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Old 12-29-2019, 04:21 PM   #1
Fyrfytr
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Default Tuning

Might be a silly question but Iím trying to understand tuning concept. So do I try and get my pipe chanter low A to 475 hz then try and get high A to tune to 475 hz as well? Or try and find what both high A and low A will agree with equally? Thank you in advance
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Old 12-29-2019, 04:56 PM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Tuning

The reed/chanter combo determines the pitch at which low and high A are an octave apart. So, the second one, where the chanter picks the pitch, not you.

High A will move more than low A as you move the reed up and down. So high A is chasing low A, thankfully low A is a slow moving target.
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Old 12-30-2019, 05:07 AM   #3
Mac an t-Sealgair
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Default Re: Tuning

Exactly as Patrick says.

Try to forget about the numbers, folk get to fixated on this. Just get the LA and HA balanced an octave apart.
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Old 12-30-2019, 07:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrfytr View Post
Might be a silly question but Iím trying to understand tuning concept. So do I try and get my pipe chanter low A to 475 hz then try and get high A to tune to 475 hz as well? Or try and find what both high A and low A will agree with equally? Thank you in advance
Right ... don't worry about the number. As you said at the end of your question, find whatever agrees with both high and low A equally, and that includes leaving the number in the air.

The tuning number only matters in a pipe band ... in which case, the band should have folks who coordinate adjusting everyone's chanters to be matched up. And the pipe band's target pitch will vary from day to day, and even from hour to hour, in some scenarios.

Cheers,
~Nate
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Old 12-30-2019, 08:10 AM   #5
el gaitero
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Default Re: Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrfytr View Post
Might be a silly question but Iím trying to understand tuning concept. So do I try and get my pipe chanter low A to 475 hz then try and get high A to tune to 475 hz as well? Or try and find what both high A and low A will agree with equally? Thank you in advance

Assuming it's a current day make it's good to know the maker's design spec of the chanter you are setting up. No sense trying to chase 475 if the chanter design is mid or higher 480's.
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:06 AM   #6
Dan Bell
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Default Re: Tuning

The ratio of the frequencies of two notes that are an octave apart is 2:1. So, if your low-A is (for the sake of simple math) at 440hz, your hi-A would be at 880hz.

As others of have said, how you set up your chanter really depends on what your goals are. If you're trying to play with other musicians, getting close to 440 or 466 is quite important. In a pipe band, you need to be at whatever the band's pitch is (generally north of 480 nowadays...).

If you're setting up a chanter for your own enjoyment, solo performance or solo competition, the absolute pitch isn't all that important, as long as the chanter is well-balanced and sounds good to you and your audience. Most chanter/reed combinations have a pitch range in which they "naturally" settle (in which it won't be a big struggle to get the chanter balanced and stable). For most of what's on the market now, that range is roughly mid-470s to mid-480s. If you venture too far out of that range, you're likely to find that you need tons of tape or hole-carving to get the note intervals right, and you may have stability problems on some notes even with good blowing.

The meter can help you get the note intervals in tune, but I also suggest you work on training your ear. Once you have the low-A in tune with the drones, you can tune the rest of the note intervals by listening to each note against the drones. Some notes (the dissonant ones) are harder to hear than others, but it's absolutely worth it to get proficient at doing this. Ultimately, you should only need the meter to tell you where your low-A is (and not even that if your drones are going right).
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: Tuning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Bell View Post
The ratio of the frequencies of two notes that are an octave apart is 2:1. So, if your low-A is (for the sake of simple math) at 440hz, your hi-A would be at 880hz.

As others of have said, how you set up your chanter really depends on what your goals are. If you're trying to play with other musicians, getting close to 440 or 466 is quite important. In a pipe band, you need to be at whatever the band's pitch is (generally north of 480 nowadays...).

If you're setting up a chanter for your own enjoyment, solo performance or solo competition, the absolute pitch isn't all that important, as long as the chanter is well-balanced and sounds good to you and your audience. Most chanter/reed combinations have a pitch range in which they "naturally" settle (in which it won't be a big struggle to get the chanter balanced and stable). For most of what's on the market now, that range is roughly mid-470s to mid-480s. If you venture too far out of that range, you're likely to find that you need tons of tape or hole-carving to get the note intervals right, and you may have stability problems on some notes even with good blowing.

The meter can help you get the note intervals in tune, but I also suggest you work on training your ear. Once you have the low-A in tune with the drones, you can tune the rest of the note intervals by listening to each note against the drones. Some notes (the dissonant ones) are harder to hear than others, but it's absolutely worth it to get proficient at doing this. Ultimately, you should only need the meter to tell you where your low-A is (and not even that if your drones are going right).
A+. Well said, as always.
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Old 12-30-2019, 07:16 PM   #8
Fyrfytr
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Default Re: Tuning

Thanks a million to all your advice! Makes a whole lotta sense
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Tuning

Matching High A to Low A is the rough guide, but it's often more complicated than that, and I think it's wise to follow the Majority Rules plan in tuning a chanter.

Specific individual notes might be outliers. What if the main outlier is High A?

Let's say your chanter looks like this against a bagpipe-specific tuner:

High A 0
High G -20
F -17
E -14
D -11
C -8
B -5
Low A 0

any piper is going to sink the reed until the whole scale (except for High A) comes into tune, your High A sharp, on which hole you put some tape and Bob's Your Uncle.

If you're having trouble figuring all this out a great aid is the Braw Tuner app for your phone. You just play tunes and it creates a chart, a very accurate chart, of the pitch of each individual chanter note.

I think it would be great for training your ear to recognize what "sharp" and "flat" sound like.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 01-02-2020 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:18 PM   #10
William McKenzie
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Default Re: Tuning

Lots of good advice above (as usual).

Quote:
Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post
Matching High A to Low A is the rough guide, but it's often more complicated than that, and I think it's wise to follow the Majority Rules plan in tuning a chanter.

Specific individual notes might be outliers. What if the main outlier is High A?

Let's say your chanter looks like this against a bagpipe-specific tuner:

High A 0
High G -20
F -17
E -14
D -11
C -8
B -5
Low A 0

any piper is going to sink the reed until the whole scale (except for High A) comes into tune, your High A sharp, on which hole you put some tape and Bob's Your Uncle.

If you're having trouble figuring all this out a great aid is the Braw Tuner app for your phone. You just play tunes and it creates a chart, a very accurate chart, of the pitch of each individual chanter note.

I think it would be great for training your ear to recognize what "sharp" and "flat" sound like.
Also well said.
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