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Better-sounding Bagpipe

As nice as a kilt on a summers day
 
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This bagpipe uses an oboe/flute/woodwind attatchment instead of the familiar blaring honk we're used to. The extraneous tubes out the back aren't here, as the only sound you hear is the constant humming melody of your favorite wind/woodwind instrument. Ahhhh!
ophello, Sep 27 2005

A440..... http://www.sabre-ro...ndex.php?title=A440
[not_morrison_rm, Jan 20 2012]

[link]






       How could a bagpipe *possibly* sound better?
DrCurry, Sep 28 2005
  

       With a flue attatched? C'mon now, you think it would sound anything like it used to???
ophello, Sep 28 2005
  

       The best sounding bagpipe is that one which is not played.
bristolz, Sep 28 2005
  

       Maybe with a flue, the sound could be ducted away.
Ling, Sep 28 2005
  

       I was at a wedding recently, with the reception room being quite 'cosy' and a dancefloor with space enough for 10 couples maximum. Ok, there were loads more- but it was more shuffling than dancing. Anyway, the band stop and I could see a piper standing at the door. Here we go I thought - I like the bagpipes, but indoors? In this room? That's nuts!   

       I was not prepared for the Monty Python-esque scene that followed:
Band-master:"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to invite...
The Royal Northern Constabulary Pipe Band!"
  

       1... 2... 3... 17 pipers, 1 base drum and a band leader later...
[[[WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA]]]
Jinbish, Sep 28 2005
  

       There are many different forms of the bagpipe, and they all sound different. The familiar Scottish pipes (my least favourite) which tend to provoke such disdain do so not so much because of the timbre of the note but because they're not capable of playing absolutely in tune (for reasons far too complex to go into); the piper in the Battlefield Band (whose name escapes me) developed a system which enabled them to do so, and incurred the wrath of pipers the world over. The Northumbrian small-pipes have a much sweeter tone, as do the Irish uillean pipes (uillean means 'elbow'); both of these are bellows-blown, unlike the mouth-blown Scottish, Cornish and (some) Breton pipes. Most European bagpipes are also mouth-blown.
The principal influence on the timbre of a pipe is the shape of the pipe itself - I know of no bagpipe having other than a cylindrical or a conical bore - but a common reason for disliking the pipes is that they're just so damn' loud! There's no way for the player to control the volume because he needs the bag to blow hard enough to make the reed speak; an oboist can control volume by lip pressure on the reed, but a piper obviously cannot. The bombard is an instrument with a similar shortcoming in that the reed is placed in a box (called a reed-cap) and is inaccessible to the player. What you're describing here is simply a bagpipe with no drones (the uillean pipes can be played with the drones not speaking) and with the chanter (the melody pipe) resembling an oboe or clarinet; such pipes already exist, but they'll still be louder than you want.
Also, Alan Stivell, the Breton harper and piper, has a set of pipes which trigger a MIDI synthesizer, so he can make them sound like pretty much anything. They're still loud though.
angel, Sep 28 2005
  

       //Better sounding bagpipe// is one of those oxymoronic nonsensical phrases, like "tastier cow-pat" or "more attractive SUV".
Unless "sounding" is used in the sense of "tied to a string and used to gauge the depth of water below a ship".
coprocephalous, Sep 28 2005
  

       // How could a bagpipe *possibly* sound better? //
when the gaels are charging over the hills to finish off the anglos and its blaring the mournful whine of their demise.
schmendrick, Sep 29 2005
  

       //There's no way for the player to control the volume //   

       Can't they make a mute for it? (I envision a large hair-dryer like cone that fits completely around the instrument and the player.)
phundug, Sep 29 2005
  

       Well said. I still think that the concept of "babpipe" can be applied to any wind instrument, resulting in a sound I've never heard.
ophello, Sep 30 2005
  

       [Murdoch] Just because I'm of >50% Scottish ancestry and married (in Scotland) to a Scot, doesn't mean I actually have to like the bloody things. They wouldn't scare the pants off me, but they would give me a better idea which way to aim my MAC-10 in the mist and gloom (or should that be "gloaming"?)
coprocephalous, Sep 30 2005
  

       //when the gaels are charging over the hills to finish off the anglos//   

       WTF?   

