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

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Old 09-20-2019, 02:16 PM   #1
piper Q
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Default Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Being on the Swamp Coast of Mississippi, I often have a difficult time with getting the African black wood chanter to play Near the 470 to 474 hertz range that I played in a more northern climate. Finding that it often climbs to a 480 to 483 hertz range.

Last summer I had opportunity to be at the higher elevation of Helen Georgia, with both lower temperature and humidity and practice a little alongside the river in the evening without difficulties. So I'm fairly certain the local climate is the culprit for the dilemma.

Additionally the Polypenco or (Delrin if you prefer) Pipes don't seem to be as heavily affected by the extremes. That much stated, Maybe the reed makers here can make some suggestions on what I might try to keep the tonal quality from rising to astronomical heights with the black wood chanter. Playing solo, the pitch rise isn't a problem. However with several pipers it does become a bit of a issue.


Any advice or suggestions, I welcome, even if the ultimate answer is just go with the rising seasonal pitch.


Thanks all.
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:59 PM   #2
piper_hm
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping.

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Originally Posted by piper Q View Post
Being on the Swamp Coast of Mississippi, I often have a difficult time with getting the African black wood chanter to play Near the 470 to 474 hertz range that I played in a more northern climate. Finding that it often climbs to a 480 to 483 hertz range.

Last summer I had opportunity to be at the higher elevation of Helen Georgia, with both lower temperature and humidity and practice a little alongside the river in the evening without difficulties. So I'm fairly certain the local climate is the culprit for the dilemma.

Additionally the Polypenco or (Delrin if you prefer) Pipes don't seem to be as heavily affected by the extremes. That much stated, Maybe the reed makers here can make some suggestions on what I might try to keep the tonal quality from rising to astronomical heights with the black wood chanter. Playing solo, the pitch rise isn't a problem. However with several pipers it does become a bit of a issue.


Any advice or suggestions, I welcome, even if the ultimate answer is just go with the rising seasonal pitch.


Thanks all.
What chanter are you playing? There are usually some options based on reed/chanter compatibility that 'should' give you a lower pitch. For example, G1 Platinum reeds pitch a bit higher than Shepherds in my Blackwood Naill. It usually involves some experimenting with individual reeds of different reed makes in your chanter.

Last edited by piper_hm; 09-20-2019 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:12 PM   #3
Harley G
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

With the GHB you need to ask, where is the air coming from? Answer, your lungs at a RH of about 100% if the medical books are correct. Does not matter where in the world you play, your lungs pretty much do the same thing.


Temperature on the other hand is a separate kettle of fish. The 101 of orchestral setup tells us that for every deg, (Celsius) the pitch changes by 3 cents.



With GHB the RH is a bit of a ferfie however, with our Uilleann pipes that use atmospheric air through the bellows, the RH has a significant impact to the point that we have reeds designed for different climatic conditions.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:30 PM   #4
Green Piper
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

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Originally Posted by Harley G View Post
With the GHB you need to ask, where is the air coming from? Answer, your lungs at a RH of about 100% if the medical books are correct. Does not matter where in the world you play, your lungs pretty much do the same thing.


Temperature on the other hand is a separate kettle of fish. The 101 of orchestral setup tells us that for every deg, (Celsius) the pitch changes by 3 cents.



With GHB the RH is a bit of a ferfie however, with our Uilleann pipes that use atmospheric air through the bellows, the RH has a significant impact to the point that we have reeds designed for different climatic conditions.


Not true!

While the RH of the air from our lungs is high (not 100%, or we’d look like we were vaping all the time), where in the World we play does matter. If you play in a dry climate, you’re going to risk drying the chanter reed too quickly, thus altering tone. When playing in more humid conditions, the chanter reed can become too wet. This is in spite of the RH of exhaled breath being fairly consistent.

For example, in Colorado, I use no MC, no seasoning, just a spit tube. When I play somewhere more humid, I need to add seasoning and a spit-trap. The RH of my breath does not change much.

As you said though, temperature can have a big effect not only via changes in pitch, but also due to effects on humidity - as temperature drops, RH increases. We assume that the air temp in a pipe bag soon adjusts to become close to body temp, but I am sure that is not totally correct. Also likely, is that drone reeds are likely to be cooler than body temp, thus can form condensation when conditions are cooler and humidity is higher.

Chanter reeds tend to be negatively affected by low humidity, conversely to synthetic drone reeds. If conditions are really dry, I have even added a few mls of water to my pipe bag via the chanter stock and swirled it around the chanter stock area to maintain a little bit more humidity in the vicinity of the chanter reed.

Charlie
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
Harley G
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Sorry for reading the medical journal to determine the RH of expelled breath. This must have been a misprint so I will be sure to email them asking for a correction.


Where they state "During exhalation this cooling effect causes a portion of moisture in the air coming from the lungs (100% relative humidity at 37degC)..." they have screwed up. With this screw up in mind, if your breath RH does not remain constant regardless of where you live geographically, then you are a sick little puppy.


I will report back on what the Health Advisory Panel do to correct their typo.



The reason we do not look like we are vaping is because of due point. On a frosty morning we do in fact look like we are vaping.



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Old 09-21-2019, 04:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harley G View Post
Sorry for reading the medical journal to determine the RH of expelled breath. This must have been a misprint so I will be sure to email them asking for a correction.


