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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 22-Dec-2008, 07:47 PM
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This thread is for all those who play or enjoy the pipes. Not only the great highland bagpipe but all forms of the ancient instrument. I invite pipers to discuss different techniques, reeds-traditional verse modern improvements, preferences for tone and tuning, as well as favorite melodies and tunes.
If you are a composer this could be a forum for sharing your creations, or if you just enjoy the sounds of the pipes and have favorite tunes please share them here.
What are your thoughts on the wide selection of electronic pipes? Do you own one? Do you use it for practice or performing?
I know there are a few pipers among the membership here and I have noticed that not too many of you post very often. Hopefully this thread will be of interest to you. So lets hear from you.


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The Scots of course insist that the pipes produce music. But the point is after all not too important. For those who love them, the pipes can evoke more vividly than any other instrument, high emotion, they can inspire valor, and tell of tragic tales of battles long ago. They can call forth merriment or sentiment. It does not matter what the sound is called, those who are deaf to its merits would not understand anyway.
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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 23-Dec-2008, 08:20 AM
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Here is a short history of the bagpipes and how the Scots adapted them to suit their traditions.
Bagpipes are thought to have been used in ancient Egypt.

The bagpipe was the instrument of the Roman infantry while the trumpet was used by the cavalry.

Bagpipes existed in many forms in many places around the world. In each country the basic instrument was the same, a bag with a chanter and one or more drones. Some of these were mouth blown while others used a bellows attachment to supply the air. The bag provided a sustained tone while the musician took a breath and allowed several tones to be played at once.

The origins of the pipes in Scotland is uncertain. Some say it was a Roman import. Others believe that the instrument came from Ireland as the result of colonization. Another theory is that they were developed there independently. Historians can only speculate on the origins of the Scottish clans' piob mhor, or great Highland bagpipe, but the Highlanders were the ones to develop the instrument to its fullest extent and make it, both in peace and war, their national instrument.

The original pipes in Scotland probably had, at the most, a single drone. The second drone was added to the pipes in the mid to late 1500s. The first written mention of the "Great Pipes" was in 1623 when a piper from Perth was prosecuted for playing on the Sabbath. The third drone, or the great drone, came into use early in the 1700s.

In the Lowlands of Scotland, pipers occupied well-defined positions as town pipers, performers for weddings, feasts and fairs. There was no recorded "master piper" nor were there any pipe schools. Lowland pipers played songs and dance music, as was expected by their audience. Over the mountains and glens, however, Highland pipers were strongly influenced by their background of the Celtic legends and the wild nature of the Highlands. The Highland piper occupied a high and honored position within the Clan system. To be a piper was sufficient and, if he could play well, nothing else would be asked of him.

As bagpipe use faded throughout most of Europe, a new form of music was starting in the Highlands. Beginning with Iain Odhar, who lived in the mid-1500s, the MacCrimmon family was responsible for elevating Highland pipe music to a new level, according to historians. This music is called piobaireachd (pronounced piobroch). This classical music is an art form which can compare to the music of any other country and most of it was composed 100 years before the piano and without written notation.

Clan pipers titles were mostly hereditary and held in much esteem. The best known were the MacCrimmons, pipers to MacLeod of Dunvegan; the MacAuthurs, pipers to MacDonald of the Isles; the MacKays, pipers to the MacKenzie; the Rankins, pipers to MacLearn of Duart.

As a musical instrument of war, the Great Pipes of the Highlands were without equal, according to historians. The shrill and penetrating notes worked well in the roar and din of battle and pipes could be heard at distances up to 10 miles. Because of the importance of the bagpipes to any Highland army, they were classified as an instrument of war by the Loyalist government during the Highland uprising in the 1700s. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, kilts and bagpipes were outlawed, the pipes being classified as instruments of war.

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Emmet 
Posted: 24-Dec-2008, 08:22 AM
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My name's Emmet, I'm a piper with the St. Andrews Pipes & Drums of Tampa Bay, for the color guard of Post 144 of the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Dunedin Chapter of the New World Celts. I play a set of McCallum's with an old low-pitched blackwood Naill chanter solo, and a plastic Gibson chanter with the band; Selbie Mk III drone reeds (with inverted bass), and Ross chanter reeds. I also play smallpipes, penny whistle, and am attempting to learn uilleann pipes.

