Monthly Archives: February 2012

MacPherson’s with HHD tenors and a CPc bass

I done be getting tired of typing Henderson Harmonic Deluxe (HHD). So, I thought the Ezee tenors from the previous post were kinda hard to tune together. I probably don’t have them set exactly the same, but, tedious nonetheless. So, back in went the HHD tenors but I wanted to try a less, how shall we say, “ominous?” bass than the Crozier glass so in went the Canning polycarbonate (CPc) tongue bass reed. I think it’s a good sound. The first 3 tunes below were sight read as I haven’t memorized them yet, the remainder are up in my brain somewhere. Chanter tuning was in and out on F and C, my bad. Also found a new piece of software called MP3 Trimmer which is awesome! Trim MP3’s without reencoding them, how sweet is that? If you haven’t yet, you need to buy Gordon Duncan’s Tunes and A Few Tunes – And Mair. These are great music books, the best I’ve bought since Philharmonic, which you should buy too if you haven’t already (which Murray Blair doesn’t seem to sell direct so just pick it up from your local supplier). Also note, I’m going to try and start putting composer’s names in () so if you know one leave a comment please!

Angus MacKenzie of Dumbarton (Wm. McKelvie) and Caber Feidh (jig)

The Flying Scotsman (David Barnes), Brain Fart (my brain), Fleshmarket Close (Michael Grey), The Korgi (John Walsh)

Kate Martin’s Waltz, P.M. Donald MacLeod, Hen’s March

Of course, I’m using a Colin Kyo chanter as usual!

EDIT: The version of Fleshmarket Close I played was from sheet music from my days at Lyon College. Went over to check out Michael Grey’s blog and he recently released the book that contains the tune, which can be found here. Awesome, Michael you’re the bomb!

Okay Okay, MacPherson’s with Ezeedrone reeds already

I got a lot of comments about the last big post and a bunch of people keep telling me Ezeedrone reeds would sound great. So, I put them in and here are a couple of recordings. Before we get to that though, I’d like to note a few things. I think they are very finicky and hard to lock-in. I’ve got both tenors set to shut off when over blown. I’ve spent more time with these than any other commercially available set and it just drives me nuts how long it takes me to tune them. I’m going to have to modify the hemp job on the pipes to make micrometer movements of the drones easier. I’ll also note that I am not the steadiest blower. You’ll notice at the end of each recording I hit low A, squeeze the bag a little, but obviously not up to pressure, because the drones sound out of tune. I think they sound fine during the playing and even at the beginning of the Kalabakan set I sit on low A before starting and it sounds reasonable, but as I let the pressure drop their pitch changes drastically, which is part of them problem I have with tuning them: I can’t blow rock steady, yet. So I’m on the fence, they have a nice sound, but I need something that doesn’t respond to minute pressure variations and tunes quickly. Though, you can really here them ring on the strathspey/reel set. To not bore you to death I picked some tunes I haven’t played in a while, ze chunes:

Kalabakan and Famous Bridge

Orange and Blue, Conway’s Farewell, Kelsey’s Wee Reel

Reeding the MacPherson’s! and playing at A440 yo.

So, I’ve got the chanter stock tied in a little higher and with a bit more string now so things are coming together pretty well with the MacPherson’s. I’ve got one of my 3 ABW Colin Kyo chanters plugged in there. The D is a little flat so sorry about that. But, below you’ll find tons of recordings of me trying to find the right drone reeds or trying some prototypes again. In all it was a lot of fun but a lot of work too. The first recording you’ll find is of just various drone reeds and combinations between them. The recording conditions were all the same, in the bedroom, same spot, pitch, so, ya know, take it how you will.

All the drone reeds in this order:

crozier glass – redwood – crozier carbon – crozier carbon tenors and canning carbon bass – selbie – henderson harmonic deluxe – henderson harmonic deluxe tenors and canning carbon bass – ezeedrone – ezeedrone tenors with canning polycarb bass – colin kyo – kinnaird – ackland – ackland tenors with crozier glass bass – selbie tenors with crozier glass bass?(i forgot to specify in the recording = my best guess)

cg_rw_cc_cb_sb_hh_hc_ez_ec_ck_kd_ak_ag_sg <- Sound file

What’s your favorite from the sound file above?

I really thought the Selbie tenors sang out really well (I know them for this quality, played Selbie’s in my Hende’s for years) and the Crozier glass fiber bass was pretty rocking so I tried that out, as can be heard in the closet recordings below. But…

Crozier glass bass, Selbie tenors, CK chanter

Deer Forest and Helen Black of Inveran (played as a march then reel)

Song for Winter and The Old Chanter

The High Drive and The Snuff Wife (sight reading, back off!)

