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Old 08-16-2016, 04:53 AM   #21
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

For me the jury is out until people who are experienced uilleann pipers, who have been brought up playing the uilleann pipes (rather than Highland pipers who are newbies to the uilleann pipes) have their say.

I've yet to play an uilleann chanter by a Highland pipemaker that plays the way uilleann chanters are supposed to play.

So it's copied from a Dave Williams set. Fine. But how good is the copy? Did they leave it alone or did they try to "improve" it?

And who did Dave Williams copy, when he started into uilleann pipemaking? And did he leave that design how he found it, or did he try to "improve" it?

All modern Concert-pitch makers have a lineage of who they copied that, in most cases, goes back to Leo Rowsome, or in at least one case Crowley, or a couple other old makers. Remember that there was a period when uilleann pipemaking nearly died out, when you could count the makers on one hand and have fingers left over. In DNA stuff it's called a Bottleneck.

That's just the beginning of the issue, because then there's reeds. If a maker copies a particular vintage classic chanter, but happens to have learned his reedmaking from somebody who makes a style of reed which was originally developed for a different style of chanter, you have problems. In uilleann piping the interrelationship between reed and chanter is far more demanding and complex than with most bagpipes.

So who makes the McCallum reeds? What style of reed is it? What's the reedmaking lineage? The best chanter in the world won't play right if it doesn't have exactly the right reed.

As a friend who has, what, probably nearly a half-century experience with uilleann pipes and uilleann reedmaking told me "most stuff being made today is several iterations removed from anything that worked right."

So what's "working right"?

A list of basics off the top of my head:

1) every note from Bottom D up to High A right in tune in both octaves using normal fingering
2) High B not having too much of a pitch differential with Low B
3) C natural bang-on with one of the ordinary fingerings
4) C sharp not too flat
5) Hard Bottom D and Soft Bottom D both being easy to produce, stable, and in tune
6) Back D being stable, being able to withstand the pressure of the 2nd octave notes without "sinking"
7) a minimal pitch differential between Low E and High E
8) High B not requiring too much pressure, and being stable and reliable
9) the tone overall being pleasing, not too loud or bright
10) a good volume balance between the loudest notes and the softest notes
11) being able to easily hit High D without a High D key
12) Ghost D being in tune in both octaves

If somebody doesn't know what all this stuff is they don't have a basis for evaluating an uilleann chanter.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 08-16-2016 at 05:04 AM.
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Old 08-16-2016, 11:06 AM   #22
Frank W
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

I was told Jimmy Cartner made the reed that I am currently playing in mine but I understand he is now using Martin Banda Gallen to make his reeds.

I posted a link a few posts back of Fred playing my chanter. Again quality of the video is suspect since it was done with my iPhone but at least it should give a pretty fair representation of what the chanter can do.
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Old 08-16-2016, 11:30 AM   #23
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

I can hear the new chanter. I can hear a practice set. I can even hear the set that the new pipes were modeled after. I can't see or hear a new half set of these new Morrison uilleann pipes. Not a very well orchestrated world debut! Where are the new pipes?
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Last edited by longwind; 08-16-2016 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 08-26-2016, 04:55 AM   #24
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank W View Post
it should give a pretty fair representation of what the chanter can do.
One would have to know how well the chanter did all of the standard minimum expectations I listed above. These things can only be told by playing the chanter. Hearing somebody else playing the chanter doesn't tell one much.

Since you do have the chanter, how does it perform on all the things I listed?

BTW it's well known that a great player can make a mediocre instrument sound much better than it is.

There used to be a guy who sold flutes. both new and vintage. He had a fantastic embouchure and he could make pretty much any flute, even poor ones, sound good. Many a beginner ended up buying a bad flute that way.

I'll bet if you gave Gordon Walker a shite set of Pakistani pipes and enough time to work on them he could make a YouTube video which made those pipes sound fine.

I'm not saying that the case of Morrison playing your chanter is a case like that, only that hearing Morrison playing your chanter doesn't give much information as to the nature of your chanter.
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Old 08-26-2016, 07:55 AM   #25
Ian Lawther
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
BTW it's well known that a great player can make a mediocre instrument sound much better than it is.
At one of the Shepherdstown WV piping weekends (held in January) I was walking to classes with the uilleann pipe teacher, a professional and member of a band that has toured throughout the world. Having commented on the frigid air temperature, I said that given his globe trotting he must have become good at adjusting his instrument to a wide variety of climates. "No," he replied, "I'm just very good at playing them when they are going shite".

