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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Other (not GH) Bagpipes > Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes +
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Uilleann, Northumbrian, Smallpipes + For all types of (non GH) Bagpiping discussions.

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Old 06-02-2020, 06:42 PM   #1
WBpiper
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Default Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

I know of Smallpipes in C, but have there ever been smallpipes in other pitches? For example, keyed in a pitch like F or G?




Thanks.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:16 AM   #2
CalumII
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Yes, it's perfectly possible. Most keys aren't common for two reasons - A and D are most musically useful for trad musicians, followed closely by C, and secondly, the comfortable range in terms of fingering is about A to D. I could handle a G chanter, I'd think, but I doubt I could stretch much further. And D is already getting the fingers pretty close together.



Northumbrian pipes, which have the same internal design, do go much lower with the use of keys, and there have been low-pitched Northumbrian sets in nominal D that would I presume go down to a low low G.
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:39 AM   #3
Steve Bliven
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Early on in the SSP development, it was unclear what key was going to predominate. Hamish Moore used to make a set that had chanters in A, Bb, C, and D with tuning beads on the drones to match. After a few years, things seemed to settle on A as the primary key with D as the secondary. However, C is, to my ears, perhaps the sweetest of the chanter keys.



I had one of the four chanter sets from Hamish as well as a C set from Michael Mac Harg. Brighde Chaimbeul presently plays a C set from Fin Moore.


Best wishes.


Steve
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

I have Banton SSP chanters in A, C and D. C definitely has the most pleasing sound to me, but I typically play the A chanter because it works most seamlessly with the other musicians I play with.

Bb used to be available from a number of makers. I never really understood why people would want it other than for playing with others on practice chanters. There are also a few of us that have modified the tuning of A chanters to play in G.

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Old 06-03-2020, 01:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Interesting. Thanks for the answers.



I always wondered if it'd be possible to make smallpipes Higher than D, perhaps E flat, E, or F, I like those pitches.

But yes it seems the problem will be that the finger holes would be too close together.
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Old 06-03-2020, 01:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

You could probably get the pitch a little higher than D without much more finger squeeze, by narrowing the bore, but that would likely negatively affect the volume and timbre.

Kevin

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Old 06-03-2020, 04:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

I saw a tiny set in an Edinburgh museum which were called the Montgomery pipes, a plaque on them indicated they were donated by Colonel Montgomery, presumably to one of his pipers who served with him in North America during what was known as the French & Indian Wars. Vintage 1757...
This is all by memory...
I have smallpipes in A, C and D.....and can barely play my D pipes since the holes are so close together....I have large hands.
The set in the museum was smaller than my D set, presumably E ?
Gorgeous instrument, doubt I could play it....
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:35 PM   #8
CalumII
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Yes, the Montgomery pipes are E-ish. I've had a go on a reproduction, and it's manageable, but you can't really play in a standard GHB style if that's an issue.


(BTW, narrowing the bore flattens - think of the air as a spring - if you make the tube thinner it is less stiff and so vibrates slower).
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
Yes, the Montgomery pipes are E-ish. I've had a go on a reproduction, and it's manageable, but you can't really play in a standard GHB style if that's an issue.


(BTW, narrowing the bore flattens - think of the air as a spring - if you make the tube thinner it is less stiff and so vibrates slower).
Oops. You are right Calum. The bore would have to be increased to raise the pitch.

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Old 06-04-2020, 06:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Smallpipes in other pitches besides A or D?

Isn't the standard smallpipe pitch F?

They write the music in G, but it sounds in F.

When the NSP makers started making smallpipes geared to the Highland piper market they had to stretch the traditional F chanter down a third to D, which some of the makers were already doing. I used to have an NSP by Colin Ross in D.

Then they stretched it even further, down a sixth, to A.

But I think that the original home key of the bore and reed configuration is F.
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