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Old 08-01-2019, 05:45 AM   #53
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Aix-en-Provence, France
Posts: 2,225
Default Re: New set by Pierre Blanchet

Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
I know most people on this thread know this, but just for the benefit of anyone else - remember that until after WWII, A was not fixed at 440 (indeed, until the ability to measure the speed of the vibration of air, it was not fixed at all).

The point is that we can't know what pitch any particular bagpipe was intended to play at - obviously, we can deduce from the instrument itself, which gets us close, but it's a mistake to think that the maker of Joseph MacDonald's bagpipe intended his low A to vibrate at 440 cycles per second. It's little more than coincidence that some historical instruments do.
Of course there was no standard pitch of any kind. Flutes from Joseph MacDonald's time had up to nine interchangeable mid-sections compensating pitch variations up to nearly a minor third. The earliest chanters that I have measured, with the remarkable exception of the famous Iain Dall, are often shorter than modern chanters and have a larger bore. One of these chanters, in the COP Museum collection in Glasgow (now at the NPC Museum) played at a higher pitch than any modern chanter when tested with a modern reed, and this is consistent with corresponding high-pitched early drones. The flattest chanters that I have encountered were made around 1860-1880, not in the eighteenth century.

By the way, I have just received pictures of Pierre Blanchet's abovementioned new reproduction of a third MacDonald pipe made in the 1830's, which looks (and sounds, according to the maker) absolutely amazing. Pierre will take these pipes to Patrick Molard for further sound tests. More soon, hopefully.
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