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Old 08-27-2016, 07:31 AM   #26
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Lawther View Post
I said that given his globe trotting he must have become good at adjusting his instrument to a wide variety of climates. "No," he replied, "I'm just very good at playing them when they are going shite".
That's funny! But true.

I heard Paddy Moloney's pipes "going shite" when The Chieftains played once in Los Angeles. Recently when they were here I spoke with Paddy about that, and he said it was a constant issue for him. I'm guessing it's one of the reasons he only plays the chanter. I've found that you can usually get the chanter to work even though the air is too dry to have the drones and regs work right.

When I toured (across the Southern US in winter, and in Japan) I only played the chanter too.
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Old 08-28-2016, 06:13 AM   #27
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

These new pipes were officially announced by Kenny Macleod on August 2. Fred was supposed to perform with them on Piping Live. I have been looking for the video but cannot find it. There is also no mention of Uilleann pipes on the McCallum website.

Can anyone point me to more info and the video?

Thanks,

Karl
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Old 08-28-2016, 04:35 PM   #28
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

There's Greenwich Mean Time, there's British Summer Time, and then there's Pipemaker Time.
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Old 09-03-2016, 08:46 PM   #29
Frank W
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
One would have to know how well the chanter did all of the standard minimum expectations I listed above. These things can only be told by playing the chanter. Hearing somebody else playing the chanter doesn't tell one much.

Since you do have the chanter, how does it perform on all the things I listed?

BTW it's well known that a great player can make a mediocre instrument sound much better than it is.

There used to be a guy who sold flutes. both new and vintage. He had a fantastic embouchure and he could make pretty much any flute, even poor ones, sound good. Many a beginner ended up buying a bad flute that way.

I'll bet if you gave Gordon Walker a shite set of Pakistani pipes and enough time to work on them he could make a YouTube video which made those pipes sound fine.

I'm not saying that the case of Morrison playing your chanter is a case like that, only that hearing Morrison playing your chanter doesn't give much information as to the nature of your chanter.
Richard, to my untrained ear (3 yrs. new) it sounds dam good to me compared to others I've heard. The only negative I heard was from Ted Anderson who thought it was a little to bright for his liking. He said it probably be fine if it was in ebony instead of ABW. When I first started taking lessons my tutor said the back D was just slightly sharp and added some tape. The rest was in tune through the scale in both octaves. After about a couple of months the reed settled in and the back D is fine. He was impressed with the chanter and has played a number of times.

Again take it for whats its worth...C nat sounds great with ordinary fingering, C sharp does not seem flat, easy to get a good hard D and soft D, stable and in tune, back D is spot on and seems to take pressure fine (don't know what you mean by sinking), low E and high E sound good to me, high B easy to obtain with minimal pressure and in tune, as for tone I mentioned Ted stated it was a little to bright for his ear, volume balance seems fine to me, haven't played anything requiring high D or ghost D.

Now I'm sure if you played the chanter you will most likely have a different opinion as well as maybe most experienced UP pipers but for me it sounds great.

The video I posted was taken in early October. Lake Tahoe is at 6200' and it was hot and dry. Yes Fred could make pretty much any pipe chanter sound good.

I think everyone needs to put this in perspective...I was told these pipes are supposed to be moderately priced with a fairly quick turn around. I heard they will be available as a practice set and 1/2 set after the first of the year. full set should be later next year.

Richard if you want to play my chanter or better yet a new Fred Morrison 1/2 set, take a hop up to Tahoe the first week of October for Pipes and Whistles on Lake Tahoe. Fred is supposed to be delivering one of the first 1/2 sets to one of our members that week. PM me if you want more info.

BTW, I haven't played this chanter ever since I got my Hubbert 1/2 set about 4 months ago. I'll have to pull it out and see if still remembers me.
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Old 09-03-2016, 08:52 PM   #30
Frank W
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Default Re: Fred Morrison Uilleann Pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by North Idaho Piper View Post
These new pipes were officially announced by Kenny Macleod on August 2. Fred was supposed to perform with them on Piping Live. I have been looking for the video but cannot find it. There is also no mention of Uilleann pipes on the McCallum website.

Can anyone point me to more info and the video?

Thanks,

Karl
I was wondering the same thing and asked McCallum by posting the question on their FB page. Their response is below.

"McCallum Bagpipes Ltd we will be getting videos and pictures uploaded soon frank"
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