest drone (little F)
- plays a note of F - it is the same pitch (octave) as the lowest finger hole on the chanter
- is the most susceptible to pressure changes
- can be hard to distinguish from the bottom note
- might have a tuning bead (which would play a G) - make sure this is closed

2. Second smallest (little C)
- plays a note of C - it is the same pitch (octave) as the lowest keyhole on a 7k chanter
- might have a tuning bead (which would play a D) - make sure this is closed

3. Drone #3 (big F)
- sometimes called the 'big G' ... plays a note of F, an octave below the lowest finger hole on the chanter
- probably will have a tuning bead (which would play a G) - make sure this is closed

4. Largest Drone (big C)
- often called 'big D' -plays a note an octave below the lowest key on a 7k chanter
- consumes the most air

To start with:
- make sure all of the tuning beads are closed & close all of the pistons, the drones should make no noise at all
- move the slider on drone #3 to a midpoint on the tenon (the standing part)
- open the piston on drone #3 - it should be approximately close to F.
- experiment with the slider to make it sharper (push in) or flatter (pull out); don't try and 'tune'
- once you are happy you can hear the change, play the bottom finger hole on the chanter - this should also be close to F and you should be able to adjust the drone to match this note

second step is to add the next smallest drone (little 'C')
- adjust to roughly middle of slide & open piston
- with the chanter holes covered, ask yourself 'does this sound nice?' (keep the answer in your head)
- adjust the small C drone a little inwards and ask 'does that sound better?' ... if it's worse; go the other way .. adjust until the two drones are in the 'nicest' sound

Electronic tuners can be a good aid in getting the two drones to 'F' and 'C' - which is close to where they need to be. There is however no substitute for playing the bottom finger note on the chanter with the drone(s) and asking yourself 'does this sound nice?' You may also find that when tuning your drones, you inadvertently change the pressure in the bag - so when you bring the chanter in, your drones are suddenly out of tune.

Having done all that with the F chanter .... you may now want to switch to the G chanter.
- close all the pistons
- open the tuning bead on drone #3 (big F) .. this is now approximately concert G, tune to your lowest finger hole on the G chanter
- open the tuning bead on drone #2 (little C) .. this is now approximately concert D, tune to the drone above

Just to complicate matters - I have seen Richard's pipes also tune from 'F' to 'G' just on the slider (without using the tuning bead). If your pipes are set up to do this then I'd follow that approach.

This is the most basic introductory starting point; there are multiple other ways to tune - the most useful being using the 5th note on the chanter (LH ring finger) as the reference note.
I would ignore minor tunings until you are comfortable with working the middle two drones in standard F pitch.

Hope this helps.

Rob
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Re: How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

Postby Richard Evans » Wed Jul 29, 2015 7:15 pm

[quote="RobSay"

Just to complicate matters - I have seen Richard's pipes also tune from 'F' to 'G' just on the slider (without using the tuning bead). If your pipes are set up to do this then I'd follow that approach.

[/quote]

I don't know what pattern this set is but if it only has one bead, each drone will tune to two different notes by moving the slide. So the notes available are :
(smallest drone to biggest)- f/g, c/d, F/G/A (plays A with the slide pushed in and bead open), C/D. In each case the lower note is obtained with the slide pulled out until the thread wrapping is almost showing. Assuming the reeds are set up to do that!

Richard
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Re: How to tune the drones for a new boy !?

Postby papabear » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:10 am

Thanks everyone for you kind help and taking the time to write so much information! I think I´ve understood just about everything (I hope) :) Best wishes from Germany. Chris.
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