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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 09-04-2012, 11:14 PM   #1
KeiththeAussie
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Default Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

I recently bought a Fagerstrom technochanter which to my ear sounds perfectly in tune. Using a HB T2 tuning meter I recorded the pitch of the Fagerstrom and I got the following results.

High A and High G - not loud enough to get a reading
F - 468
E - 467
D - 464
C - 466
B - 464
Low A - 467
Low G - 463

I might add that the pitch did not waver at all (as one would expect on an electronic instrument) so there was no doubt that I was getting a true reading. What was surprising is the difference in pitch between the notes as the pitch of each note sounded very sweet indeed.

Assuming for a moment that this is the optimum pitch as it sounds so good, then it raises a few questions.

1. Should we be tuning our PC's (and pipe chanters?!) to a similar pitch, for each note?
2. Should we be getting the pitch of our pipe chanters back down to the 470's?

Any comments or thoughts on this one?
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:43 AM   #2
wvh46
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Interesting that you put a meter to it. I have one and now I know why
I like it! The pitch isn't that far off what my pipes play at.

1986 Dunbar P2s with low A at 466Hz and a set of Hendersons that
rumble along at low A=454Hz with the Henderson chanter or low A=465Hz
with a Hardie chanter.

But then that's the pitch range I "grew up" with. So my vote would be
"Yes, let's lower the pitch".

Of course you have to remember I'm also an old fa...uh..guy and with my
hearing anything north of 475 and I'm asking "did my high A play???"
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:54 AM   #3
bob864
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

You can change the pitch. The timbre does not change as the pitch changes. Unless one has perfect pitch or a reference tone one could not tell the difference between 466 and 475...
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:03 AM   #4
hoohoodragon
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

So let me try to explain this.

Any regular tuner uses a tuning system called "equal temperament." This means that the ratio between the frequencies any two notes one half-step apart is exactly the same. This tuning system is used in manufacturing of concert instruments, most notably in the tuning of the piano.

The purpose of this tuning system was to allow concert instruments to be able to play in any key in western music (A, Bb, B, C, D, Eb etc.). HOWEVER, this tuning system does not give you perfect consonance (being perfectly in tune) with the root (or base note) going up any particular scale.

There is a tuning system that does give you perfect consonance with the base note of a scale, and this system is called "just intonation." This system tunes all the notes in a chromatic scale (all half steps) to fraction multiples of the frequency of the base note. For example, the frequency of the fifth of the scale is 3/2 the frequency of the root note. If you know a bit about the harmonic series, you'll understand these carefully selected fractional multiples allow all the notes in the scale to line up with upper harmonics of the root, making them perfectly in tune.

This is the tuning system that bagpipes use because at any point in time, your chanter is harmonizing with your drones and need to be in perfect consonance with those drones. If your chanter is tuned with equal temperament, most of the notes will sound out of tune with the drones.

What you are experiencing is that your Fagerstrom chanter is actually tuned with "just intonation." This means that most of the notes on your chanter will correlate with different "reference pitches" (a number like A=467Hz) on your tuner because the tuner is using the "equal temperament" system.

What's puzzling me is that those reference pitches don't make sense from my experience. The F and C should be lower than the Low A and the B and E should be higher. What's puzzling me even more is that the HBT2 tuner is a bagpipe tuner, so it should be getting this right, no?

Hope I was clear in conveying my point! I know it can be a lot to take in.
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Last edited by hoohoodragon; 09-06-2012 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
DannyBoy2k
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoohoodragon View Post
...

What's puzzling me is that those reference pitches don't make sense from my experience. The F and C should be lower than the Low A and the B and E should be higher. What's puzzling me even more is that the HBT2 tuner is a bagpipe tuner, so it should be getting this right, no?

...
That's what's weird with this experiment. The HBT2 should show the same reference pitch for each note in the bagpipe/just intontation scale. The fact it's showing a different reference pitch for each note would indicate the Fagerstrom is not using just intonation, assuming there isn't something else going on here.

~Dan
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:49 PM   #6
KeiththeAussie
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Thanks for the interesting responses guys.

WVH - I am with you on the pitch. I learnt to play at school in the 60's so know where you are coming from regarding old ears and too high a pitch. I have an ABW Grainger chanter from that era which pitches at about 462, which is my personal preference. My band chanter (poly Warmac) pitches at 475ish. However, that is as expected and is only part of the issue here.

Hoohoo - your comprehensive response is probably a bit over my head, but I don't think you addressed the issue of the different pitches for each note, (I could be wrong) apart from your comment in your penultimate paragraph, where you allude to the fact that the HB T2 is a bagpipe specific tuning meter and should show an identical pitch for each note for a well tuned instrument. On the pipes, we all know that when you tune your chanter to your drones you should end up with the same pitch for each note, whatever that pitch may be, which is what Dannyboy points out in his post. The HB T2 tuning meter is specifically made for the bagpipe, and in my experience when I tune each of the notes on the pipe chanter to the drones the HB T2 shows that all notes are at the SAME pitch, unlike a Korg which is not bagpipe specific.

All this commentary is based on the assumption that the technochanter sounds good (which it does to my ear) and that we should be striving to emulate its pitch, which maybe we shouldn't. I am just thinking about tuning my practice chanter to this variable pitch (not the pipes) to see if my old PC sounds as good as the technochanter, or at least better than it does now. I might also try and get a reading on the High A and G by playing it through my stereo system to get a higher volume. I presume Fagerstrom has set up the chanter deliberately this way, and would be very curious to know the reasons why. (Did they use a non bagpipe specific tuning meter?) Murray Blair, being the sound expert he is, and manufacturer of the HB tuner might be able to shed some light on this if he ever gets to read this post. Wouldn't mind hearing Fagestroms comments either.

I'm still at a loss to explain this one guys!
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:19 PM   #7
teuchter46
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Default

Have you tried the different scale options? You can switch to "harmonic scale" or "bagpipe scale".
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:25 PM   #8
KeiththeAussie
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by teuchter46 View Post
Have you tried the different scale options? You can switch to "harmonic scale" or "bagpipe scale".
Will give it a try this weekend and get back on Monday.

Keith
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:27 PM   #9
Bill Urquhart
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob864 View Post
You can change the pitch. The timbre does not change as the pitch changes. Unless one has perfect pitch or a reference tone one could not tell the difference between 466 and 475...
I'm pretty sure I don't have perfect pitch, but I can tell the default pitch is flat. I usually sharpen it a bit (ballpark where my chanter plays) before I start playing.
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:10 AM   #10
bob864
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Default Re: Fagerstrom technochanter variable pitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Urquhart View Post
I'm pretty sure I don't have perfect pitch, but I can tell the default pitch is flat. I usually sharpen it a bit (ballpark where my chanter plays) before I start playing.
You probably have reference sounds in your environment. The hum of lights, appliances or whatever. When I get home I'll plug my techno chanter into my phone and do detailed measurements.
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