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  • Competition pitch, solo

    Hi all,

    I'll be jumping into solo competition for the first time in nearly 20 years.

    I know that, with the top-grade bands, pitch seems to be around the 480 mark.

    But what about solo competition? In people's experience, is there a threshold for what judges may deem to be an "acceptable" pitch, or "preferred?"

    Being that this is "solo" competition, to me, I would think pitch shouldn't really matter (within reason) ... and that having a well-balanced chanter and scale would be the most important consideration. But that's just me.

    While appreciative of any input, I am most keen for general points of view; ones which are not tied to a particular grade level. I'd like know what expectations are across the board, and people's varied experiences.

    Thanks much to any and all.

    Cheers,
    ~Nate
    72
    480 or higher
    16.67%
    12
    476-479
    55.56%
    40
    471-475
    18.06%
    13
    470 or lower
    9.72%
    7
    Last edited by Pppiper; 09-19-2017, 12:28 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Competition pitch, solo

    Originally posted by Pppiper View Post

    Being that this is "solo" competition, to me, I would think pitch shouldn't really matter (within reason) ... and that having a well-balanced chanter and scale would be the most important consideration.
    Coupled with a well set up pipe, with accurate execution and expression.you'll be in the winners circle.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Competition pitch, solo

      Originally posted by el gaitero View Post
      Coupled with a well set up pipe, with accurate execution and expression.you'll be in the winners circle.
      Thanks for your input.

      Cheers,
      ~Nate

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Competition pitch, solo

        Originally posted by Pppiper View Post

        Being that this is "solo" competition, to me, I would think pitch shouldn't really matter (within reason) ... and that having a well-balanced chanter and scale would be the most important consideration. But that's just me.
        I compete in grade 4 in EUSPBA and I think what you say is probably right.

        I have seen lower grade competitors using band chanters, which means they're probably in the 470s or 480s (our band was 486 or something this past weekend). I have seen an open competitor using a chanter with a yellow sole in piobaireachd, which probably means low 470s.

        When it's cold I've seen my chanter as low as 466.

        As long as it's balanced and in tune I generally don't worry about the numbers. If you have a modern chanter and a modern reed, then you'll have a modern sound.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Competition pitch, solo

          Originally posted by bob864 View Post
          I have seen lower grade competitors using band chanters, which means they're probably in the 470s or 480s (our band was 486 or something this past weekend). I have seen an open competitor using a chanter with a yellow sole in piobaireachd, which probably means low 470s.
          Thanks for the input, much appreciated. I'd bought a newer chanter recently, and I love it, but was surprised to find that it seems to always be around 471 to 473. Maybe out in sun on a hot day, it'll get to the high 470's but I haven't had occasion to discover this yet. My rehearsal space (fortunately and unfortunately) has air conditioning on 24/7 that might make penguins a little chilly.

          I love the chanter otherwise (especially the feel/spacing of the holes), and frankly, I like the pitch where it is. I'll not worry about it until I have to (jumping into the ring next season).

          Cheers,
          ~Nate

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Competition pitch, solo

            I think you'll be fine with a pitch typical of a newer chanter. For example, my McC2 tunes around 472 in my practice room in our basement (chilly in winter), but more like 474-476 in summer.

            I think if you pitched much lower than 472, you may get a comment. More likely could be that your piping may stand out because of the difference in pitch between you and other players and that could be really good, or really bad.
            "Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)

            Comment


            • #7
              Competition pitch, solo

              Sorry...... double posted by accident
              Last edited by Green Piper; 09-20-2017, 03:42 PM.
              "Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Competition pitch, solo

                Originally posted by Green Piper View Post
                I think you'll be fine with a pitch typical of a newer chanter. For example, my McC2 tunes around 472 in my practice room in our basement (chilly in winter), but more like 474-476 in summer.

                I think if you pitched much lower than 472, you may get a comment. More likely could be that your piping may stand out because of the difference in pitch between you and other players and that could be really good, or really bad.
                This is encouraging, thank you. The set I'm playing is newly acquired (got them in hand in their current set up around March, 2017); primarily for the purpose of starting up competing in 2018. I have too many irons in the fire to have tried competing in 2017, so I'd decided to keep 2017 as a preparation year as various other obligations start to subside.

