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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 05-04-2012, 06:04 PM   #1
LindyHoppingPiper
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Default Why The Pitch Increase?

I know it's been the trend and whatever, but what ultimately fueled the pitch increase over the past few decades? Is there any logical reason for it, or is it in fact just a "trend?"

It's something I've never really understood, I'll admit. I'll also admit I don't find 480+ a very pleasant pitch to listen to, but that's just my individual taste.
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:43 PM   #2
Ari
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

My understanding has always been that it's a psychological phenomenon mixed with competition. If two bands play back to back and everything else is equal except that one band is slightly higher pitched than the other, I had understood that the mind perceived the higher-pitched band to be "more in tune" than the lower-pitched band. Give this phenomenon a few decades to act and competition as a stimulus and you wind up with pitch creep.

In any event, that's what I've always been told.
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:56 PM   #3
Dougie Forsyth
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

Modern drums!!!!!!!!!!!! solo pipers play at lower pitch with much better sound
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

Absolutely right on about the drums. Pipes do sound better especially in solo at a lower pitch
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

I've heard it's partly to do with drums as well. It has something to do with the materials they're using to manufacture the heads. In a nutshell they're much more resistant to breaking so you're able to get them very tight. You achieve a much clearer sound. It also raises the pitch of the drum from what I understand. I'm sure a drummer would be able to explain it better.
A piping friend was saying it had a bit to do with SFU in the later part of the 1990's. I think they were between 484 and 486 at one point. They were raising the pitch here and there. Other bands got in on it and there was a pitch creep as Ari said. The higher pitch band sounded brighter. It just so happened the bands doing it were very good and won a few World's. Then some Cd's were released, people found out what their pitch was and it trickled down the grades. Next thing you know pipe makers are making higher pitched chanters because people want them. Since there are far more band players the solo players are stuck with higher pitched chanters and a piobaireachd high G that's harder to get.
The other thing that may have had an impact on the solo scene is some of the top players at the time were in bands. Willie McCallum, Roddy MacLeod, Jack Lee, Stuart Liddell, Bruce Gandy, James Murray, John Cairns and many others making their way up to Oban and Inverness. The guys that played in bands may have brought the pitch up without realizing it. Some of them may have been using band chanters.
I think the pitch has settled in for now. It really shouldn't come up much more or we're going to sound like a piccolo. It seems there's a lot of people that aren't happy with how much the pitch has come up. It's likely one of the reasons pipe makers have chanters that pitch at 466htz. There's a video on YouTube of Roger Huth playing a circa 1890 Henderson chanter. It's pitched at 440. It's absolutley haunting.

Last edited by Piperalpha; 05-04-2012 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

I can understand how a band tuned a few cents higher would sound "crisper", but I would love to see how judges would react to a band showing up tuned at 440. The gap would be so wide, they could not interpret it as being "out of tune". Would their ears adjust fast enough so they could apreciate the music, or would it really sound bad to them you think ?
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:42 AM   #7
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

I suspect it is more to do with the drones. At a higher pitch they are clearer while at a lower pitch they are richer.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillmore View Post
I can understand how a band tuned a few cents higher would sound "crisper", but I would love to see how judges would react to a band showing up tuned at 440. The gap would be so wide, they could not interpret it as being "out of tune". Would their ears adjust fast enough so they could apreciate the music, or would it really sound bad to them you think ?
Eric,
I think it would be quite a shock to the judge if a band showed up significantly flatter. Solos are a bit different. The five minutes you're given to tune up is enough time for the judges ear to climatize to your pitch. You'd likely get knocked if you played at 466 or lower.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:08 AM   #9
el gaitero
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillmore View Post
I can understand how a band tuned a few cents higher would sound "crisper", but I would love to see how judges would react to a band showing up tuned at 440. The gap would be so wide, they could not interpret it as being "out of tune". Would their ears adjust fast enough so they could apreciate the music, or would it really sound bad to them you think ?
..then the band would be out of tune with the drums.... unless the drums were ?? Remo with calf/syn heads from ca 1960. A Catch 22 situation if today's drums.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: Why The Pitch Increase?

"Phenomena" is a word that makes the whole thing sound better to the ears of people doing it. I prefer a more "ear wrinkling word" to describe it... FEAR

Bands are afraid of playing at a slightly lower pitch than the previous band, especially if that slightly lower pitch sounds better to the band doing it. Bands that have such a fear might re-evaluate a certain Tune in their repertoire...

What I would like to know, if the first band that goes on is well above the pitch of everyone else.. will everyone else sound "dreadfully flat" ???
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