2-octaves- but why?

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Rollmop
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2-octaves- but why?

Post by Rollmop » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:55 pm

As a keen low-whistler with an interest in learning bellows-blown pipes, there is one thing that is not clear to me- why is it the uilleann pipes are the only (I think?) pipes with the ability to be overblown and jump the octave. Why could I not, in theory, squeeze some Scottish smallpipes harder and get a second octave? Is it the complex multi-conical bore, or the reed, or both, or what?
Forgive my naivety but I have only ever done so much as squeeze a pipebag and am new to some of these concepts. Also, in terms of building, it would be exciting, would it not, to get some scottish smallpipes, with their characteristic sound, to sound 2 octaves? If this were indeed ever possible?

mallin
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Re: 2-octaves- but why?

Post by mallin » Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:59 pm

I'm new here as well, but I'll take a swing seeing as I roughly know the answer.

The Scottish smallpipe chanter has a cylindrial bore. 'Stopped' cylindrically-bored instruments (ie, cylindrically-bored reed instruments) potentially overblow at a twelfth instead of an octave, or if you prefer an octave and a fifth, but then only if they are specifically designed to take advantage of that potential. This leaves a gap of three notes (eg. in A smallpipes, the second B, C#, and D). Since this proves totally useless for traditional Scottish music, and would add further complexity to reed-making etc. the smallpipes are not designed to overblow. Usually you'll rupture your bag (excuse me?!) before you get the second register, although I have heard some instruments accidentally and uncontrollably leap into the second-register briefly. The conical Borderpipe chanter would be more straightforward in overblowing at an octave, but those notes would be pretty high (like a biniou) and of a different timbre than pipers are used to. But it was done on ocaccasion, and this possibly led to the development of the pastoral pipes and later the union/uilleann pipes.

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awilde569
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Re: 2-octaves- but why?

Post by awilde569 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:05 pm

You can always look into Northumbrian bagpipes, they have a similar cylindrical bore and make use of keys (up to 17 or more) to sound various notes rather than overblowing. They have a somewhat similar sound to Scottish smallpipes, a lot of videos on youtube of players.
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Rollmop
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Re: 2-octaves- but why?

Post by Rollmop » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:50 am

Ah thanks- various cobweb covered bells are ringing in the distance- I probably need to dust of Prof Murray Campbell's book about the theory of sound in conical and cylindrical spaces.
It might also explain my confusion about why a cylindrical whistle can blow 2 octaves whereas a cylindrical reed instrument cannot- because it is "closed" and therefore a different acoustical proposition.

mallin
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Re: 2-octaves- but why?

Post by mallin » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:46 am

Yes, stopped cylindrical bores are the odd ones of the whole bunch. But still more fun at parties than comical bores and, especially, cynical bores.

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Re: 2-octaves- but why?

Post by the plod » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:39 pm

The Spanish Gaita overblows into the second octave

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