                I'm glad of that decision, but that also means that these pipes have never been played outside of my practice space. With heat blasting during the dry winter, and a/c blasting during the summer, these pipes have yet to see a hot, humid day outdoors.

                I'm doing lots of traveling gigs, and this set/chanter stays at home for these. The events are rowdy, and again, much travel involved .. so I have a plastic set of McCallums for these, which serves me quite well.

                As such, maybe it's not so crazy that I'm not seeing the pitch get any higher than about 472/473. It always seems to start at 471, and will climb a bit after about 1/2 hour of warming up.

                We'll see what happens when I can get them playing outdoors. If they're still persistently pitching on the low side, and I'm getting comments about it, I'll worry about it then. In the meantime, I like my chanter, my reeds, volume, scale balance, tone, comfort, etc.

                So I'm not going futz with anything for the time being. Frankly, I'd much rather invest my time in playing the tunes.

                Thanks to all, the input from all has been most helpful.
                Last edited by Pppiper; 09-21-2017, 06:06 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Competition pitch, solo

                  I switched to my Naill ABW this last year as birls were extra bad with my McC2. Indeed, to me it felt like it's pitch was stratospheric at times compared with the McC2 although my teacher reckoned it was fine and no judge commented negatively. So, it must have been my ears being used to my McC2 with Troy reed.
                  Last edited by Green Piper; 09-21-2017, 04:23 PM. Reason: Because spellcheck hates birls and loves girls
                  "Melancholy as the Drone of a Lancashire Bagpipe" (Behn, Aphra 1678. Sir Patient Fancy)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Competition pitch, solo

                    Originally posted by Green Piper View Post
                    I switched to my Naill ABW this last year as birls were extra bad with my McC2. Indeed, to me it felt like it's pitch was stratospheric at times compared with the McC2 although my teacher reckoned it was fine and no judge commented negatively. So, it must have been my ears being used to my McC2 with Troy reed.
                    Right on, thanks for the input!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Competition pitch, solo

                      I'd start by saying that anything close to modern pitch 470's and up is probably going to end up eliminating pitch as a consideration in judging. I do know it shouldn't be a consideration. I have seen a solo competitor on advice of an inexperienced tutor play at about 460 against other pipers all playing in the high 470's. In fact the competitor made a season of doing that, understandably with poor result. The lower pitched pipe sounded fine away from other piping and was in tune with itself, but in the competition area near other piping, was very noticeably flat and therefore seemed to be off.
                      The older I get, the more certain I am, that everything should be made from blackwood, beeswax, reeds, shellac and bits of string...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Competition pitch, solo

                        Originally posted by zarb View Post
                        I'd start by saying that anything close to modern pitch 470's and up is probably going to end up eliminating pitch as a consideration in judging. I do know it shouldn't be a consideration. I have seen a solo competitor on advice of an inexperienced tutor play at about 460 against other pipers all playing in the high 470's. In fact the competitor made a season of doing that, understandably with poor result. The lower pitched pipe sounded fine away from other piping and was in tune with itself, but in the competition area near other piping, was very noticeably flat and therefore seemed to be off.
                        Insightful, thank you. Hopefully 471-472 won't be an issue next year, as I really like my current set up. If it proves to be something that's commented on, I might think about grabbing another chanter. I've been eying the Bruce Gandy's McCallum chanter for a while, so I'm tempted.

                        Cheers,
                        ~Nate

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Competition pitch, solo

                          Originally posted by Pppiper View Post
                          If it proves to be something that's commented on
                          I'd say if you have any concerns then immediately when you finish your performance and the judge says whatever s/he says then say thank you and then ask, "Do you think my chanter is too flat?"

                          The really good judges are only going to "comment on" the things that really stand out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Competition pitch, solo

                            To go to the heart of the discussion....why not just go with the flow and play reasonably at....the pitch du jour.

                            Check out videos of the big boys to hear what they are pitched at,...Willie, Stuart, Gordon, Colin,Angus, come to mind....certainly many others....; listen to Metro Cup 2017 video and always seek to emulate.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Competition pitch, solo

                              I play a 2013 David Naill ABW Solo Chanter which pitches between 478 - 481.
                              Martin at DNC told me to play with "a Donald McPhee or maybe a Warnock". I have played with a McPhee and with a G1 Platinum with success.

                              Comment

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