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Technique & Instrument Related to techniques, to the instrument, to the components, to maintenance.

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Old 02-02-2019, 02:35 PM   #11
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

What's revolutionized our band's tuning process is the Pipe Major getting the Braw Tuner app.

He pulls the pipers out of the circle one at a time, takes them in a side room, and just has them play. The app creates a map of the average pitch of the 9 chanter notes, so the PM knows exactly which tape needs to be moved and how much. (Or if the chanter overall is too flat or sharp.)

When everyone circles up they're in tune.

Any of the pipers who have the app can tune themselves in another room to the pitch the band is set at that day, and will match the rest of the pipers exactly.

It removes all the time-wasting things like guesswork and chasing the pitch of various notes.

Of course well set up pipes and good blowing are essential.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:20 AM   #12
DapperDan
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Best of luck with this worthy endevour Freeman.

In addition to the above tips, just real quick these are some other things my band does that put out a really good sound (and this is for playing at competitions; other events are less pressure) :

-Matched chanters - the band buys one type of chanter, and everyone is issued one, it belongs to the band. Everyone has the same type of reed, from the same batch if possible, adjusted to their strength. Tape on every hole, every chanter set by the same person. Pipers encouraged to use a solo chanter for any piping outside of band.

-We get tuned at the practice nearest a contest, usually a few days before, so that everyone will be close on the actual day and they can concentrate on making fine adjustments for the conditions.

-Before competition/parade season even begins, we are strongly encouraged to attend practices where we have to show that our instrument is airtight, and our reeds are calibrated. People who need help are helped out - it's not a gotcha game, it's with the understanding that having a comfortable instrument is good for you AND the band!!

-We have a routine of warming up, resting, tuning, playing a bit, re-tuning, doing some attack drills, and then checking each pipers chanter, and so on, and some routines are describe above already. The person/people in charge of tuning have an idea of how long this routine should be, so that we are stable when we hit the circle. They don't over do it or wear us out - the rests between playing are important.

-We march up to the circle playing a tune, usually once thru. This prevents us from going flat in the time it takes to walk from the tuning area to the circle.

It has been interesting to observe all this, and has helped me to understand my instrument and be better in tune when I'm on my own.

Another good tuning app is Bee Flat tuner, which is specifically for pipes. Very user friendly and easy to read.
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Old 02-08-2019, 05:28 AM   #13
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post

We get tuned at the practice nearest a contest...
This jumped out to my eye.

In all the bands I've been in over the years tuning has been a continuous and ever-present component of every practice.

The practice nearest the contest isn't different from any other practice throughout the year.

I think good blowing is the main thing that leads to good band tuning, and good blowing is a habit that has to be continuously worked on.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:00 AM   #14
Pppiper
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post
We get tuned at the practice nearest a contest, usually a few days before, so that everyone will be close on the actual day and they can concentrate on making fine adjustments for the conditions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
The practice nearest the contest isn't different from any other practice throughout the year ... I think good blowing is the main thing that leads to good band tuning, and good blowing is a habit that has to be continuously worked on.
I've found both statements to be true, and applicable, in their own way.

Tuning is certainly an ever-present task, so I agree it should be part of every practice/outing. But I also feel that it's fair to concede that the practice immediately before an outing could/should have more intensive attention toward fine tuning, in that doing so qualifies as being part of adequate preparation.

Reasonably speaking, in order to get around to working on actual playing of the music, marching drills, starts/stops, etc ... I think it's fair to say that in a not-so-perfect world, some corners in one area may need to be cut/tabled from time-to-time in order to ensure all aspects of group playing receive attention. Suffice it to say, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day/practice. Accordingly, I feel that the strongest attention toward precise tuning/adjustment is best to be exercised for the practice(s) leading up to an appearance.

Of course the better the corps as a whole does in taking care of their instruments, controlling their blowing, and keeping up with their own personal practice time ... well, such is likely to be far less of an issue. Then there might not be the need for heavier scrutiny during those pre-outing sessions.

Cheers,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 02-08-2019 at 06:03 AM.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:27 AM   #15
Texas Gael
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
This jumped out to my eye.

In all the bands I've been in over the years tuning has been a continuous and ever-present component of every practice.

The practice nearest the contest isn't different from any other practice throughout the year.

I think good blowing is the main thing that leads to good band tuning, and good blowing is a habit that has to be continuously worked on.
Your last comment hit home with me. I've had competition band experience with a couple of Grade IV bands and a Grade III band, and am currently playing with a new Grade IV band hoping to get some drummers so we can compete. I am always amazed, and saddened, at the pipers who continually show up at practice with a poorly maintained, poorly set up bagpipe. Tuning should not take very long, your bagpipe should be generally in, though may need a slight tweaking if a bit flat or sharp.

Cheers -

Wes
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Old 02-08-2019, 09:58 AM   #16
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Gael View Post
I am always amazed, and saddened, at the pipers who continually show up at practice with a poorly maintained, poorly set up bagpipe. Tuning should not take very long, your bagpipe should be generally in, though may need a slight tweaking if a bit flat or sharp.
I'm sure this is the bane of every PM's existence...

I'm sure every PM has a different approach to tuning, which is why I've been hesitant to weigh in here. I think it's important to try to achieve a good sound at every practice. Ear training is important. Of course, in the real world, there's only so much time in each rehearsal, and getting musical work in is important, too.

I deal with it by trying NOT to have really intensive musical work to do in the last practice before a contest (that should be done in the weeks leading up to it). I am happy to spend more time at that last rehearsal getting the chanters as dialed in as I can. One must still be aware that conditions on the day are likely to be different.

Any tuning strategy relies on the competence of the people executing it, that it be well-suited to the setup and blowers that you have, and the conditions on the day. There will always be judgement calls involved. If there was one good solution, everyone would be using it...
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:03 AM   #17
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Additionally, I WILL send a player out of the circle to fix issues if their instrument isn't going at an acceptable level. No sound person/PM/whatever can spend tons of time on one bagpipe while everyone else stands around.

This is obviously easier in the higher grades, where players have a better understanding of what's expected of them, and more ability to achieve it consistently. That said, at any level, there needs to be an expectation that players turn up with workable instruments. They should seek help outside of band time if they need it.

On the day of a contest, players whose pipes aren't going need to be cut. There just isn't time to address serious instrument problems during a band warm-up.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:23 PM   #18
3D Piper
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

I made two 5 person water manometers. Routinely, we all hook up and play the whole practice while watching them. You can quickly identify any issues. It sure helps tuning when everyone can blow steady!

-Matthew
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Old 02-08-2019, 05:08 PM   #19
DapperDan
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
This jumped out to my eye.

In all the bands I've been in over the years tuning has been a continuous and ever-present component of every practice.

The practice nearest the contest isn't different from any other practice throughout the year.

I think good blowing is the main thing that leads to good band tuning, and good blowing is a habit that has to be continuously worked on.
To clarify - we get tuned any time we play, and it is as you say a continuous component. At the practice (rehearsal is maybe the better term) before a contest though, more time and diligence are spent specifically on tuning, everyone is carefully checked individually to make sure nothing has drifted out of whack (which can happen).
I just thought this might be helpful to the OP - it sounded like he was tasked with tuning a band that wasn't used to being tuned at all!
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:45 AM   #20
RJB
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Default Re: Help Improving Band Tuning

So, being somewhat of a technological neanderthal, I've not found an easy way, using the Braw tuner, to type, punch, or lock in a certain pitch (let's say from a well-tuned player's chanter), then go around tuning everyone else's drones using that pitch. What am I missing here, besides a brain I mean.
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