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Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

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  • #16
    Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

    Ahh....ok; thank you for the clarification!

    Are they that difference from having a MCS installed though? Obviously, the intended use can be the same - MCS...but, do they not also have the same "unintended side-affects"?

    My apologies to the OP, if I have "high-jacked" his thread.

    I guess I am "hearing" from everyone that the "evil-ness" and "controversy" of the device is the effects the device has on dampening of the volume and the quality of the sound coming from the drones.

    I don't think that there is great harm by way of this means to justify the end here. The use of the device to keep the student engaged. As our esteemed colleague put it earlier, they are "training wheels"...which can be easily removed as the pupil advances. The "learning point" is to point this out to the pupil, and ensure that the pupil understands that they are taking an additional step, drawing out their learning process in learning to properly strike in and cut out in a proficient and effective manner.

    Thank you everyone for assisting in my learning as well!

    Comment


    • #17
      Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

      Originally posted by Army.Bagpiper View Post
      Are they that difference from having a MCS installed though? Obviously, the intended use can be the same - MCS...but, do they not also have the same "unintended side-affects"?
      The same debate has been had about MCS, although for slightly different reasons. Drone valves actually restrict the amount of air available to the drone reeds, whereas tube-on-stock-based MCS just stops the interaction between the drones (and maybe restricts airflow a tiny amount). So the MCS debate is whether you trade the absolute stability of tuning for a slight loss of volume and tone. Stability of tuning is a much more compelling argument than ease of strike-in, especially for a solo player. You still get a lot of guys at the top who argue sheepskin/tube trap and tone are more important, but I think the MCS crowd is winning (no pun intended).

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

        Much of the problem is the technical side of owning a set of pipes and keeping everything in good adjustment and working order.
        Just why do you think that tone "enhancers" will help with keeping everything working?

        The easiest way of keeping the pipes in working order is to play them.

        If she is struggling with the chanter and multiple drones, then simplify the equation. Reduce to the minimum what it takes for her to get a consistent sound out of the pipes.

        Comment


        • #19
          Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

          Greetings to All,

          Please allow me to begin with the simple fact... and
          stipulation... that I haven't the foggiest as to what any
          of the "enhancers" or "valves" are... or do... and that
          I wouldn't be able to recognize any such... and even
          if a brace of them... were laid on a table before me!!

          Likewise... please allow me to re-quote... as I have
          made mention here aforetime... from an old mate...
          and piper (and instructor)... who had served in the
          old 51st HD....

          "Jeez!!! ...Drunken shepherds ha' been playin' these
          things on the sides o' rain-soaked hills for hundreds
          of years!! Just play th' bleedin' tune!!"

          Now, and please do understand me... I am not against
          modern conveniences... and automatic transmissions
          come quickly to mind... but... the ability to drive... should
          not... and can not... be predicated on any such.

          Strike ins... and many other matters... such as a decent
          Double D (call it hat you will ... are... skills...that we, and
          perforce... must acquire... if ...we are to play!! (Rather like
          being able to regain vehicle control in the middle of an icy
          and treacherous curve).

          I must confess... I am the more for the "bare bones" manner
          of teaching... and for learning... and then... the accomplished
          student... may add what ever accoutrements may add to their
          ease... and comfort... whilst playing. (Comfort is important.)

          But... and when all else fails... (and believe me, it surely shall
          that then... lone piper... must be able... to step out of his or her
          band mob... or circle... and muck madly about with the reeds...
          and then... be able to step back in... playing the tune!!

          I would hazard that dependence upon "mechanicals"... should
          not become (oh, please)... our encroaching norm...

          And with...

          Regards to All,

          Pip01


          Last edited by Pip01; 05-08-2016, 11:23 PM.
          My friends all know,
          With what a brave carouse...

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

            Couple of questions to those eschewing "modern" contraptions in bag piping:

            1. Are you playing sheepskin or other natural bag?
            2. You got your bag tied-in securely using real sinew?
            3. You don't have to worry about a leaky zipper do you?
            4. I assume you're an all cane drone reed person?
            5. Are your reeds hand made?

            If not, then leave the "modern" versus "traditional" out of this discussion and stick to issues such as tone, playability, learning curve, what the player in question is physically capable of, or where she wants to take her playing, oh, and her actual setup too.

            Charlie
            "Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

              "If not, then leave the "modern" versus "traditional" out of...."

              I don't think those opposing drone valves or whatnot are necessarily piping 'Traditionalists'. I think it's just that their are a lot of gizmos and trinkets which are marketed as making piping easier. Many of these things are questionable or unnecessary (or junk).

              As for myself, I don't really understand what 'enhancers' are supposed to do but if it will keep this person going during the difficult frustrating period (and that's the question, sorry I don't have an answer) I say use them. Myself, I'm a practical minimalist.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                Originally posted by BGP View Post

                As for myself, I don't really understand what 'enhancers' are supposed to do
                If you have a synthetic bag is is much more difficult to fill the bag with air in two beats to strike in, and it requires that all the air be used up to cut out cleanly.

                "Enhancers" restrict airflow to the drones and make these things much easier.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                  Originally posted by BGP View Post
                  Myself, I'm a practical minimalist.

                  Nicely put!
                  "Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                    Originally posted by bob864 View Post
                    If you have a synthetic bag is is much more difficult to fill the bag with air in two beats to strike in, and it requires that all the air be used up to cut out cleanly.
                    It a bit like using a balloon as a pipe bag. It makes it much trickier to cut off cleanly.

