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Old 07-03-2020, 11:29 AM   #1
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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Default The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

The WARBL MIDI controller is amazing! Combined with Appcordians' Uilleann Pipe app, I now have a fully digital MIDI uilleann pipe that sounds incredibly realistic! ALL the audio in this video is straight from the app and you can see me playing it all on the WARBL.

Link to video!

Now to get it hooked up to a real uilleann pipe wind cap and fashion a bag for it...
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:33 PM   #2
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Your video prompts two questions, each with an observation attached:

1) Does pressure on the arm controls the octaves?
Is it set up in such a way that there's one pressure (or lack of pressure) for the whole low octave, and a second, higher pressure for the whole 2nd octave?

If so, this sadly reinforces a misconception that Highland pipers usually have about the uilleann pipes, and will ingrain bad habits in the person wanting someday to play the actual uilleann pipes.

Highland pipers try to blow the entire low octave at one steady pressure as they would the Highland pipes, and think you suddenly have a big leap in pressure for the first note of the 2nd octave, and maintain that exact pressure for every subsequent note in the 2nd octave. I suppose the analogy would be the octave key of the saxophone.

But uilleann pipes aren't like that. There's a core group of notes, from around G in the low octave to around F# in the 2nd octave, which are at nearly equal pressure. Then for low F# and low E you have to back off a tad, then for Hard Bottom D you have to push harder.

Once you get past F# in the 2nd octave each note, G, A, then B, each require a hair more pressure than the note before.

2) Can you peel the fingers off the holes for a gentle attack?
I notice you're lifting your fingers like Highland pipers do.

Uilleann pipers acquire the habit of gently lifting the fingers off the holes in sort of an uncurling or peeling motion that gives a sweet attack to the notes. Highland pipers want the fingers to pop off the chanter as suddenly as possible.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:32 PM   #3
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Great questions! The pressure is what you observed, one pressure for the lower octave, and one for the higher. And yes, you are indeed correct about the actual nature of the uilleann pipes and the pressures involved (nothing close to stead across either octave). That said, it's pretty easy to get used to when playing this and it's nice to have access tot he second octave through pressure (even if not quite "right") than a key or removing the thumb or something similar.

Second question: I've been told the WARBL can indeed be programmed to behave with the gentle fingers of an uilleann piper (bending notes and similar). That said, in its default settings, that wasn't happening, so I found it made it clearer and easier to play with a highland-style of finger motions. While I won't say I'm as proficient at uilleann piping as highland piping, I played whistles for years before any bagpipes, so again, I understand the style of fingerwork you're describing.

Once I sort out the MIDI stuff to make bends with my fingers, I may well post another video on how to program it to behave a bit more like a real uilleann pipe. That said, I don't think there's an easy way out of the pressure/octave thing...
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Old 07-14-2020, 04:46 AM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Thanks!

If I were programming "realistic" electronic uilleann pipe I would take pressure readings from the pipes of a half-dozen different good uilleann pipers (ones who started on the uilleann pipes, NOT ones who transferred to the uilleann pipes from the Highland pipes) and program my electronic uilleann pipe to an average of those half-dozen pipers' pressure profiles.

If, for example, you programmed an electronic uilleann pipe following my chanter/reed (which I've been playing since around 1980) you would end up with, approximately, from lowest pressure to highest pressure:

Pressure 1: Low E, Low F#

Pressure 2: Low G, A, B, C, Back D, High E, High F#

Pressure 3: Hard Bottom D, High G, High A, High B, High C


While not accurate in detail it at least sets up the beginner for an easier transition from the electronic pipes to the real pipes.

The critical point is going over the octave break at one even pressure, that range from Low G to High F# at one pressure. Having newbies learn to give a boost of pressure when they play Back D will be disastrous when they transition to actual uilleann pipes. What they'll get is the "sinking back D" and they'll have to re-learn how to blow the pipes.

In truth once you get past High G the pressure can vary from reed to reed, so I think it's OK to put Hard Bottom D, High G, and the rest of the 2nd octave notes at one pressure point.

Another critical point, which cannot be over-emphasised, is that the pressure changes are subtle. Highland pipers always overdo it.

Subtle, but essential to master.