I couldn’t really get the Selbie tenors to settle. Their tendency to ring is well suited to mellow pipes like Shepherd’s and the like but it was just too much and I couldn’t get them dialed in really well. You can particularly notice this on my slightly out of tune E. So, I thought the sound of the Henderson Harmonic Deluxe tenors was pretty good to (used them in the past), as they are nice and smooth with still some good harmonic presence without the boldness the Selbie’s display so in they went, and I thought it went really well. Only got one decent recording though, then it was time for bed.

Crozier glass bass, Henderson Harmonic Deluxe tenors, CK chanter

Campbell’s Farewell to Red Castle, A Dram Before You Go, Glasgow Police Pipers

I had to go bind my dissertation and that took a lot less time than I thought so instead of parking, walking 15 minutes back to work for only a couple hours, walking back, etc. I figured I’d play the bagpipes! Duh! Checked the mail box on the way in and saw a package from Terry Ackland with a new set of tenors in there so figured, why not?! He sent me a bass reed not too long ago so you get to hear all three in the recordings below. I was having trouble getting the bass dialed in so I left it at one recording and I switched to my Crozier glass fiber bass from the other night (recordings above) and those are even further below. Gotta say, I wait in anticipation for the final product of Terry’s reeds because they really throw out some harmonics! Which coincidentally, make it all the more obvious my D is out of tune, bleh. Cut me some slack, I’m fiddling with drones not chanters here! These were recorded in the bedroom adjacent to the walk-in closet mentioned above.

Ackland bass and tenors, CK chanter

Fair Maid, Gravel Walk, Dick Gossip’s

Crozier glass bass, Ackland tenors, CK chanter

Kenneth MacDonald’s Jig, Thief of Lochaber, I Laid a Herring in Saut

Scarce o’ Tatties, Humours of Ballyloughlin, Troy’s Wedding

As with the Gellaitry’s, I had to give the MacPherson’s their run through at A440 with my EJ Jones chanter. A lot of the tunes above are duplicated below. Recordings were done in the closet. I have a whole lot of respect for border pipers, pressure variability and getting in tune is tricky!

Wygent A440 drone reeds, Jones A440 chanter

Song for Winter, The High Drive, The Hawk

Snuff Wife, Sleepy Maggie x2, Dancing Feet x2

Campbell’s Farewell to Red Castle and Helen Black of Inveran

D. MacPherson Bagpipes!

My first brand new wood pipe purchase finally arrived in the mail today. The wait was about 4.5 months from order to ship. Then they spent another month in the mail between Bulgaria and Lubbock. The are a set of Doug MacPherson‘s pipes of african blackwood with boxwood ferrules, ringcaps, and bushes with blackwood rounded projecting mounts; the whole set is plain turned. The chanter also has a boxwood sole. These drones sound big! A clip of me trying to get a good drone recording is here:

MacPherson with Crozier Glass drone reeds

The chanter is also quite good and on the flatter side from where I’m used to playing. It came in around 475-6 Hz. The high G is a little sharp in the recording below (hence the tape that was added later before the pictures below were taken) and the low A a little sharp as well, but with a reed with 2 corners missing, there’s just not a whole lot to judge except the idiot playing a reed with 2 corners missing. This recording is with the MacPherson chanter with said Gilmour reed, with only tape on the low A to bring it down a little, so the recording is quite accurate as regards to the natural tuning of the MacPherson chanter without being muddled with a lot of tinkering. Which I think says a lot because it’s all very close. Note, the small Gannaway bag was a little leaky when these recordings were made (it is now draining Gannaway seasoning in the bath tub). Some reels I’m fooling around with: Sleepy Maggie ‘backwards’ from Scots Guards, Dancing Feet in G inspired by Seudan followed by Dancing Feet a la regulare. Kinda of a build up thingie madoodle: E, F, G, A.

Sleepy Maggie x2 + Dancing Feet x2

My last few sets in Houston, whew!

Not a whole lot to this post. As with the previous post, I’m featuring videos recorded in Houston that I’ve posted to YouTube. I think sometimes I over use tunes a bit on this blog so I’m trying to reach around for some stuff I haven’t played in a while, which necessitates that I make mistakes. As usual, Gellaitry pipes, Colin Kyo pipe chanter, Kinnaird drone reeds, and a Gilmour chanter reed. Maybe you’ll find a tune you like?

74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh, The Rock, Scotsaire Hornpipe, Old Chanter

Balmoral Castle, Couple Strathspeys, Iron Man, Lady Doll Sinclair (the last one is a finger twister!)

Rocking the Baby, The Panda, Rob’s Shower Shabang

Sleep Dearie Sleep, Empty Quiver, Hilton McLaurin’s Jig, Latisha McLaurin (last three are my compositions and can be found here)