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Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

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.. Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Robbie.Crow on Mon 18 Feb - 0:34:09

This might seem like a strange question, but it actualy came out of a
talk i was having with my teacher - john mckail - one night at
band.

In the last week, i have been listening to the old recordings i have
from the 60s & 70's and also listening to older ones on the net.
All of these recordings were made before tuners were out, therefore the
bands in them had to rely on ear for tuning. BAck in those days, you
could tell who a specific band was from a mile away, why? Because they
produced a specific sound to the pipe majors ear. Today, you mite be
able to tell the difference by the tunes they play, but all of the pipe
bands sound the same in this day and age, there is very little
variation in pitch between pipes. Drums, are just as bad, okay you have
all your different makes, andante, premier and pearl etc, but they are
all tuned to near enough the same pitch.

What would happen if tuners were to self distruct tomorrow? No tuners
left, do you think this modern age pipe band world would survive?
Personaly, i dont! The days where you could tell a band by their sound,
and sound alone are passed, and that is a sad thing in my opinion.

Thoughts? Opinions?
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by bondy on Mon 18 Feb - 10:11:39

FM would still be at the top of the pile, the combo of Richard Parks and Frank Andrews is prob the one of the best on the planet they don't really need a tuner!
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Gordy88 on Mon 18 Feb - 12:42:57

Bang on Bondy,

Top players don't need a tuner, they may elect to use one, but they don't need it.

They are a convenience when tuning drones and the like, but to be brutally honest, a good piper should be able to do it by ear. And in my opinion, you're not a piper till you can do these things.

Top players should be, and generally are able to tune drones to chanter, and chanter to drones, finding notes that are sharp or flat up and down the scale.

What tuners do, is greatly improve the tuning ability of lesser quality bands, generally lower grade bands have lesser players, and blowers, and as such can be improved in a more dramatic fashion.

On the whole, they have done away with a lot of the awful bands we used to hear, listen to a grade 4 band, not even a prize winning one, and you will generally hear drones in reasonable tune, and chanters not too shabby either,

For the geriatrics amongst us, cast your ear back 25 years, some of the sound was horrific.

To me, they are a useful tool, but like synthetic drone reeds and bags, whilst a very useful item, they are not the be all and end all, why else have the top bands gravitated back to naturals.

Good post Robbie, Nice to see you're thinking

piper
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Redneck on Mon 18 Feb - 21:06:14

Gordy88 wrote:

For the geriatrics amongst us, cast your ear back 25 years, some of the sound was horrific.



piper

Hmm The RAMS, The Graham Memorial, R.U.C, SPPB, St Patrick's.........aye m8....pissh. Ha ha
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Redneck on Mon 18 Feb - 21:09:29

bondy wrote:FM would still be at the top of the pile, the combo of Richard Parks and Frank Andrews is prob the one of the best on the planet they don't really need a tuner!

Sorry m8.
Disagree..........they ARE the best...barr none. Pint
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by stormy on Mon 18 Feb - 21:15:35

Redneck wrote:The RAMS, The Graham Memorial, R.U.C, SPPB, St Patrick's.........aye m8....pissh.

Yer right pal, some people have short memories!

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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Gordy88 on Mon 18 Feb - 21:16:47

Redneck wrote:
Gordy88 wrote:

For the geriatrics amongst us, cast your ear back 25 years, some of the sound was horrific.



piper

Hmm The RAMS, The Graham Memorial, R.U.C, SPPB, St Patrick's.........aye m8....pissh. Ha ha

Not that lot, lol

some of the lower grade stuff was what i meant, Laughing
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by stormy on Mon 18 Feb - 21:40:40

Robbie.Crow wrote:What would happen if tuners were to self distruct tomorrow? No tuners
left, do you think this modern age pipe band world would survive?
Personaly, i dont!

Personally, I don't agree. Of course pipe bands would survive.
There would obviously be a big problem with those who have grown up to use a tuner and not their ear, but that comes down to them learning the basics of the instrument. It is quite obvious that many consider the use of an electronic tuner as an essential in the world of piping today. They are wrong.

If, as you suggest, tuners were to be thrown away then one thing would happen. We would get back to the good old fashioned days when a G1 band would be recognised for it's sound. No bad thing in my opinion.
Lower grade bands using a tuner are not learning to use the ear. They are learning to accept the tuner as definitive. Is the tuner set to "perfect pitch" if the batteries have been in for a while?

