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Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > General Discussion > History, Tradition, Heritage
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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 06-29-2019, 12:24 PM   #1
bob864
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Default 78 rpm

I found an online repository of 78's that have been digitized. Using the search term bagpipe pulls up a few. The one here called Mallorca is somewhat interesting. The piper is PM Forsyth, who identifies himself as the King's piper.

He's tuned to 444 hz. And his drones are out of tune.

The one with Rakes of Mallow by PM Stark is at 455, and his drones are out of tune too.

There are some interesting recordings of fiddles too. If you search for Reels and Jigs it will pull them up. Interesting that there are a number of medleys that are made up of a number of reels first, followed by jigs.

https://archive.org/details/georgebl...nstrumental%22
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:40 PM   #2
el gaitero
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Interesting ...not up to today’s gr 5 standard.
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Old 06-30-2019, 04:38 PM   #3
DapperDan
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Did they not tune their drones back then? At all? The drones aren't even in tune with each other, never mind to the pitch of the chanter.

Plenty of pipers today play vintage pipes, cane reeds, and skin bags, and sound great, so it's not their instruments. Hard to understand.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:19 PM   #4
el gaitero
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Quote:
Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post
Did they not tune their drones back then? At all? The drones aren't even in tune with each other, never mind to the pitch of the chanter.

Plenty of pipers today play vintage pipes, cane reeds, and skin bags, and sound great, so it's not their instruments. Hard to understand.
No internet and Korg tuners back then ....whatever ‘good ear’ was available was “local’....but each locale had its own tonemeister. ..so when / if different locales met up it was more likely somewhat of a dog’s meal by today’s standards.
The only constant to some degree would have been military bands I’d think.
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Old 07-01-2019, 11:01 AM   #5
Texas Gael
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Quote:
Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post
Did they not tune their drones back then? At all? The drones aren't even in tune with each other, never mind to the pitch of the chanter.

Plenty of pipers today play vintage pipes, cane reeds, and skin bags, and sound great, so it's not their instruments. Hard to understand.
It's hard for younger pipers to understand, but tuning was a lot harder back in the days of cane reeds and hide bags. It was much more common when I began my piping journey in 1982 to hear wildly out-of-tune instruments. Synthetic drone reeds and moisture control systems started changing this and nowadays you are far less likely to hear such.

Cheers -

Wes
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:29 PM   #6
el gaitero
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Default Re: 78 rpm

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Old 07-02-2019, 08:58 AM   #7
bob864
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Quote:
Originally Posted by DapperDan View Post
Did they not tune their drones back then? At all? The drones aren't even in tune with each other, never mind to the pitch of the chanter.

Plenty of pipers today play vintage pipes, cane reeds, and skin bags, and sound great, so it's not their instruments. Hard to understand.
That's part of what I find really interesting. You'd assume that the King's Piper would at least be competent. My conclusion is that our definition of "competency" is at a higher level. I think recording technology has had a lot to do with advances in musicianship. When musicians started to be able to hear what they really sounded like it made them want to get better.

Either that, or it was a desired effect. There's a book from about 1900 that has a section where an Army PM describes tuning. He talks about matching the drones to the chanter, but at the end, if low-a and high-a aren't in agreement his advice is to split the difference.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: 78 rpm

I think there were a lot of things going on. I strongly suspect the 19th century British Army produced a lot of very unmusical pipers - the kind of pipers who play the bagpipe like an accordion, move your fingers like this and this note comes out - and this had the effect of lowering standards across the board. Piping judges generally were probably little better, so there was no real incentive for competitors to compete on standard of tuning - as long as they were close, they were good. All the innovation was in tunes and technique, which bad amateur playing judges could pick out.



Also, I think these recording sessions were probably not given a great deal of respect by early pipers. I doubt they distinguished between a recording session and a gig for any old so-and-so.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:08 AM   #9
bob864
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Originally Posted by CalumII View Post


Also, I think these recording sessions were probably not given a great deal of respect by early pipers. I doubt they distinguished between a recording session and a gig for any old so-and-so.
Fair enough, but would you play any random gig with your drones out of tune?
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Old 07-02-2019, 02:43 PM   #10
Michael Flemming
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Default Re: 78 rpm

Does anyone have any historical info on P/M's Forsyth and Starck? Were they real Pipe Majors or just calling themselves that?
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