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Old 07-11-2018, 12:06 PM   #1
will103
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Default Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

Hello, anyone out there playing Scottish smallpipes with an alto drone rather than baritone? trying it out myself but keen to hear the thoughts of others?
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Old 07-11-2018, 12:16 PM   #2
Pppiper
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

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Originally Posted by will103 View Post
Hello, anyone out there playing Scottish smallpipes with an alto drone rather than baritone? trying it out myself but keen to hear the thoughts of others?
My pipes have both available when playing the A chanter. In general, I tend to favor the alto for E when playing tunes in A, and the baritone D for tunes in D.

The baritone E absolutely works fine, it's just a preference on my part ... also, it's easier for me with my 4-drone set to have one always set to D, and the other E ... this way when I switch tunes, I can just turn one on and the other off, with a minimum of tinkering.

I got used to the sound of alto with my borderpipes, which only features an alto drone. There are others here who I hope can chime in with actual music theory reasons to support (or argue against) why one might have such a preference. My music theory is extremely rusty, so I wouldn't want to try to elaborate, for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:27 PM   #3
Kevin
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

I alternate between bari and alto on my SSP depending on the tune and recently how well my bari reed is behaving My alto drone plays C or D and I recently I have been playing A-e-a-c' (an A-minor chord) or A-a-c' with A-minor tunes. It makes for an interesting sound that really emphasizes the minor key feel of the tune.

It takes a bit of getting used to but I like it.

Kevin
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Old 07-12-2018, 11:53 AM   #4
will103
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

Must admit that I didn't like the alto to begin with. Then I read somewhere on here a post about border drones, where it was said that the alto should be just heard (relatively quiet compared to the other drones). So I adjusted the reed and - great. Ta will
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:10 PM   #5
Kevin
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

I think it also sounds a bit different on SSP vs. BP because you don't have the same separation from the drones. The BP changer plays an octave higher than the tenor drone while the SSP chanter plays the same note as the tenor drone.

Hence, the baritone is ~half an octave below the SSP low A and ~ one and half octaves below the BP low A.

Similarly the alto drone is ~half an octave above the SSP low A and ~ half an octave below the BP low A.

Best regards,
Kevin
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:11 AM   #6
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

There's also the fact that the loudness relationship on the SSP chanter is the opposite of what it is on the BP chanter (the high notes are louder, due to the cylindrical chanter), so the relationship with the drones is different.

I have a four-drone set, and both my alto and baritone drones will play D or E. Which one I use depends on the particular tune and what I think sounds best for it. As a shortcut, I'll often tune the alto to E and the baritone to D at the beginning of a session, so that I'll have drones already tuned to either pitch for whenever I want one.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:19 PM   #7
Glenn Dreyer
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

The current issue of Common Stock has reprinted an article by John Dally that gets into harmonics and the sounds produced by the different drone configurations available on small pipes and border pipes. Very informative. Thanks John and to Pete Stewart for republishing it.
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Old 07-25-2018, 11:20 PM   #8
will103
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Default Re: Smallpipes - alto rather than baritone drone?

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Originally Posted by Glenn Dreyer View Post
The current issue of Common Stock has reprinted an article by John Dally that gets into harmonics and the sounds produced by the different drone configurations available on small pipes and border pipes. Very informative. Thanks John and to Pete Stewart for republishing it.
Thanks Glenn, have found the article. Very interesting reading. will
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