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Old 08-02-2020, 05:05 AM   #1
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Default Extra notes

Iíve noticed in some videos that some people are able to get extra notes out of their bagpipes, and am just wondering how they do that. Is it just a matter of squeezing the bag a little harder to make the note sound sharper?

In another thread here, someone also mentioned something about playing a high B, but I canít find anything about how that is accomplished.
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Old 08-02-2020, 12:01 PM   #2
Kelly the boy from...
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Default Re: Extra notes

Alastiar Lee, son of Terry Lee, demonstrated a 10 hole pipe chanter at Winter Storm a few years ago for a solo spot at during the big concert at the end. He explained it to us while we were all waiting in the airport lounge in KC. He bored 2 extra holes on the top of the chanter, 1 oppposite of the high A on the front, then blocking the old high A on the back, and 1 above where the high A was on the back to reach the high B. The high B ends up being very close to the bottom of the bowl at the very top of the chanter. He then shifted his top hand up to cover the holes. His thumb, on the back, covered the high B, then his index finger covered the high A on the front, and rest followed the rest of the way down. I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't been done long before, but it was the first time I had seen it. Also, one can create a lower note than low G if you can cover the lower 2 holes on the side of a chanter. Usually done by sitting down with the bell end between your legs and pushing your legs together to cover the holes when you need the note and all the rest of your fingers are, of course, covering the upper holes. That's the best I can explain what I've seen. I'm sure others will give you much more.

Last edited by Kelly the boy from...; 08-02-2020 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 08-02-2020, 10:25 PM   #3
Donald Ross
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Default Re: Extra notes

Also, and this is more common with bellows blown pipes, not highland pipes, there are other notes in the scale possible through cross-fingering and also keyed chanters are available which have keys along side the the hole your finger covers which are hinged like on a flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, or saxophone, that reach to cover holes you would not be able to reach with your finger.

All of these techniques and equipment on lowland pipes and uilleann and pastoral pipes have given those instruments some so-called "extra" notes. With highland pipes, there are some cross fingered notes possible as well and they are played occasionally and primarily in contemporary, not traditional/classic tunes. They are usually accomplished by covering additional holes below the note being played in a way that is not normal traditional "highland" fingering.

You can google lowland or border pipes for pictures and explanations of the cross fingerings and keyed chanters.

Last edited by Donald Ross; 08-02-2020 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 08-03-2020, 09:27 AM   #4
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Extra notes

It might have been some of my posts that mentioned High B and High G#. I playe those notes regularly as well as C Nat and F Natural when the tune requires it.

The High B is attained by "Pinching", a technique I learned from Border/Lowland piping. To pinch a High B, finger as for (low) B, but slightly open the High A hole. Depending on which chanter I'm playing, I either "roll" my thumb slightly to expose the edge of the hole, or stick the tip of my thumbnail athwart the hole while boosting pressure slightly. I have on occasion achieved a high C#, but not consitently enough to rely on that for performance.

High G# is fingered 0/xxo/xxx0 ( I've seen other fingerings as well).

I find it easier to achieve these notes with lighter reeds.

Here's a rough recording from three years go of a tune with High Bs: The Lark In The Clear Air
I lerned this tune after hearing Gordon Mooney play it.
Slainte Leibh/ Slan Leat, Bob Cameron

Last edited by Andrew Lenz; 08-07-2020 at 12:43 PM. Reason: Fixed URL syntax for better readability.
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Old 08-06-2020, 06:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Extra notes

It's been said that if we had one more note, we could double our repertoire...

Here's a guy who demonstrates the full chromatic scale on a pipe chanter, tho he doesn't go up to a high B, and can't play more than one low G without moving tape. You may have to look closely to see how exactly he fingers each note:

It may not work on some chanters.
I don't like how the chromatic notes sound with the drones, but that's me.

I'm going to try Waldo's High B method. If it works out, I'll finally be able to play Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon properly.

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Old 08-07-2020, 08:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Extra notes

Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post
It may not work on some chanters.

It won't work on *any* GHB chanter, at least none I've ever tried. Creating a chanter that does this involves quite a lot of work balancing hole size and position. Patrick's chanter is is in some ways more akin to a Border chanter than a GHB chanter.
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