Note I didn't put Soft Bottom D. Some pipers never play that note. Some view it as not worthy of being played. If you did want to include it, I would probably put it at Pressure 1, so you have Soft Bottom D, Low E, and Low F# at the same low pressure.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 07-14-2020 at 04:56 AM.
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:18 AM   #5
DannyBoy2k
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

To me, the beauty of the WARBL is that it's the practice chanter for the Uilleann pipe that I've always wanted. Will it teach me the fine bag control skills I'll need on the real thing? No, nor how to pump the bellows. But I can finally learn all the fingerings, embellishments, etc. without fighting everything else. Seems very analogous to the GHB practice chanter.

Also, the WARBL Uilleann sounds are soooo much better than the electronic GHB sounds I get from my Technopipes and all the other ones I've ever heard. Wish we could get an electronic GHB that sounds as good as these Uilleann sounds do.

Matt, just wanted to let you know your video got another WARBL purchase (me). Loving it!

~Dan
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:28 AM   #6
DannyBoy2k
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Link to Michael Eskin doing another WARBL Uilleann demo. Good stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp03QFmcSPE

~Dan
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Old 07-29-2020, 01:58 PM   #7
Andrew Mowry
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

I am the maker of WARBL-- thanks to Matt for this video! I don’t usually participate in these forums because I don’t want to be construed as using them for advertising/commercial gain. However, I do want to respond to the question about pressure:

WARBL does in fact use different pressures for the register/octave jump, and it's actually very similar to what you (pancelticpiper) have outlined, with the exception of the hard D (you can play that particular note harder without jumping to the next octave, it's just not required to squeeze hard to play that note). I modelled the software after the way that a tin whistle responds to pressure, and uilleann pipes behave similarly overall (with some exceptions).

Early on, I tried using a single pressure for changing octaves, like an on/off switch, and it quickly became apparent that that is a very unrealistic approach (as you suggested). In particular, it makes it difficult to play fluid passages that cross from the upper end of the first octave to the lower end of the second octave, because on real instruments those notes all fall in a similar pressure range. I now use a "state engine" approach, which took a few years to develop and has become the “heart” of WARBL in many ways. It works roughly as follows:

As you progress up the scale in the first octave, it becomes increasingly difficult (in a non-linear way) to jump to the second octave, in other words from the low E and F# it's very easy to move to the second octave, but for A and B, etc. it's gradually more difficult. This difference in pressure between low notes on the scale and higher ones is configurable in the setup software, as are several other aspects of the state engine, like initial "note on" pressure (which obviously needs to much lower when playing WARBL as a whistle and higher when using a bag).

This variable approach makes it much easier and more natural to control the register, especially in the range around the upper end of the first octave and the lower end of the second. For example, moving from the back D to a higher E and back is very controllable because the pressure range for those two notes is similar, in other words you won't accidentally play a low E because that requires a much lower pressure.

There’s also some hysteresis in the state engine, in other words the pressure threshold for moving to the higher register is slightly higher than the threshold for moving back down, which prevents oscillation around the octave cutoff and mimics the way that a real instrument likes to “stick” to the current register.

Finally, WARBL also monitors not only pressure, but the rate of change of pressure, so that starting with no note playing and then blowing hard and fast allows you to move immediately to the second register without playing a note in the first. Similarly, you can go directly from the second register to silence by rapidly decreasing the pressure. Real instruments do actually cross through both registers on the way up/down from silence, but it’s not very noticeable, and this approach again makes playing much more natural, and also is configurable.
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Old 07-30-2020, 03:50 PM   #8
piobdan
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Does anyone know of a good UP Android app similar to the ios one used by Matt (thanks for the Video ) and recommended by Andrew (thanks for your help)

??
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:01 AM   #9
Andrew Mowry
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

I don't know of any UP apps for Android (unfortunately), but the FluidSynth app can play SoundFont files, so you can load any number of sounds. If anyone is interested in supplying me with recordings of individual notes and drones, I could put them together in a SoundFont file. I haven't (yet) found any uilleann SoundFonts on the web.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:57 AM   #10
piobdan
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Default Re: The WARBL MIDI Controller - very realistic uilleann pipe sound and fingering!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Mowry View Post
(...) If anyone is interested in supplying me with recordings of individual notes and drones, I could put them together in a SoundFont file. (...)
Thanks ...in hope, Andrew ;)

I wonder if Michael Eskin would consider sharing his with you?
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