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Old 12-05-2013, 11:47 AM   #1
ckrusor
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Default Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

I'm able to tune the drones on my Garvie A smallpipes to B/f#/b, but I haven't been able to achieve a consonant sound between the chanter and the drones in that arrangement.

I first tune the chanter, making any necessary reed adjustments, by ear and using Audacity's spectrum analysis function (with drones corked). I confirm that all chanter notes are within a couple of Hz of the target frequencies on the just intonation scale. And I confirm by ear that the scale sounds neither sharp nor flat. I then tune the drones to the chanter in the A/e/a or A/d/a scheme and it all sounds great. A warm sound with great consonance at A and e or A and d and no unexpected dissonance anywhere on the scale.

Then I attempt to tune the drones at B/f#/b, and I can get good consonance at b on the chanter or f# but not both. I then recheck the spectrograms for the chanter and the drones and all the notes are where they should be, but I still can't get both the b and the f# notes on the chanter to be simultaneously in tune with the B/f#/b drones. When the chanter B is in tune with the drones, the f# is badly dissonant and can be brought closer by increasing air pressure (the chanter f# is too flat). If I adjust the drones to tune with the chanter f#, then the chanter B sounds badly dissonant, but gets closer by letting off the air pressure (the chanter b is too sharp).

It isn't clear to me why everything should be in tune when the drones are sounding A/e/a, but then the chanter f# is flat (or the chanter b is sharp) when the drones are sounding B/f#/b. Any ideas?

Here is a good example of drones "tuned to B" (presumably B/f#/b) sounding good (chanter b and f# are both consonant with the drones):

http://theotherpipers.org/index/wp-c...To-Barra_B.mp3
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:24 PM   #2
Kirby Allen
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

B and F# are very difficult harmonies to get a pleasing sound out of between chanters, nevermind a chanter and 3 drones. You would be better off trying to get a D on the baritone instead of an F#.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:39 PM   #3
ckrusor
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Ah. Thanks, Kirby. Maybe the other good examples I've heard of drones "tuned to B" were B/D/b.
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
Aaron Shaw
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

If you are tuned to A440 in Just Intonation then your major 3rd, C#, would be about 14 cents flat of Equal Temperament. If you keep the same chanter tuning but tune the drones to B your new 2nd (from B) would be the C#. The 2nd should be about 4 cents sharp but will now be 18 cents flat (as you've tuned the drone to the 4 cents sharp B) and will not be consonant with the drone. There will be similar problems all the way up the scale so when you get to F# (16 cents flat to Equal Temperament) it will now be 20 cents flat to the B. F# being the 5th now (from B) it should be about 2 cents sharp. My guess would be that the piper on the recording (which sounds very cool btw) retuned the chanter.

Here's a good site on Just Tuning-

http://www.sfu.ca/sonic-studio/handb...st_Tuning.html

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Old 12-07-2013, 01:59 AM   #5
Pete Stewart
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

I'd guess the recording you linked to is a chanter in B. It seems to have a high B and a flat 7th [and a D natural]. I have one just like it. The drones seem to be two B's only. In fact, the soundfile seems very flat of B by my tuner; could it actually be a sharp Bflat chanter?
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Pete, thanks. I hadn't thought of that. I don't remember if it says in the article whether the chanter played in those recordings is in the key of B.

For a chanter of that kind (like yours), is the low A the same note as the B on an A chanter (or close)? If that was the case, then I would expect the low A note in those recordings (which would actually be a B, near 494 Hz) to be consonant with the B drones. But it isn't. The low A on the chanter played in that recording is a bit dissonant with the drones; the B is consonant. This suggests to me that it is an A chanter. Am I thinking about this correctly?
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:49 AM   #7
Mark D
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Regular old small pipe chanter (with high b key) in "A" playing in Bm isn't it?

The reason I say this is because I set my pipes like this quite often. Here's the original article: http://theotherpipers.org/index/?p=956
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:48 PM   #8
ckrusor
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Mark, I think I'm not following you. My chanter is nominally in the key of A and it actually plays a low A near 220 Hz. Do you have an "A" chanter that actually plays Bb or B (the low A sounds at 230-250 Hz)?

Incidentally, I've exchanged a couple of emails over the last day or two with Ralph Loomis, the author of that article. He confirmed that the chanter he's playing in those recordings is a true A chanter, not B or Bb, and the drones are B/F#/b.

So, I still can't explain why I have trouble getting a good sound with mine using that drone scheme. My next experiment will be to tune the drones in B/F#/b to the F# on the chanter and use a wire rush to bring down the pitch of the B on the chanter.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:46 PM   #9
Kirby Allen
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by ckrusor View Post
Mark, I think I'm not following you. My chanter is nominally in the key of A and it actually plays a low A near 220 Hz. Do you have an "A" chanter that actually plays Bb or B (the low A sounds at 230-250 Hz)?

Incidentally, I've exchanged a couple of emails over the last day or two with Ralph Loomis, the author of that article. He confirmed that the chanter he's playing in those recordings is a true A chanter, not B or Bb, and the drones are B/F#/b.

So, I still can't explain why I have trouble getting a good sound with mine using that drone scheme. My next experiment will be to tune the drones in B/F#/b to the F# on the chanter and use a wire rush to bring down the pitch of the B on the chanter.
On my smallpipes there can be tuning issues the shorter you tune the drones to where it's in tune: you stop hearing the dissonance only to have other overtones start beating again and you end up trying to chase the sweet spot that may not be there. It could be the case for trying to tune yours.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: Problems when tuning drones to B on A smallpipes

Yes, I've had that experience, particularly when tuning the bass drone up as far as it will go. In the case of the B/F#/b arrangement on my set, though, the drones tune together very nicely, and I actually have a B hole (normally corked) in the bass drone, so I don't have to collapse the drone to achieve the B. It plays a nice B at basically the same length as the A. The drone sound is warm, consonant, and stable in the B/F#/b scheme, and I can tinker to make the nice drone sound consonant with B, D, or F# on the chanter, but only one of them. I can't get more than one chanter note at a time to agree with the drones when the drones are tuned to B/F#/b.
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