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Old 04-28-2012, 06:19 AM   #1
Randy McIntosh
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Default Piobaireachd High G sound

With all the talk of the "perfect" Piobaireachd High G....I am still at a loss as to what it is really supposed to sound like.

Is there or can there be a recording of an in tune chanter playing the scale using the Piobaireachd high G and a Piobaireachd high G maintained?

Not in a tune but as a solo recording...also would be nice to compare side by side with a normal high G.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:12 AM   #2
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

The piob G is a very variable note. There really does not seem to be any general consensus as to what it should sound and pitch like.

The main thing about it that's important is that it's stable, ie. does not fluctuate as it's being played.

To me a good piob G sounds very close to a normal high G, but it will have an extra little edge to the sound of it comparatively.

I've heard all ranges of this note, from a really strange sound to one that sounds almost exactly like a normal high G.

Shawn
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:29 AM   #3
cafi95
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

Hi !

Yes, I do agree with that.

I've just taken my chanter with a McLellan reed that's now give me a good piob HG.

There is in fact a very slight difference with the "regular" HG. But the piob's one sounds a bit more dramatic or sad, just a bit not so bright as the regular one. It looks like a "cry". I guess that's probably the reason why it's used in Ceol Mor.

I believed that result was due to the fact it has a slight lower pitch ... but that's not true as I've just managed to get it right in tune with the whole scale.

The sound is just a bit more "closed". That makes me think about pipe organ. If you want a 16 feet sound with a 8 feet pipe, you just close the top. You get a 16 feet sound but a loud one.

That's my own feeling about the piob HG. The fact is it's more difficult to stabilize that the normal one.

Hope that helps.

Philippe
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:45 AM   #4
colinmaclellan
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

The piobaireachd High G exists because the normal one does not fit into the scale which is typically used in almost all tunes in which High G is featured.

For example, (on a pipe chanter, preferable with drones - but you'll hear it also on the practice chanter) play the notes Low G, B, D, E, and High G (F finger on). Listen to the sound of the high G. It fits into that scale perfectly. (if your chanter is in tune!)

Then play the same note, finishing with the normal fingering. You will hear that the Hi G sounds ridiculously sharp.

The Hi G used in piobaireachd is typically 23 cents flatter than the normal one. The sole reason it is used in piobaireachd is quite simply that it needs to be that way in order to fit into the scale correctly.

I believe that the reason that the Hi G is becoming more and more difficult to stabilise is the hightening in pitch of the pipe chanters. Years ago, in the 1970's, it was easy to get a really good hi G, especially with the Hardie chanters. Nowadays sometimes it's well nigh impossible sometimes. I think it's the same as the type of thing in the 1930's when people had to put the little finger down on the bottom hand in order to create a C that was in tune. But with the hi G you can't get that distinctive unique timbre just by changing the fingering a bit.
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Last edited by colinmaclellan; 04-28-2012 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 01:29 PM   #5
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy McIntosh View Post
With all the talk of the "perfect" Piobaireachd High G....I am still at a loss as to what it is really supposed to sound like.

Is there or can there be a recording of an in tune chanter playing the scale using the Piobaireachd high G and a Piobaireachd high G maintained?

Not in a tune but as a solo recording...also would be nice to compare side by side with a normal high G.
There are 4 conventions for the tuning of the Piobaireachd high G. The first places it at the same pitch you would tune normal high G (7/4 ratio to the fundamental low A, 31.2 cents flat of equal temperament tuning), which seems very common these days. 2nd is 27 cents sharper than normal high G (16/9 ratio to the fundamental low A, 3.9 cents flat of equal temperament tuning, this is very rare). 3rd is is 9/5 of the fundamental low A at 18 cents sharp of ET. 4th is out of tune somewhere in between #1 and #2.