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What are your thoughts on the wide selection of electronic pipes? Do you own one? Do you use it for practice or performing?


I have a Fagerstrom; it's great for practice, as it's very unforgiving of crossing noises or crushed embellishments. It's great for learning new tunes, as it's about the size of a cigar it's highly portable; with earphones I can practice while otherwise wasting time; doctor's offices, airlines, while the wife's watching something insipid on TV.

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The bagpipe was the instrument of the Roman infantry while the trumpet was used by the cavalry.


the tibia urticularis. The Roman emperor Nero was a piper, playing "the organ with the bag under the arm". He couldn't have possibly fiddled as Rome burned, as the fiddle wouldn't be invented until 400 years later.

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1700s. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, kilts and bagpipes were outlawed, the pipes being classified as instruments of war.
The origins of the pipes in Scotland is uncertain. Some say it was a Roman import. Others believe that the instrument came from Ireland as the result of colonization.


The Acts of Proscription of 1716 and 1725 banned the speaking of Gaelic, the wearing of tartan, and the bearing of arms unless in service to the Crown. Bagpipes were never mentioned at all, nor are there any records of anyone ever being prosecuting for piping pursuant to the Acts. Bagpipes were banned in Ireland under Cromwell.
Bagpipes were called "an instrument of war" during the trial of Jacobite piper James Reid in York in 1715. Based upon that interpretation, he was convicted of armed rebellion against the Crown and executed.

QUOTE
The origins of the pipes in Scotland is uncertain.


As everyone knows, the Irish invented the bagpipes and gave them to the Scots.

The Scots never discovered the practical joke.



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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 24-Dec-2008, 12:11 PM
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I play a set of Peter Henderson pipes, L&M bag with a Hardie Blackwood chanter. I'm down to my last few MacAlister chanter reeds and use Ezee drone reeds. I was playing the Ross drone reeds but statrted have problems with them. I really like the ezee drone reeds for their sympicity and ease of set up. They are quite flexable when setting pitch anywhere from my Hardie at 440mhz to my plastic Dunbar at 450mhz. I haven't made the leap yet to a synthetic bag but I know when my L&M packs it in that I will deffinatelt try one.
I own a set of Budgie electronic pipes, it's ok but I wil be looking into a Redpipe for practice and some performanes. To see the Redpipe go to redpipes
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Blackdog 
Posted: 03-Jan-2009, 08:19 PM
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I play and perform on almost 20 different instruments,I am a full time musician,but no instrument has been quite as gratifying as the pipes.I was presented with a set of post WWII Hardies in vintage condition 12 years ago and have never wanted another set. Hardies were a bit inconsistent in quality control then, some poor, some not bad, some great! I received the latter.
I use Croziers in my Tenor drones, they seem to be the best suited,but my Bass will make some pipers cringe. After endless trials with various bass drones, and never satisfactory results, I attended a reed makers course for the Irish Uileann Pipes. Although different pipes, the principles of physics remain the same.What I learned there ,transferred to the Highlands. The end result,I took an old Henderson Bass drone (the originals were brutal), and made modifications to the sound chamber then set the tongue with a different density of plastic.
The end result was wonderful.
Cheers to all of you.
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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 04-Jan-2009, 08:07 AM
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Blackdog,
I had a similar problem with my wifes set of McCleod pipes. The tenor drones worked well no matter what type of reed we used but the bass was always difficult to strike in and often choked out when the chanter started. I always had to shave the tongue on the traditional bamboo reeds but this made the tone very course and consumed too much air. I could never get one of the Ross reeds to work but when I switched to the ezee drone reeds I was able to adjust the tongue and the adjuster on the end to control the air flow. thumbs_up.gif
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Blackdog 
Posted: 04-Jan-2009, 11:51 AM
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Piobmhorpiper,
I tried an Ezee drone for about 3 months, loved the sound,very warm,smooth! But it was always unstable, always on the edge of double toning, and would cut off sometimes when I'd strike in.....as much as I loved it when it worked, the instability was just too risky for some functions, things like weddings, funerals etc. where you have to strike in on cue ,and only have one shot to get it right. My present setup leaves nothing to chance.
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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 07-Jan-2009, 12:27 PM
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Blackdog,.
So far so good with the ezee drones, no choking on striking in. Perhaps as they age they may give me trouble. They were first recomended to me by my mentor and former Canadian Armed Forces Pipe Major Donald Whatley. He tried them when they first became available and still has a set in his pipes today.

