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MacTallanambeann 07-31-2019 05:37 PM

Just how low can you go?
Hi all,

Having a preference for lower pitched chanters myself and having been reading the thread on the replica MacDonald pipes I am just wondering what real world limit (finger spread, hole size, chanter length, drone range) is there likely to be on bagpipe chanters. Basically how low a frequency can you get Low A down to without the instrument becoming unplayable?

BaggyMcPipes 07-31-2019 07:58 PM

Re: Just how low can you go?
Interesting thought: by using a keyed system, to essentially extend your fingers' spread, probably could get pretty darn long... Look at a contrabass clarinet, saxophone, etc for example...

CalumII 08-01-2019 06:55 AM

Re: Just how low can you go?
It really depends what you consider to be a limit. You could build a pipe chanter that played in D quite easily, I think, and it would be playable, but you obviously couldn't tune drones to it, and it would need a reed of its own. And you could keep going, and start to solve new problems, with keys, folded drones, etc...

Reeded wind instruments in general can get down to very low notes, lower than a piano.

Kevin 08-01-2019 07:26 AM

Re: Just how low can you go?
Dont forget that SSP, with their straight bore, play a whole octave lower than GHB or BP. I am guessing this is not what you had in mind but shows that it is possible to design much slower pitched chanters.

Best regards,

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Rooklidge 08-01-2019 08:20 AM

Re: Just how low can you go?
From my own chanters, a very early Hardie was stable at A448, but the synthetic drone reeds had to be opened up too much to be easily playable, even with extenders. I think the bass drone would require 12 cm cane to get that low and remain stable and air efficient.

MacTallanambeann 08-01-2019 10:06 AM

Re: Just how low can you go?
Well what I actually meant was that, given the typical maximum length of drones currently made and the use of the longest possible drone reeds, how low could you go without the holes becoming too large, too far apart, or there being a requirement for keys which would change the essential way the instrument plays. Hard to do a birl with a keyed bottom note :grin:

I have no knowledge of all the ins and outs that determine how a chanter is designed in regard of bore, length, hole spacing, size etc. etc.

I was contemplating the viability of having a chanter made that could be as low as you can go when plugged into a conventional Highland bagpipe or even whether anyone has already produced such a chanter.

Currently the lowest I have is a rather tasty new poly Bflat chanter from Hardies that sounds really sweet with a standard chanter reed but I still feel there is some dark low frequency depths to be plummed.

Patrick McLaurin 08-01-2019 10:30 AM

Re: Just how low can you go?
I've gotten my drones all the way down to a reference pitch of 413 Hz. However, I'm tuning them against low G, not low A (which was at 464 Hz). With a C natural instead of a C#, this allowed me to play in G major which is useful for playing Northumbrian and Irish tunes, and I'm sure a whole host of other genres.

Sound samples can be found in the posts below.

Scottish tunes:

Mostly Irish tunes:

A Northumbrian tune or two:

Jeff Cullen 08-01-2019 12:33 PM

Re: Just how low can you go?
The lowest note on my Brian Boru chanter is Fnat.

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