How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

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dirk the piper
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How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by dirk the piper » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:32 pm

I'm at a certain point in trying to make a copy of a Rowsome chanter, without having a picture, or much information about the way he characterized his tone holes. I have seen some photos from the Na Piobairi Uilleann calendar, but no hard measurements.

I have some idea that Rowsome's concert-pitch chanters had a fairly strong scallop on the back D, and some noticeable, but less aggressive
scalloping on the tone holes on the front of the chanter. Is that generally correct? What other aspects of his tone-hole work are noticeable? Were his tone holes rounded, as some have described, like this: |) (| ? Did he use aggressive undercutting of the C# hole, or the back D? What about the other tone-holes? I get the feeling that a great deal of the character of his chanters were locked-up in these details that are effectively hidden from me, except by guessing, and experiencing the works of other pipe-makers, and carefully studying all the fine discussions that are on this forum about voicing chanters.

-Dirk
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by Mr.Gumby » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:41 pm

Not all Leo Rowsome chanters are equal. Actually they can vary quite considerably from one to the next. While I have seen ones that were scalloped, in varying degrees, I have also seen those that were not.

There's also the issue with some chanters that have been around for a while where it's no longer clear who did what to them during their lifetime.
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by dirk the piper » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:28 pm

Thanks Mr. G, I have heard that there are many variations in his work, and that modification have been done. Having seen only a couple of specimens myself, it's helpful to hear that the variations are, perhaps a bit more ... variant than I had thought.

But, what about the chanter that was measured by Craig Fischer - the one that was owned by Mr. Talty? Several people on this forum have worked with that design. What are the tone-holes like on that one?

-Dirk
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:40 pm

Hi Dirk

In general I think Leo did considerable scalloping, but as Mr. G points out it can be hard to make a blanket statement about the state of the chanters when they left Leo's hands.

The scalloping is fairly sophisticated in shape - concave in the vertical axis but convex in the diametrical direction. To get it right, you need not only to get the right shape but also to have good chimney height measurements. I don't think the C# hole was, in general, heavily undercut, but maybe the back d was. Shape seems generally to be like so: )( with, IMO, lots of rounding on most holes other than C# and perhaps the top E hole.

I've seen the Talty but haven't reeded it myself. I think it may have less undercutting than "usual" for Leo but it's hard to say. It's unfortunate that the published figures don't include chimney heights - I don't have them either. I can try and get them for you (and the rest of the world...)

However I would say, broadly speaking, that scalloping was slighter on the following toneholes: C#, both Es, heavy on back d, noticeable on B and G but not heavy, and relatively heavy on A and F#. Looking at the data I have to hand (of _other_ Leo R. chanters), back d chimney should be around 10.0 mm.

Leo's chanters do have similarities but I would agree that there's a wide variation - some can have reeds interchanged among one another and others most definitely can not.

best regards,

Bill

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by dirk the piper » Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:22 pm

Bill,
Those descriptions are quite helpful to me in gaining some subjective feel about the Rowesome chanters. Thanks! Certainly, I'd love to see stack heights and, maybe even photos or recordings of that Fischer/Talty chanter! I suppose sound files would be best at the original, slightly higher pitch, as well. That would be very valuable to those of us who are learning the craft of pipe-making as well as playing. Of course, it would also be really neat if someone were to come along and document another good LR specimen, too. :-)

Have you also heard the Talty chanter, Bill? If so, would the C# sound flat compared to some modern chanters, or the 1st octave B. What would the first octave F# or G sound like? Of course I ask this, with the persistent feeling that the tuning would be very-much dependent on the staple and reed, and the overall pitch, and the gigantic field of other variables...
-Dirk
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by MHay » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:34 am

I would be interested in the information also.

Was this chanter supposed to play at A453?

I suppose someone has done the experiment of using a reed that played in one of these 1930ish chanters at the pitch they were made to play and then used the same reed to make a scaled version of the chanter that plays at modern A440 pitch? Is that were the 14.5" wide bore D chanter comes from? Assuming the original chanter plays at A453, simple frequency scaling would indicate the length to be somewhat longer (about 3/16").

