After a bit of time away from any serious practise due to exams, work and the extraordinarily exhausting search for a set of new wheels to get me to work and other more exciting places ( a search that is nearly at an end), I finally was able to pick up my practice chanter tonight and run through a few of my tunes at a slow pace.
In the last few months I’ve been awfully busy with work and study. Now that the study part is temporarily out of the way, I can devote a little more time to my pipes, rather than just paddling along in maintenance mode.
I really need to learn to tune those pipes. Back to square one.
Frist, I tuned the tenor drones to each other. Then, I made sure that the two drones shut off at the same time when I apply maximum air pressure. That’s the easy part. The first recording below starts with the drones already tuned to each other, then I move them out of tune and back in. The change in sound from in-tune to out-of-tune to back in-tune is very noticeable.
Next, comes the bass drone. It is the most difficult for me. I have set the top section to expose about 10mm ( or 3/8 inch) of hemp, and the lower section started off with the being about two finger widths apart.
Not much has been happening here in recent weeks. Be assured, I’m paddling like crazy beneath the water’s surface. Most of my time has been taken up with exam preparations. This does not mean that I have thrown my chanter and pipes aside to collect dust. Far from it.
However, I am merely keeping afloat by going through the SOTs (same old tunes), on both pipes and chanter. Not much focus other than to ensure that timing and technique is improving, or at least not deteriorating too much, as it is wont to do at times.
Stay tuned. Normal programming will be resumed after June 18th.
As planned, I stuck to my three memorized tunes and kept working on these specifically this week. I am also playing them deliberately slower to make sure I don’t end up with squashed notes and movements. It’s beginning to pay off: they are a lot easier to play on the pipes now!
Interestingly, it is the tunes that I have memorized (or know well enough to almost have them memorized) that do not cause me to run out of air on the pipes. Hm…
I am still without a specific goal or plan, though…. not good. Need to fix.
I spent the first hour on the practice chanter going through six tunes, focusing on good execution and the beat , the latter is still not where it should be, though… Then, up went the pipes and I played through the same six tunes. While the performance was not flawless, it felt really good. The best so far. I almost danced along. It was a thoroughly enjoyable 30 minutes.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Chanter Reeds (RSPCR) have given me a serious talking to: do not drown your chanter reed! It is bad for the reed and will make it very very hard to play, and possibly ruin it for life.
Another lesson in the life of the beginning piper Fortunately, I was able to find one last low pressure reed in my collection of drowned, chipped and mouldy reeds, otherwise I would have had to suffer the medium pressure reeds.
Three new low pressure EZeePC reeds are on order. I hope that these will survive me a bit longer.
I am still limping along on just two tenor drones because of lack of time for tuning the bass drone. Once my assignments and exams are over, that will be my next challenge, which I am actually looking forward to!
First, two tenors being tuned. They are clearly out of tune during the first part of the recording, which is evidenced by a distinctive beating sound, then they come together as the beating sound becomes less distinctive and ultimately disappears, then I bring them out of tune again and then back into tune.
Next, I have followed the advice provided by the fine folks at Bob Dunsire’s Bagpipe forum. Plugging the middle tenor, I moved the top section of the bass drone to just show two lines of hemp. The lower section has been adjusted to accommodate just the breadth of two of my fingers. Leaving the top section alone, I moved the lower section up until I thought the beats disappeared. In the recording below, there is a subtle beat becoming apparent at about 22 seconds. That beat disappears at about 1.02 minutes. At this point the lower section is very low on the tuning pin, leaving just a finger’s breadth of space.