Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

A forum to discuss the arcane art of making uilleann pipes, reeds, and set maintenance.

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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by Mr.Gumby » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:17 pm

Séamus Ennis felt the 'home' key for the pipes was G.

Any thoughts on that?

And don't you feel 'the sweet harmonies' could be easily achieved by the flexibility of the chanter as I mentioned above?
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outofthebox
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by outofthebox » Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:03 am

I thought that Seamus Ennis always played an old 19th century set, usually described as having a C# pitch, the fourth of that scale being F#. But I take the point. It would indeed be possible for a pipemaker to choose to make a chanter with the just intonation scale in G rather than in D and the drones set to play in D as the fifth of that G scale. Tunes played in the key of G would then have the pure harmony - but the harmony of tunes played in the key of D would then not sound so pure. In particular, on a chanter made to play within G scale Just Intonation the perfect third harmonies built around F# on the chanter would be lost.

A well-tempered - or compromise tuning system along the lines you suggest might be attempted to work around these issues - but my view is that a chanter made in D scale as close to Just Intonation as possible would be the best strategy,all things considered, for this particular instrument.

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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by Mr.Gumby » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:30 am

I am sure you are aware of the universally accepted convention among pipers and other traditional musicians of referring to notes the scale (of the chanter, flute, whistle, fiddle, concertina etc) as if in D/concert pitch, irrespective of the actual pitch of the instrument.

From the rest of your reply I take it you are not interested in the concept of a chanter giving the piper control of the notes and their intonation where needed, which is a shame as it's that very concept that will enable the player to play the correct notes in various circumstances. Flexibitlity (in tone colour and intonation) is the key to good piping.
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ausdag
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by ausdag » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:27 pm

Actually, pipers are quite well-off when it comes to getting and keeping our chanters in tune. Here's a PDF outlining a myriad of techniques for oboists to obtain good intonation, such as the angle at which the oboe is held, embechure adjustment, breathing adjustment and a variety of alternate fingerings and even 'humouring the note down with an open throat and flat tongue':

http://www.blpantherband.com/Oboe_Intonation.pdf‎

So like I said earlier, obtaining good intonation is 10% instrument, 90% player and supports Mr Gumby's assertion that the ideal goal of the pipemaker is an instrument than can be 'humoured' into good intonation to suit context, mode and key signature and so on.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
http://ozuilleann.weebly.com/

outofthebox
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by outofthebox » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:58 am

Oboe players do have the advantage of a much finer breath control of their reeds. A brilliant piper might have a very subtle left (or right) elbow, but that cannot compare with the subtleties of breath control. Hence the need for design of the chanter to bring the piper as close as possible to the correct intonation. Certainly pipers can then make use of their fine control skills to add colour and expression by bending the notes a little. But the given intonation and intervals of the chanter should be there, without the piper needing to go looking for them - with that slightly constipated expression which often arises from the effort involved.

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ausdag
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Re: Oboes, Clarinets and Pipes

Post by ausdag » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:52 pm

outofthebox wrote: But the given intonation and intervals of the chanter should be there, without the piper needing to go looking for them
The difference is the oboist needs to look for the intonation due to the physical characteristic/limitations of the instrument and the exacting nature of classical music. As an oboist over at C&F said, 'the conductor would shoot you if you didn't', whereas the piper looks for the intonation and intervals for a given context because, and this is what many don't seem to understand, looking for them is an important part of the art of piping and I would say a big part of what makes pipers like Willie Clancy sound like Willie Clancy. Of course, there are chanters and there are chanters and many need more coaxing than others, but I don't see this as a problem that needs innovative rectification but more a deeper understanding by the maker of the knowledge that is already out there that other makers are already using.
David (ausdag) Goldsworthy
http://ozuilleann.weebly.com/

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