I noticed in a picture of the reeds taken from Leo's personal set made in 1922 that there is a note indicating the chanter played at about A444 (I think the picture was on the Rowsome site). I took the picture of these reeds into my drawing program on the computer and scaled the drawing until the ruler in the photo was reading true. The measurements I made on the reeds from the picture indicate the chanter reed was quite a bit smaller (shorter and narrower) than the monster reeds used in a number of modern wide bore D chanters. I expect the reed probably crowed at bit sharper than "typical" modern D reeds? Maybe that's not a good assumption if the reed was scraped quite thin.

Pipemaking would be (a little?) easier if we could hold/play/reed these instruments. I guess the pitch issue is always a slippery slope with old chanters.

Thanks for all the insight Bill
-Mike

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by Mr.Gumby » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:07 am

Hm, that chanter is literally just up the road from me. Is it the boxwood one?

Séan usually has his Rowsome chanters reeded at Kerrigan's.

In fairness, the ones I saw that were not scalloped were the (I suppose) learner models that someone described as 'made out of a broomstick and then painted with black gloss paint'
Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:27 am

Mr.Gumby wrote:Hm, that chanter is just up the road from me. Is it the boxwood one?
Are you sure? I thought the one Craig Fischer described in Iris na bPiobairi (i.e. the one being discussed) was the J. H. one in the greater Belfast area... boxwood in any case.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by Mr.Gumby » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:33 am

I am going by what I read on this thread, i.e. we're talking about one of the Talty chanters. Craig did measure Séan's pipes while he was here.

I played with Cian and some young ones (it was a school/exchange students thing) a while ago and he had the boxwood Leo out. So that's the bits I put together in my head.
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:50 am

I think the chanter in question was associated with Martin Talty.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by Mr.Gumby » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:17 pm

That was me off into the left field then. Sorry about that.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:08 pm

Mr.Gumby wrote:That was me off into the left field then. Sorry about that.
No problem. I could have it wrong too - I'll try and check my facts over the next few days.

BTW Mike, I'm far from sure that this chanter plays sharper than A=444; at length 362mm I would expect reeding it to A=440 might not be too tough. As usual it's dangerous to speculate from such a distance (but we do it anyway).

Regarding the crow pitch of the reeds in Leo's own set, I'd make the following observations; firstly, if they are Leo's "solo reeds" then I think there may be recordings that would indicate the pitch of the chanter when played to his liking. Recordings made to tape can't be trusted, of course, since tape speed can vary so much. Maybe acetates would be more trustworthy, you'd have to ask an antique recording acifionado. Second observation is that reeds tend to get shorter over their lifetime, but never longer, if you catch my drift. Lastly, from the examples I've seen, I believe Leo did indeed scrape the lips quite thin.

best regards,

[Edited to change type "262" to "length 362"]
Bill
Last edited by billh on Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by dirk the piper » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:22 pm

According to the Fischer "Phrenology" article from 1999, the chanter was owned by J. H. at the time... From the article: " It is a boxwood chanter made in the 1930’s and previously belonged to Martin Talty of Milltown Malbay." So, anyone know J.H?
-Dirk
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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by billh » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:41 pm

dirk the piper wrote:According to the Fischer "Phrenology" article from 1999, the chanter was owned by J. H. at the time... From the article: " It is a boxwood chanter made in the 1930’s and previously belonged to Martin Talty of Milltown Malbay." So, anyone know J.H?
-Dirk
Leave it with me, I'll see what I can find out for everybody about the chimney heights at least.

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Re: How Much Scalloping did Leo Rowsome do?

Post by MichaelLoos » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:12 am

I am getting confused and have to ask about definitions:
what do you mean by "chimney height"? I used to think this was the wall thickness at a certain fingerhole, but "back d chimney should be around 10.0 mm" makes me think I must be wrong.
And what is this measurement: "at 262mm I would expect reeding it to A=440 might not be too tough"?

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