                    Me? I play hide. Call me a rebel.

                    Andrew
                    Andrew T. Lenz, Jr. BDF Moderator
                    BagpipeJourney.com - Reference for Bagpipers

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                      As the originator of this thread, thanks for all the replies. It gives me a clear direction to work with my student.

                      And, Pip01, I really like the quote:

                      "But... and when all else fails... (and believe me, it surely shall
                      that then... lone piper... must be able... to step out of his or her
                      band mob... or circle... and muck madly about with the reeds...
                      and then... be able to step back in... playing the tune!!"

                      It states things in pretty clear order.

                      Tom

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                        Originally posted by Tom1136 View Post
                        I need an opinion or two on tone enhancers being used by students.
                        Thanks, Tom
                        I started playing at age 49 four years ago and was up on pipes 9 months later. A very good piper (former pipe major of a US grade 4 band) said he used Shepard Tone Enhancers (as opposed to valves) in his pipes so I figured if they were good enough for him, who am I to argue? I put them in my original set of Gibsons and my strike-ins and cut-offs immediately improved. I then used them for the last two years in my MacLellans after selling the Gibsons and never had a problem.

                        While my MacLellans were in North Carolina being repaired for three weeks, I borrowed a nondescript old set of pipes from a friend in the band that I play in. These were a set of Frankenstein pipes cobbled together from who knows what but they did the job while I was out of pocket with my own pipes. These pipes did *not* have any tone enhancers or drone valves and I noticed they were a *lot* easier to play from an overall effort and stamina standpoint. I did have to quickly learn how to strike-in and cut-off without the "crutches" however.

                        When I got my MacLellans back, I took the tone enhancers out and have been trying to relearn striking in and cutting off without them and I cannot say that it's been easy but... I don't seem to be working as hard as I did. The drones have a *little* more volume and "ooomph" to them but I can't say that I notice a huge OMG kind of difference.

                        My instructor is now suggesting that I convert to hide to help the strike-ins and cut-offs and I am considering it. I played her set and I liked the feel of the natural hide bag.
                        - Scott

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                          Originally posted by Blueliner44 View Post

                          My instructor is now suggesting that I convert to hide to help the strike-ins and cut-offs and I am considering it.
                          An expensive fix ( maybe) vs simply,imho, perfecting the technique.

                          If you now have a non-suede synthetic bag ( canmore, bannatyne ,etc) some people have a problem with their balloon-y feel under the arm. Again...something you can get used to within a single focus session of starts and stops with your instructor looking on for coaching.
                          A sueded synthetic bag...a Bannatyne..is quite leather like but without old fashion maintenance.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                            A regular cowhide bag is really pretty cheap, all things considered ($145). It's once you start adding on zippers and grommets that is starts getting pricey. Of course, cowhide can have moisture problems. Certainly no worse than synthetic, but you have less moisture control options. I still think cowhide is a great option for the budget piper who is a dry blower, and it really does make strike-ins easier.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                              Originally posted by Blueliner44 View Post

                              My instructor is now suggesting that I convert to hide to help the strike-ins and cut-offs and I am considering it. I played her set and I liked the feel of the natural hide bag.
                              If you've been playing regularly for four years on a synthetic bag it's probably time for a new bag anyway. If you cork the stocks does it still hold air? They tend to get pinhole leaks all over them (wipe a soapy rag on the outside while inflated).

                              I just got a cowhide bag from Lee & Sons for $168, iirc. I also got a split stock tube trap from Roddy MacLellan.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: Tone enhancers: devil's spawn or saving grace?

                                Originally posted by Blueliner44 View Post
                                I started playing at age 49 four years ago and was up on pipes 9 months later. A very good piper (former pipe major of a US grade 4 band) said he used Shepard Tone Enhancers (as opposed to valves) in his pipes so I figured if they were good enough for him, who am I to argue? I put them in my original set of Gibsons and my strike-ins and cut-offs immediately improved. I then used them for the last two years in my MacLellans after selling the Gibsons and never had a problem.

                                While my MacLellans were in North Carolina being repaired for three weeks, I borrowed a nondescript old set of pipes from a friend in the band that I play in. These were a set of Frankenstein pipes cobbled together from who knows what but they did the job while I was out of pocket with my own pipes. These pipes did *not* have any tone enhancers or drone valves and I noticed they were a *lot* easier to play from an overall effort and stamina standpoint. I did have to quickly learn how to strike-in and cut-off without the "crutches" however.

                                When I got my MacLellans back, I took the tone enhancers out and have been trying to relearn striking in and cutting off without them and I cannot say that it's been easy but... I don't seem to be working as hard as I did. The drones have a *little* more volume and "ooomph" to them but I can't say that I notice a huge OMG kind of difference.

                                My instructor is now suggesting that I convert to hide to help the strike-ins and cut-offs and I am considering it. I played her set and I liked the feel of the natural hide bag.
                                So, I played a synth bag for years. This is getting a little off topic, I know. But, I wanted to try something more substantial. I went to a hide bag. I honestly dont play enough to keep up with the maintenance, and found that the bag I had, didnt fit me right. I switched to a hybrid bag. Its something you MAY want to consider. You get the feel of a hide bag under your arm, and the (relatively) maintenance free regimen of a synth bag.
                                Scottish Proverb; 12 highlanders and a piper make a rebellion

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