I have a short recording of the different high G's both tuned to the modern 31 cents flat in this blog post:
http://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordpress/?p=918
Direct link to recording:
http://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordp...11/05/bpg1.mp3

I have frequency analysis of several world class pipers here showing the use of the 7/4 modern high G, 16/9 high G, and the out of tune high G for the Piobaireach high G:
http://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordpress/?p=927

I only recently discovered the third high G as I've not heard it before until just recently, upon buying the Master Piper album of Donald MacPherson. At the beginning of the Earl of Seaforth's Salute, his high G is at ~847 Hz, relative to the 472 Hz A, this is roughly the ratio 9/5 high G that should be at 849 Hz, as opposed to the 16/9 at 839 Hz or the modern 7/4 at 826 Hz. This would be 22 cents sharper than Hugh McCallum's P'd high G (16/9, often immitated, never duplicated, apparently), and 49 cents sharper than the modern high G tuning.

This is a very underutilized webpage:
http://publish.uwo.ca/~emacphe3/pipes/

Here is a recording comprised of 3 short excerpts from commercially available recordings featuring the high G alone. The first is Donald MacPherson's high G from the Earl of Seaforth's Salute at 18 cents sharp of ET, followed by a splice that I had to duplicate several times for length as the note is very short played by Hugh McCallum in his rendition of Mary MacLeod at 4 cents flat of ET, and lastly Alasdair Gillies playing the King's Taxes at 31 cents flat of ET.
http://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordp...2/04/highg.wav

None of the above are "out of tune" despite the fact that they are at 3 different pitches (even if they had the same low A frequency, the first two are actually both at 472, Alasdair is at 478) because they are tuned to a frequency consistent with the definition of just intonation. That is, each note is a small ratio of the fundamental (hence all the fractions). They are in tune.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 04-28-2012 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

Patrick,
I appreciate the depth of your knowledge on this (and other) subjects.

You have put forth all the information in a straightforward manner.

It is also put out in a non biased fashion, allowing for people to make their own judgement on which one sounds best to them.

Well done, Sir!
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:54 AM   #7
Randy McIntosh
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

Thanks I guess....more confused now than when I posed the question.....
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:46 AM   #8
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

Randy, as Patrick McLaurin has eloquently pointed out, there are several ways to tune your G and keep it in a "just" intonation against the drones. You may want to go through your library of favourite ceol mor recordings and pick the one that sounds best to you, then try to figure out which of the Gs the player tuned to, then get to work trying to replicate that with your own chanter. If you play in a band I would suggest you do this with a nonband chanter and reed!

If you have the patience you can use software tools like Audacity to analyse the frequency spectrum of the G in that recording to help figure out which one it is. (if you are a total geek like me you can use Matlab too!) Again, Mr McLaurin explains this approach very well and Ewen MacPherson's website is also helpful.

I have found with my current modern chanter (McCallum) there is not a big frequency difference at all between my normal and piob G according to a tuner, but the sound is different (different mix of harmonics). I would also say I've found it harder to get a stable piob G with the reeds I've tried recently (mostly ridge cut), I'm not blowing a strong reed as I only play by myself. By contrast My old 1976 Grainger chanter has a brilliant piob G but it pitches down at A=466 whereas my MCC2 is sat at A=475.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
cafi95
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Default Re: Piobaireachd High G sound

I would suggest that the piob high G is not only a matter of pitch but a matter of tone, of colour.

Even played alone, without any drones, it sounds differently than the regular high G.

I cannot explain why from an accoustic point of view ... but the sound's colour is different.

The best to be convinced of that is to play both on a good solo chanter ...
with a good reed !

From another hand, I do believe that the constant pitch increasing of the chanters nowadays makes them more difficult to get rich tones due to a kind of lack of harmonics (that's probably the same problem with the drones) ... and perhaps the piob high G becomes a bit more difficult to obtain.

But that's only my own opinion !

Philippe
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Old 04-29-2012, 04:25 PM   #10
Patrick McLaurin
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Default

I'm unsure why an increase in the fundamental pitch would result in lower amplitude overtones. If anyone knows of a study that supports this often made suggestion I'd love to see it.
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