I am going to learn to play the whistle and the Scottish Flute. I have my Great Grandfathers fiddle that I would dearly love to learn but I have not found anyone to teach me as yet. I do play guitar and the recorder, actually it was learning the recorder at an early age that made learning the pipes a snap for me.
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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 02-May-2009, 06:39 AM
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Some interesting facts and basics about tone and tuning of the GHB.

Few things are as obnoxious as an out-of-tune Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), or for that matter any untuned bagpipe. Bagpipes heard out-of-tune are the major reason why many people dislike the instrument. Out-of-tune pipes may lead to social unrest, dog bites, high gasoline prices and shortages of Prozac. Divorce lawyers consider badly tuned pipes money in the bank. If politicians were not categorically deaf, they long ago would have made it a felony to inflate a bagpipe in public without at least intending to tune it.

An in-tune bagpipe, on the other hand, is a sweet-sounding thing indeed, and therein lies a secret: Even a fledgling piper, who perhaps hasn't yet developed the swiftest of fingers, can make nice music that will please not only himself but others as well, if the pipe is but played in tune.

In its most basic form, a bagpipe consists of a melody pipe, called the chanter, which produces a series of different notes depending on which of its fingerholes are open and closed, and at least one drone pipe, which produces a single constantly-sounding note. The notes of the melody pipe must be in tune with each other, just as the notes of a piano or any other instrument must be in tune with one another, and additionally the note produced by the drone must be in tune with the chanter's notes. If the bagpipe has more than one drone, then obviously the additional drones must likewise be in tune both with one another and with the chanter.

The interplay between the melody notes sounding against the steady tones of the drone(s) creates an effect that is the defining characteristic of a bagpipe. It's a case of the sum being greater than the parts - a drone heard alone is hardly impressive, and most chanters played alone don't sound like much either. But put them together and all sorts of fabulous fireworks ensue - if they are in tune. This is because the sounds of an in-tune chanter and the drones reinforce one another in complex and dramatic ways. If they're not in tune, not only is this effect lost but a discordant noise, rather than music, is generated. It's a huge, huge difference.

But what does "in tune" mean? That simple term is loaded with all sorts of different meanings. In a very basic sense, it means that when individual musical tones are played in a sequence, one at a time as in a melody, they are perceived by the ear as having a pleasing or at least a logical relationship to one another. Likewise, when two or more tones are played simultaneously, as when strumming a chord on a guitar or when playing a bagpipe with its drones and chanter sounding, "in tune" again means that the tones have a pleasing effect together.

You can find more here http://www.hotpipes.com/tuning.html
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Blackdog 
Posted: 16-May-2009, 11:01 PM
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Dare I enter into the discussion on chanters and chanter reeds.What do people use?
Our band raised money several years ago to replace all our chanters,however rather than just follow other pipers or suppliers recommendations, we put it to the test of everyones ears.
In blind tests, the top pipers in the band were asked to come out and play in trios all with the same chanters, unknown to the rest of us, then they would leave ,return with another set and so on...the tuning was set up by our pipe major and some very highly skilled adjuticators. We never knew what they were playing or what reeds, we were simply given a code for each presentation.
This went on for several days,then at the end the votes were counted. The results might surprise some people. We ended up with Krone chanters and Warnoc reeds. This testing removed prejudices and valued the sound. We are constantly asked when performing what we are using, and alot of eyebrows are raised,but some of the best ears in the buisness agree we have a full clean sound, good volume, and a steady tone. We're not the Frasers but when all 18 of us are playing most will agree it is a wonderful sounding band.
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Robert Phoenix 
Posted: 17-May-2009, 12:18 AM
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Opinion please. I would love to learn to play the pipes but I've run into a couple of problems. My current problem is I don't know bagpipe quality aside from the higher the price the better. I've got that forty dollar crappy practice chanter that you can't get reeds for anywhere so I'm looking for a decent chanter so I can start relearning the fingering. No problem there. I can afford most of the chanters out there but from there I want I want to do is to first get a set of small practice pipes. I was looking at these but I would like someone who has had some experice to tell me if this is worth the money. Here is the link. Hope there is enough info.

