What Octave?

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What Octave?

Postby garagepiper » Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:24 pm

Hi All,

My first post :

I'm refurbishing a set I made many years ago - I paid £5 for the original reed!
I'm now trying to make my own and would need some (very basic) help!

When tuning your chanter reed I understand you have to get it to sound C# and then you're aiming for the chanter top hole to sound F#.
My (silly?) question is - (very frustrated) what OCTAVE are we talking about?

As an engineer, rather than a musician, if someone told me the frequencies I'd know what I'm doing.

I have a blower and a manometer to set a constant 16" WG pressure in the bag and a PC programme (NCH) which shows me the note being sounded and how far away you are from the target one selected.

But what is the octave? (Is it C4, C5 or C6 ?).
As I think the C# and F# selected may have been in a higher one than the 'right' one (would this be the octave where A is 440Hz ?) which probably caused me to destroy most of my batch of reeds by shortening too much ...?

Please help as I'll soon run out of cane!
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Re: What Octave?

Postby Richard Evans » Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:25 pm

This is not a question that's ever occured to me but checking on my meter shows bottom F as F4 and top F as F5.

I'd suggest a simpler approach. make a reed 50-51mm long which has a reasonable crow, fit it to the chanter so that octaves are in tune with each other and see where you are. Then refine as required, but don't trim the reed too much, if I have to go below about 49mm I'd probably reject the reed. And don't aim for F#, go for F or up to 20 cents sharp of F.
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Re: What Octave?

Postby garagepiper » Tue Apr 05, 2016 8:26 pm

Thanks Richard,

Taking your point about reed length, with a 49mm long reed (I just measured it) I was 3 1/2 to 4 notes too low against the A6 octave.
Which would suggest I was that amount high against the A5 would it not?

To get the pitch down - and as one has to trim the lips square, wouldn't the slip need to start off a bit longer that the standard 3 1/2 inches - like 3 5/8 maybe..?

Years ago I made a chanter reed and must have got it right for I played in tune, on separate occasions, with an accordion, a fiddle and a concert flute.
I just don't know how I did it those 30 odd years back - if only I could remember!

Your thoughts appreciated.

Maurice
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Re: What Octave?

Postby Richard Evans » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:36 pm

garagepiper wrote:Thanks Richard,

Taking your point about reed length, with a 49mm long reed (I just measured it) I was 3 1/2 to 4 notes too low against the A6 octave.
Which would suggest I was that amount high against the A5 would it not?



I can't make anything of this I'm afraid, I work in cents not HZ, I don't look at the octave, and using A as a reference is a bad idea for good musical reasons. There are excellent online and printed resources, I suggest you start here:
http://www.machineconcepts.co.uk/smallpipes/pipe2.htm

And our website has a reedmaking section including a sound file of the reed being sucked.

The most detailed resources on reedmaking are Colin Ross's videos (YouTube) and book (from NPS), both essential in my opinion.

Hope that's useful.
Richard
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Re: What Octave?

Postby KimBull » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:09 pm

Maurice,
If the reed is the right size/thickness as Richard advises, and the chanter is well made then the 'right' octave the chanter plays should look after itself.

Have you tried your reed in the chanter? Check Richards advice about the chanter playing in the F4/F5 octave on the bottom and top finger/thumb holes of the chanter. If it is too sharp then yes, you may have shortened it too much. You may be able to flatten it by moving it out of the chanter further (although this will effect the accuracy of the octave).

If you are concerned about its pitch when sucked when out of the chanter, or if it doesn't play in the chanter well, does your reed sound a lower octave note when sucked more (very) gently? If not, it might be too stiff. Stiff reeds produce high frequencies (notes), flexible reeds produce lower frequencies.

Maybe, you need to scrape it more to thin it and make it more flexible until a more gentle suck gets a lower octave note. Then if you suck it harder again it should jump up to somewhere around where it is now.

Hope this helps,
Kim
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Re: What Octave?

Postby garagepiper » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:07 pm

Hi Kim,

Yes I tried it in my D chanter and got the results mentioned, ie, seemed to be 3 1/2 to 4 notes too high - relative to concert pitch (A5 = 440Hz).

I'll fiddle about with it as you suggest but would rather start afresh and have just gouged out 2 slips from my last bits of cane - recommend a supplier?

This time I'll make sure the vibrating blades are a fraction longer and use a 3/4" instead of the 7/8" staple to allow seating further into the chanter.

Reed-making is such fun don't you think!

Regards

Maurice
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Re: What Octave?

Postby Richard Evans » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:42 am

garagepiper wrote:Hi Kim,

Yes I tried it in my D chanter and got the results mentioned, ie, seemed to be 3 1/2 to 4 notes too high - relative to concert pitch (A5 = 440Hz).

Maurice


I think I possibly know what's going on. Is your tuner the type where you select a note and when you play, the tuner tells you how far sharp or flat you are? If you select an A but then play the top fingered note of a D chanter, the meter will tell you the pitch is four notes too high. That seems the only way to explain this. The greatest possible variation between the flattest and sharpest playable reeds would be less than a tone in my experience.

Reed cane from Dawkes Music.
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Re: What Octave?

Postby garagepiper » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:36 am

Thanks Richard,

The 'tuner' I used was a freebie from - http://www.nch.com.au/tuner
Maybe you'd take a looksee and say what you think - probably more suited to stringed instrument setting up.

Since using it for the pipes, I've downloaded the most recent version and I'll check it against my accordion today.

Appreciate professionals like yourself taking the time to try and sort out amateurish probs!

Regards

Maurice
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Re: What Octave?

Postby Richard Evans » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:23 pm

I don't think that looks the best for the job. I have used Chromatia for PC, Anita uses Cleartune for Android phone. You want something which displays a needle dial showing target and cents sharp/flat.
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Re: What Octave?

Postby edric » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:36 am

I use "gStrings" on Android - so good I even paid the £3.99 for the ad-free version. It seems to work pretty well. It has a bewildering array of temperaments built-in, and you can even enter your own instrument as a custom scale entering exact Hz values for the notes you want.
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