Where they state "During exhalation this cooling effect causes a portion of moisture in the air coming from the lungs (100% relative humidity at 37degC)..." they have screwed up. With this screw up in mind, if your breath RH does not remain constant regardless of where you live geographically, then you are a sick little puppy.


I will report back on what the Health Advisory Panel do to correct their typo.



The reason we do not look like we are vaping is because of due point. On a frosty morning we do in fact look like we are vaping.



Stop being so offended. You quote a portion of the air reaching 100% RH. That does not mean all of it.

FYI: at 100% RH, moisture begins to condense out of air. Dew-point influences RH, which effects condensation.

If you actually read my post instead of getting offended, then you’ll read that I implied strongly that RH of breath remains fairly constant (mine included). What doesn’t remain constant is the RH of air in the pipe bag, which you implied was constant at around 100% (ergo your mistaken conclusion that humidity does not affect pipes). If you are in a dry climate, your reeds will dry faster than if you’re in a humid climate of the same temperature in spite of your lungs pumping out air at a fairly constant RH.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:48 PM   #7
Harley G
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Sorry for seeming offended to you.


I was more concerned with the misinformation.


Due point is a function of - "the atmospheric temperature (varying according to pressure and humidity) below which water droplets begin to condense and dew can form." Warm breath into cold air.



If you blow into a tube and the air is from your lungs, the RH is a constant if you are in good health.


If you plug all the holes in your bag except for the blowstick and the chanter outlet you can place a hygrometer on the outlet you can measure the exact RH of the air coming out of the bag. This will determine the RH of the air in the bag, the air going through the chanter reed and the drone reeds.


There have been studies on this exact process to determine the effectiveness of bag drying systems.


This is why it is necessary to warm up/play in a cane chanter reed so it has absorbed as much moisture as it can from the 100% RH of the air passing through it.


As you stated, if your breath is a constant RH, geographic location will not change this.



The variable in the moisture control devices was in the bag it's self. It was found that a pure hide bag continued to absorb moisture for a considerable time whereas the lined/sealed bags settled to a constant more quickly.


I apologise if I was unclear with my initial post.


Line hygrometers are quite cheap and readily available for many such applications as per this thread as long as you are not after a certification on the reading.
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Old 09-21-2019, 08:09 PM   #8
Green Piper
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Default Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Exactly. The RH in the bag is not necessarily going to be whatever comes out of your lungs:

If the climate is dry, more moisture is going to exit the bag via the stocks and actual hide. That will have an effect on the tone, possibly drying the chanter reed and changing it’s tone. However, synthetic drone reeds may not be affected because they prefer drier conditions.

If the climate is more humid, then less moisture will leave the bag via stocks and hide. This will affect the chanter and drone reeds too to some extent.

For this reason, ambient humidity (geographic location) does have an effect on tone.

Ambient humidity is influenced by temperature.

Therefore, your original statement implying that geographic location has minimal effect on reeds is misleading/incorrect/misinformation. It is this that I am concerned about.

Charlie
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Last edited by Green Piper; 09-21-2019 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

Just from the practical experience of playing weddings, funerals, and in pipe bands for 40 years I can say that obviously both temp and humidity have profound effects on the tuning of the chanter.

The most challenging perhaps is the funeral where you play at the beginning, then stand there on the grass for 30 minutes or more, then have to play at the end.

One thing I've found is that if the air is cool (it rarely gets "cold" here) that most of the drop in pitch of the chanter between when you play at the beginning and when you play at the end is the chanter itself getting cooler. So as soon as I finish playing at the beginning of the service I feel the temp of the chanter and make sure it's at the same temp when I play at the end. I put the chanter up my jacket sleeve or inside my jacket to warm it up. If the chanter is at the same temp when I play at the end of the service, it will play at the same pitch (or very nearly so).

The other thing is the difference in pitch between playing on pavement and playing on grass. Your chanter can be dialed in on pavement but when you switch to grass not only does the overall pitch go lower but the various notes change at different rates, throwing the scale out of tune. Seems that D and High G change the most.

In your case since it's not either of those issues but living in a different location it's a matter of finding what chanter/reed combination gives the pitch you want in your particular climate.

Here in Southern California it's warmer and drier than Scotland. What happens all the time is somebody hears a great-sounding band playing on wet grass in the rain on a cool day at the Worlds in Glasgow and buying the same chanter and reed that Grade One band was playing. When they play this combination here it's very sharp and thin and unstable and they wonder why.

Obviously the best thing is if you have a good local reedmaker who makes reeds to suit your local climate.
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Old 09-22-2019, 06:57 AM   #10
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Default Re: Temperature and Humidity effects on Piping

We’re certainly affected by dry and temp here in Colorado. As described above “high and thin” are good descriptors.

I believe reedmaker Adrian Melvin said something that makes sense to me. In cool’ish humid Scotland, one key component of good tone is preventing too much humidity in the pipe bag. While here in the drier warmer geographic areas, we’re more concerned with putting humidity back into the bag. However, synthetic drone reeds prefer drier conditions, so there’s a balancing act there.

If you’re in a hot, humid geographic location, then I would expect that removal of humidity in the pipe bag is key to decent tone, especially for the drones if you’re using synthetic reeds. Your chanter reed will prefer moisture, which will keep its pitch a tad lower, but you may still find it is getting too much moisture. There are canister systems that allow for differential mc between the different reeds.

One idea may to contact a band, say the one in Dunedin, FL and see what they use for chanter/reed combos and MC.

Charlie
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