Back D Revisited

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Back D Revisited

Post by outofthebox8 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:47 am

This is my latest thinking on a cause for weak back D.

Let's say we make a reed and thin the lips down until it is playing nice and sweet in the chanter - except that back D is weak and tending to sound flat. Naturally we might assume that we have thinned the lips down too much and by thickening them we would resolve the back D issue, though at the expense of some of the sweetness that we had achieved. But perhaps the problem is not really in the lips, but farther up the blades.

My belief is that weak back D is really caused by the middle to back area of the scrape being a little too strong. So when back D is sounded the initial vibration at the lips is fine, but as that vibration travels down the blades it meets resistance from stiffer fibres and falls back on itself, creating the weak back D effect with which we are all familiar. Kind of like a wave meeting an obstacle and falling back on itself.

So this points to a solution that leaves the lip area alone (and also avoids the other 'fix' of widening the lip aperture) and instead works on refining the middle to back area of the scrape. What I have done is used a very worn piece of fine sandpaper and worked horizontally all across the blade from the midpoint to the bridle. By doing this refinement a little at a time over a period of days, it will be noticed that back D is getting stronger. In fact back D is responding as before at the lips, but the resistance farther down the blades has been reduced, so allowing the vibration to move more freely through the reed.

[Of course it should still be noted that back D is the most pressure sensitive note - so the onus is still very much on the player to refine bag arm pressure when sounding this note.]

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