I am not an advocate of tuners until such time as you can tune the pipes by ear.

They do have their use however. The NYPB recently gave a concert as part of Celtic Connections and had something like 30 pipers on stage. The tone was excellent and very steady throughout. I very much doubt that the PM could have managed such a result on his own. The fact that the "sound team" was thanked at the end of the performance bears this out.
Tuners are an "aid" and for such a large amount of players, but, as in this case with the number of pipers, is acceptable. They should however be banned from competition work (solo and band) and when that happens you will start to hear that which you believe to be lost........the BAND sound rather than the TUNER sound.

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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Redneck on Mon 18 Feb - 22:10:16

Some good points there Stormy m8, but, as I see it 'n the way we use it. The pitch is predetermined via StevieB's, Iain's or my own OR any other chanter that has the clarity 'n sound he desires.

Therefore it's our sound not the Tuner..........the tuner is only used to speed up drone tuning not set our chanters, this is done by ear, if I hear something my side of the band I'll nod to Stevie 'n visa versa.

The tuner is an aid 'n should be used as such........not be classified as the holy grail.
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Redneck on Mon 18 Feb - 22:12:09

Gordy88 wrote:

Not that lot, lol

some of the lower grade stuff was what i meant, Laughing[/quote]

Aye a know m8, just wanted da see ya bite.......... raspberry
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by stormy on Mon 18 Feb - 22:24:51

Redneck wrote:Some good points there Stormy m8, but, as I see it 'n the way we use it. The pitch is predetermined via StevieB's, Iain's or my own OR any other chanter that has the clarity 'n sound he desires.

Therefore it's our sound not the Tuner..........the tuner is only used to speed up drone tuning not set our chanters, this is done by ear, if I hear something my side of the band I'll nod to Stevie 'n visa versa.

The tuner is an aid 'n should be used as such........not be classified as the holy grail.

True m8 and I take your point. The pipes (or a pipe) are set up first and a reading taken. That reading is then set for that particular player blowing at a certain strength. Fine for a G1 / G2 or maybe the odd G3 band, but what about the youngsters who are all over the place with their blowing? What happens when one set of pipes are flatter than the next and need a bit longer to come up to pitch?
Some band members will have played at home between practices and some will not have done so. Setting ALL pipes to one with a tuner does not make sense to me until the individual instruments have settled and the the "fine" tuning comes into play.

As for speeding up drone tuning.....I can recall Maclellan tuning up the band by ear within a 4 parted 6/8 and yet today I see bands playing for ages and the "sound men" only halfway through the pipes corp!!

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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Gordy88 on Tue 19 Feb - 1:57:08

Stormy wrote about 'learning the basics of the instrument'

He couldnt be more right, the problem is that there are a generation of pipers who have not done so, they cant tune drones, or chanters, they cant pick good drone reeds, or get them going properly.

But they can play the disco stuff pretty well, and they talk a good tune. waffling on about writing a 13/3 after 3 months with a tutor, that sort of rubbish

There may be a problem for the future here, but nearly all the top bands are back to naturals, and have a better sound because of it, albeit with a bit more work, so as these players move into top bands they can be educated as they mature.

I hope,
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by Reid on Tue 19 Feb - 19:08:56

I don't think it's a measure of the tuner. How many bands are using the same set up and shooting for similar pitch? (ie McCallum band chanter with a Ross reed) It's hard to have a different sound with simillar set ups.
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

Post by bondy on Fri 22 Feb - 1:11:15

Some great points here, one thing I have found a tuner very good for ,( the band I am with is full of youngsters), as such they feel the need to tamper with their reeds etc rather than address the fact they don't blow steady! I get a mirror and show them the tuner for them and a steady blower so for that reason alone they are good.

Sorry m8.
Disagree..........they ARE the best...barr none.

Redneck I am trully sorry best bar none m8.
I always remeber seeing Viccy Polis and the drone police showed how it should be done chanters done by ear reading taken and all the drones tuned quickly then work on the chanters while the drones were constantly pulled in.
In conclusion a great aid that has improved the overall sound of pipe bands but no substitue for a great ear!!
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.. Re: Instriment Tuners: Have they ruined pipe bands?

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