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Old 02-17-2019, 10:29 AM   #1
Barry Shears
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Default C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Hello,
Everyone. I am ordering a new SSP chanter in A and I am undecided on which works better: C natural key or a C Natural hole drilled on the back of the chanter covered by the thumb ? I don't normally use C natural , except for a sliding note between B an C, so I am sure there are a variety of methods to to Play C natural, depending on the make of chanter.
Any advice one way or the other,
Thanks in advance,
Barry
capebretonpiper.com
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:05 AM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

I assume the top hand pinkie will be responsible for this key? I think I have a C chanter like this though I havenít played it, Iíll try it later.

Thumb holes will never need maintenance. Going to/from high A is tricky with a thumb hole, but C to a transitions arenít very common.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:05 AM   #3
Pppiper
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Shears View Post
Hello,
Everyone. I am ordering a new SSP chanter in A and I am undecided on which works better: C natural key or a C Natural hole drilled on the back of the chanter covered by the thumb ? I don't normally use C natural , except for a sliding note between B an C, so I am sure there are a variety of methods to to Play C natural, depending on the make of chanter.
Any advice one way or the other,
Thanks in advance,
Barry
capebretonpiper.com
Hi Barry,

I've had both, and I much prefer (and now routinely use) the back hole for c-natural.

Mostly, I feel the back-hole is far-superior, but of course this can be a matter of taste. Particularly in a "passing" note ... it's MUCH easier not to have to engage a key.

For me a key requires a lot of effort that feels unnatural and never really sounded right rhythmically. This might depend on the design of the key, though. Mine was a two-key (as in, two keys one can press down) chanter with could sound a high-b or c natural ... both keys were designed to be pressed by the unoccupied pinky of the top hand.

Great idea in theory, but in practice, I just never really could get that pinky to "work." I got so used to pretending it "wasn't there" over the years, to all-of-a-sudden have to actually use it for something felt like trying to write with my ear lobe or something. Had it for years, and I think I kind of gave up trying to use it after several months.

Conversely, the hole on the back took a bit of getting used to, but I found myself able to utilize it with relative ease within a matter of weeks. The real challenge for me was (and still, sometimes) is that I need to play "B" with my front fingers when the thumb is off on the back ... the note is out of tune if you do otherwise. And of course, the "C finger" in the front needs to stay down ... that's the hardest part.

Worth considering as well, whether to drill the c natural to be just-tuned to be a minor-third with the key of A, or to make it equal temperament .. will depend on your usage. Mine is done with the former (just tuned).

So upvotes across the board for back hole from me.

Anyway, that's my 2Ę.

Cheers,
~Nate

Last edited by Pppiper; 02-17-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:13 AM   #4
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Nate, my calculations show C (nat), using just intonation, comes in at 15 cents sharp of equal temperament. While Iím used to a justly tuned thumb hole, how much lower is your ET one? I felt the JI hole was an adjustment already, though not much of one.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:28 AM   #5
David D.
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Barry,

Something to consider is the placement of the thumb hole.

I play one of Michael MacHarg's The Wee Piper SSP chanter in A and his chanters have the back thumb hole for the C natural. I keep a piece of tape over it since my thumb falls about an inch from the hole so it feels very awkward to me. Granted, I haven't put the time and effort to retrain my hand.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:32 AM   #6
Pppiper
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
Nate, my calculations show C (nat), using just intonation, comes in at 15 cents sharp of equal temperament. While Iím used to a justly tuned thumb hole, how much lower is your ET one? I felt the JI hole was an adjustment already, though not much of one.
To be clear .. mine is Justly tuned, by default .. maybe I goofed when I responded earlier.

What you say makes sense .. if I'm goofing around with tunes in G or C ... I find I needed to shove some beeswax in the hole in order to get the note to sound right with the drones. Also experimented with lowering the B finger, but that was awkward.

Here're a few photos I snapped, in case that's helpful.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=14e...XBAJ0cDifm7YEK

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:40 AM   #7
Pppiper
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

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Originally Posted by David D. View Post
Barry,

Something to consider is the placement of the thumb hole.

I play one of Michael MacHarg's The Wee Piper SSP chanter in A and his chanters have the back thumb hole for the C natural. I keep a piece of tape over it since my thumb falls about an inch from the hole so it feels very awkward to me. Granted, I haven't put the time and effort to retrain my hand.
Does your chanter have tone holes (the two perpendicular holes for low-G)? Mr. MacHarg makes a version that does not, which is cool if one wants to be nifty, and block the end to play staccato. I wanted to get one from the maker's son, Iain ... but it seems that the different design somewhat-radically changes the positioning of the rest of the holes, and most of my bottom hand was completely out-of-whack. With a "normal" A chanter, all's right with my world.

Fortunately for me, I've always had a tendency to position my thumb right behind my C-sharp finger, and the hole for c-natural is juuuuusst slightly lower than that.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:48 AM   #8
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Nate, my bad, I read former but my brain understood latter.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:26 PM   #9
CalumII
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

As far as back hole placement goes, it certainly isn't great ergonomics, especially if you do not have a super relaxed hold. I suspect an angled hole could help a bit.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:36 PM   #10
David D.
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Default Re: C natural Key or Back hole on chanter which is better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pppiper View Post
Does your chanter have tone holes (the two perpendicular holes for low-G)?
Yes, mine has the low G tone holes and the lower hand finger stretch is just a little wider than a long practice chanter.
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