LOW F#!!

On Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry’s album, At First Light, they have a set, Lady Lane, Farewell to Whalley Range, Michael Russell’s, which ends with one of the coolest tunes you will ever hear. I’ve always wanted to figure out how to play it on the pipes (original recording is flute and uilleann pipes). I’ve recorded it with two other tunes (this is an all Irish music post) for your listening pleasure (listen before reading further, please):

Drops of Brandy and Michael Russell’s

Kitty Lie Over and Michael Russell’s (Kitty Lie Over is a tune I got from Mick O’Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh from their album, Kitty Lie Over)

Does the title of this post make sense now? We have long been plagued with only 9 notes (okay 11, maybe 12 if you really know what you’re doing). Who’s to say the lowest should be low G? The bagad bands in Brittany have long ago developed a chanter that instead of a low G played low F#. Their chanters (here’s an example) are designed to tune differently however, in that the drones are tuned up to B, meaning the offsets from ET usually used must be applied to one note higher than usual (I think). My drones here are obviously still tuned to low A and I’m not using a Bagad chanter. I’m using my Colin Kyo chanter with one of the tone holes taped over (you’ll notice the special bagad B chanters only have one tone hole).

I’ve known of this effect for quite some time, but never found a cool enough tune that for the most part only needed the low F# and not low G since you lose low G (in the original score there are some passing low E’s and low D’s but with a little rewrite they disappear). The sheet music I’ve derived for the tune can be downloaded here.

2 thoughts on “LOW F#!!

  1. Very exciting stuff Patrick! The tune and playing sounded great. The low F# takes you by surprise at first but you can really get into the swing. Next stop, low E ;)

  2. The chanter tuning starts getting pretty wonky with even one tone hole covered up. It seemed the low A went very sharp which wasn’t quite what I expected (this assumes I had the reed set correctly for normal playing) and the E goes quite flat. I know getting that low E really wonkifies the tuning of the other notes and may introduce some squealing.

    The thing now is to identify a few tunes I can do this with so the chanter has more use than just playing 1 tune!

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