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Old 05-19-2006, 05:48 PM   #1
piobaire76
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Default Carved chanters

This question has been on my mind for quite a while. What is the purpose of carving / gouging / opening up pipe chanter holes to the size barely able to be covered by one's fingers?--which then results in their being taped down to their original size?
My theory (which has yet to be verified or proved which is what I'm after, I guess) is that a number of years ago (20 + or - ?) when the pitch of pipe bands started to move ever upward, pipe majors of bands owning beautiful, musical, powerful blackwood chanters were faced with maintaining pitch, and so the carving began. Bands that held on to chanters had more and more carving done as time went on. Can this be verified?
My theory #2 (see above) then has players with said bands, not knowing the reason for the carving just started carving as a matter of fact, regardless of date of manufacture, chanter maker, etc.
It would seem that there are certain musical properties of chanters that are changed by carving holes: besides pitch--tone, projection, stability, to name a few.
I'd appreciate any input on this before I get out my Dremel moto-tool (or worse, my router) and start from scratch ;-)
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Old 05-19-2006, 06:26 PM   #2
Andrew Lenz
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Default Re: Carved chanters

I'm sure you are looking for a more philosophical answer than a practical one, since you have been doing this for 25+ years.

I have a page on chanter carving which goes into it a bit:
www.bagpipejourney.com/articles/chanter_carving.shtml

Basically, a note is much more quick adjusted for pitch if it is carved out and taped down. To raise the pitch, just move the tape rather than sinking the reed and throwing off all the notes then taping them all down. Due to the higher pitch, bands must spend more time perfecting every note on the chanter than in the past—someone is welcome to argue otherwise, of course.

I believe it was Sinclair than had the first "band chanter" that was expected to be carved to h3|| . . . and back with tape.

Not all that philosophical, but that's what I'm offering at the moment.

Andrew
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Old 05-19-2006, 07:34 PM   #3
OKiepiper2
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Default Re: Carved chanters

Quote:
My theory ... when the pitch of pipe bands started to move ever upward, pipe majors of bands owning beautiful, musical, powerful blackwood chanters were faced with maintaining pitch, and so the carving began. Can this be verified?
Undoubtedly an astutely thought out theory seeming to have much relevance to the question as pondered. This can be verified but as with all theories will take both time and financial resources. My recommendation is to leave this as a theory (#1)

Quote:
My theory #2 (see above) then has players with said bands, not knowing the reason for the carving just started carving as a matter of fact , regardless of date of manufacture, chanter maker, etc.
Aha - the old "Monkey See, Monkey Do" theory. This one probably has much merit, but again will take much time and resources to verify. But since you passed on that question for this we can also leave it as a theory (#2).

Quote:
It would seem that there are certain musical properties of chanters that are changed by carving holes: besides pitch--tone, projection, stability, to name a few.
Oh - an auditory specialist? Perhaps an accoustics engineer? And with theories no less...

Quote:
I'd appreciate any input on this before I get out my Dremel moto-tool (or worse, my router)
There is only one way to test a theory........Let me know if you strike oil!

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Old 05-20-2006, 06:36 PM   #4
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Carved chanters

I once played in a band who used chanters heavily carved by tonemeister Ian Whitelaw. They not only were sharper, but also louder, clearer-toned, brighter, and more free-blowing than uncarved examples of the same make. The band simply sounded better with them. The low A hole was so large as to be difficult to cover with the pinkie. About carving then taping, I have heard the theory that the thin edge of tape is less restrictive than the thick edge of plastic.
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Old 05-20-2006, 07:02 PM   #5
AJF
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Default Re: Carved chanters

This old chestnut comes up all the time.

Carving chanters is a practice that goes back many more years than some realise.

In a nutshell....

The holes on a chanter are cut to a standard template. They do not (and cannot) factor in every reed that will go into that chanter, or all the conditions that the chanter/reed combination will be played in.

Carving and taping holes allows each note to be isolated and tuned as a harmonic to the drones.

Different notes change at different rates due to the conical bore of the chanter and how temperature in conducted through the chanter. For example, the thinner walls at the bottom mean that bottom hand notes change faster than top hand notes.

Read these two articles - written by Ross Bates. Ross was one of the 'sound guys' at Victoria Police.

http://home.iprimus.com.au/rabates/chanter.html

http://home.iprimus.com.au/rabates/bandtun.html
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