Hi! Beginner with some questions...

An on-line forum to discuss uilleann pipes

Moderators: the plod, snoogie, dropkick

Post Reply
msteady
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:42 am
Real Name: Matt Steady
Location: Leicester, England

Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by msteady » Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:08 pm

Hi,

I'm now the proud owner of a practise set made by Kenneth McNicholl. I'm very much still in the beginner stages, but I'm having great fun :) I can bang out tunes well enough now that it is more fun than annoying.

However I am going back and trying to reposition to get my fingers a little straighter. Finding hand positions that fit nicely with pads over the holes rather than creases is not as easy as you might imagine... practise makes perfect though I guess.

I'm having a bit of a problem with my A that I don't remember having before. If I blow with normal pressure, it sounds quite flat (all the other notes seem in tune). To get a normal A, I'm having to increase the bag pressure considerably. However if I use this increased pressure on other notes, they go straight up into the upper octave which is a right pain in the neck. Whilst I guess I could work on squeezing harder when playing A then relaxing a bit for the other notes, that'll never work when playing a little faster! Any advice? I did wonder if I should be using the higher pressure all the time, and the actual problem is that I shouldn't be going into the higher octave without increasing even further. Not sure - any advice would be ace!

Thanks in advance,
Matt

outofthebox
Posts: 630
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:02 pm

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by outofthebox » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:30 am

Hi Matt - From your description it sounds as if your reed might be set a little too light, as you are finding that you are jumping into the second octave quite easily. What I would suggest is that you open the lips of your reed just a touch - by squeezing very gently on each side of the bridle with small pliers. This will slightly open the aperture at the lips and make your reed play a little stronger. But remember to work extremely slowly and cautiously when adjusting your reed. If you don't want to do this yourself, perhaps you can find a piper in your area who can help you with it and also advise you on refining your bag and bellows technique. Also the maker of your pipes posts here sometimes, so he might have something to say on this.

User avatar
djm
Posts: 703
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:27 pm
Real Name: David Moulton
Location: Canadia
Contact:

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by djm » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:38 am

Just a small addition to what's been said. You may find that the climate has been changing wherever you are: drier, wetter, cooler, etc. This can have a serious effect on your reed. As noted by OOTB you will at times have to adjust your reeds to compensate by slightly changing the aperture between the lips of your reeds. And when I say slightly I mean like half a millimetre increments.

djm
Sex and drugs and uilleann pipes

wooff
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:39 am
Real Name: geoffrey wooff

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by wooff » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:42 am

DJM,

half a millimetre is a huge amount of change of apperture!!

msteady
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:42 am
Real Name: Matt Steady
Location: Leicester, England

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by msteady » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:26 am

Ahh the weather has just turned cooler and wetter after a hot summer here in the UK.

OK that's a bit scary talking about adjusting the reed... I have got a couple of extras that came with it - I might try putting one of those in.

Thanks for the help :)

msteady
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:42 am
Real Name: Matt Steady
Location: Leicester, England

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by msteady » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:29 am

Can not having my fingers completely covering the holes properly be helping it jump the octave?

outofthebox
Posts: 630
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:02 pm

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by outofthebox » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:09 am

Well it doesn't help - but it takes time to get used to stretching your fingers to cover all of the holes. I noticed that you mentioned trying to cover the holes with the 'pads' of your fingers. What you really need to do is to cover the holes with the second joint of your fingers rather than your finger tips, as would be the case on a whistle or a flute. This is hard to get used to, especially as it is very important that you have the thumb hole at the back sealed except when playing you back D. Anyway a little practice every day will get you there.

msteady
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:42 am
Real Name: Matt Steady
Location: Leicester, England

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by msteady » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:21 am

Ah sorry I was a bit misleading with the pads - I was trying to distinguish between the fleshy bit as opposed to the creases at the knuckles. I'm trying to use LH3 and RH4 fingers on the end joint and the others on the second joint. Should I be using the second joint for all of them?

I've actually got 4 reeds. They all have very different characters!

The first is the one that came in. This has a slightly flat A (possibly just when cold) and the top D is prone to "quacking" if too much pressure (which is a pain coming down from the 2nd octave). It is very easy to push into the second octave.
The second seems much easier to play. It doesn't quack and I have much more control over the octaves. However the bottom D is much louder and has a very different (unpleasant) tone.
The third is somewhere inbetween...
The fourth wants to play in the second octave all the time. The copper band on the reed is loose... so I think that needs tightening up.

Maybe I could use the fourth one to experiment with.

msteady
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:42 am
Real Name: Matt Steady
Location: Leicester, England

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by msteady » Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:24 pm

I spent some time fiddling with the reed yesterday, and managed to cure the flat A. However the back D then went weak and liable to breaking, which was really tough to play.

Then I found this page which is quite useful: http://homepage.tinet.ie/~robertscharle ... anter.html

I moved the reed out of the chanter very slightly and also moved the brindle nearer the tip in increments and now it is a lot more playable. It is in tune, and the back D is much better behaved (although breaks occasionally if I don't get the right pressure). I can move from the back D to the upper octave ok again now too, so all is good.

Now I just need to work on covering the holes with my fingers...

MickBauer
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:18 am
Real Name: Mick Bauer

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by MickBauer » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:57 pm

Sounds like you're on the right track! Back D can be a weak/problematic note -- even on an "otherwise perfect" reed, it may be necessary to use very light pressure for back D to sound properly. (Or more pressure than you expect. It can go either way.)

Being able to adapt to per-note pressure-differentials like this is just part of mastering the instrument, I think. That and getting comfortable futzing with your reeds every time the weather changes. ;-)

Best of luck,
Mick

outofthebox
Posts: 630
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:02 pm

Re: Hi! Beginner with some questions...

Post by outofthebox » Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:39 am

I play with a very light reed - so I find that it helps my back D to lift the second finger of my left hand as I release my thumb. This also gives a more interesting quality to the back D sound.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DinopY and 2 guests