http://thecelticcroft.com/Musical_Instrume...ipes_small.html


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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 17-May-2009, 09:05 AM
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QUOTE (Robert Phoenix @ 17-May-2009, 12:18 AM)
Opinion please. I would love to learn to play the pipes but I've run into a couple of problems. My current problem is I don't know bagpipe quality aside from the higher the price the better. I've got that forty dollar crappy practice chanter that you can't get reeds for anywhere so I'm looking for a decent chanter so I can start relearning the fingering. No problem there. I can afford most of the chanters out there but from there I want I want to do is to first get a set of small practice pipes. I was looking at these but I would like someone who has had some experice to tell me if this is worth the money. Here is the link. Hope there is enough info.

http://thecelticcroft.com/Musical_Instrume...ipes_small.html

Robert, I personally donot own a set of small pipes as yet. These particular pipes are made of Derlin plastic and will last a life time. The price is right and yes bonus you get a built in practice chanter. This is a good deal.

As for your first full set of pipes you will never go wrong with Dunbar Blackwood pipes. They do make in derlin as well (these are best suited to kids and our Cadet Corps up here plays them as well) they are sturdy and will stand up to rough handling.

Mounts and ferals are just for decoration and have no added value to tone quality. If you are looking for the best sounding quality drones lookin into pre 1972 Henderson. I say pre 1972 as Peter Henderson Died and Hardie bought out the company in 1972. This is what I play. I have a few different chanters that I use depending on the venue that I am playing. They are hard to come by and will cost quite a bit more than other makers. Other rare and good quality pipes are Robertson, McCleod, Hardie. All made in SCOTLAND.
Chanters are a personal choice when playing solo. Pipe bands will usually have a matched set of chanters and today most competing bands are using a chanter made of derlin.

Good luck with your selection and learning process.
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Blackdog 
Posted: 18-May-2009, 10:35 AM
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Robert, I would like to reinforce some things Piobmhorpiper noted. Early Hendersons are great and yes, don't get caught up in paying for things you don't need to start, like the decoration on the feruls.
There are some wonderful new pipes on the market at reasonable prices I will inquire with a well known adjuticator who is a friend of mine as to what he recommends, I know we just outfitted 5 young pipers with the same pipes, their first set, and they sound great. I can't recall what they are.
In terms of smallpipes I own and play several sets, the pipes you are looking at are a good deal, a wonderful addition to your learning tools. The biggest problem is tuning them, the soft synthetic reeds in such pipes are very touchy and the slightest movement up or down in the chanter seat will alter the tuning signifigantly. It is important to stay as close to correct pitch as possible as you will begin to train your ear to hear things properly right away.
My suggestion, buy a Korg Chromatic Tuning Metre to help you set them up and periodically monitor. As well be prepared to tape the upper half of some of the finger holes now and again to really refine the pitch. Smallpipes are touchy instruments. Go for it....it's great fun piping!
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piobmhorpiper 
Posted: 18-May-2009, 05:57 PM
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Robert I couldn't agree more with what Blackdog had to say. Small pipes are difficult to tune properly, but very fun to play and practice with. The pipes got their bad reputation from too many players, playing out of tune and playing poorly. Always look for an experienced tutor to help you out. Self learning is okay to a point but an experienced tutor is essential to mastering the instrument.
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Robert Phoenix 
Posted: 20-May-2009, 10:57 PM
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Sorry I didn't back sooner with a big thank you for all the info but life has been hectic! I think I will give those a try but its going to take a while to save up that kind of cash. In the long run I'm hoping to make enough money off of playing the small pipes (and guitar) to be able to afford the highland pipes.
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