       And as an oboe player, [ophello] I can confidently say that attaching one to a set of bagpipies would not in any way whatsoever improve the sound of the instrument.
salachair, Sep 30 2005
  

       I like them in parades, and at funerals.
blissmiss, Sep 30 2005
  

       I like bagpipes. esp. moving at funerals   

       OmG Bliss, you read my mind, or I yours!
dentworth, Sep 30 2005
  

       Well, I like them most of the time; Scottish, Irish, Cornish, Breton, Northumbrian, whatever. You very rarely hear pipes played badly because they're so damn' difficult to play at all that if the player's not much good, no sound comes out.
angel, Sep 30 2005
  

       //WTF?//
wtf? this is politically correct now that the ira's disarmed.
schmendrick, Sep 30 2005
  

       //The familiar Scottish pipes (my least favourite) which tend to provoke such disdain do so not so much because of the timbre of the note but because they're not capable of playing absolutely in tune (for reasons far too complex to go into); the piper in the Battlefield Band (whose name escapes me) developed a system which enabled them to do so, and incurred the wrath of pipers the world over.//   

       As an intonation geek, I'd love to hear those complex reasons. "In tune" doesn't mean the same to everyone; in the context of bagpipes, the most obvious meaning to me is that the pitches are consonant with the drone, which implies a simple just intonation scale.   

       The seventh degree is a little problematic, as 7/4 (used, my favourite), 16/9 (not used, to my knowledge), and 9/5 (used) are all valid candidates.   

       I'm aware that the 2nd, 4th and 7th degrees of the Scottish bagpipe chanter have varied with time and place, and that some of the values used are not the most consonant possible (and therefore "out of tune"), and I've even found a reference for a flattish 8th degree, but I thought that was for reasons of tradition and taste, not because of any inherent quality of the instrument. Do they have inharmonic overtones or something?   

       Valved instruments, and those that use cross fingerings, have inherent problems with being played in tune (for any definition of "in tune"), for complex reasons involving degrees of freedom and non-distributive interactions; do bagpipes have similar limitations?   

       As to the idea, it's been thoroughly baked in many forms since at least the early Middle Ages. It would be fun to try with modern instruments, but that's also been done. As mentioned, putting a bag or bladder between the player's mouth and the instrument takes away the ability to control the reed etc. with the lips, and in most cases the instrument's mouthpiece needs to be redesigned.   

       Making sweet and mellow bagpipe-like instruments is a noble goal. I've tinkered along those lines myself; although I dearly love the more pungent varieties too.
spidermother, Jan 19 2012
  

       // Making sweet and mellow bagpipe-like instruments is a noble goal. //   

       Agreed. The best means seems to be a small bonfire.   

       // I've tinkered along those lines myself; although I dearly love the more pungent varieties too. //   

       Presumably the pungency adds to the flavour of the food cooked over said bonfire ?
8th of 7, Jan 19 2012
  

       [spidermother], one idea that I have heard scholars suggest is that the old Gaelic bagpipe music is based on contrast between consonant notes/passages and dissonant notes/passages. So you can use unison, 3rd, 5th, as extreme consonances against the drone; the 2nd and 4th can be contrasting dissonances. This doesn't work so well if the 4th is a consonant 4/3 so it was often in the past made a little sharper to 'detune' it.   

       The Battlefield band btw also uses guitars and keyboards, so I assume that "in tune" in that context means "equal-tempered tuning". I'm not sure how the Red Hot Chilli Pipers tune their pipes, I know they are pitched at A440 but they may retain the usual just intonation.
pocmloc, Jan 19 2012
  

       Finally!!! An idea that neatly employs thousands of unsold vuvuzelas! [+]
Grogster, Jan 19 2012
  

       I thought that might be the reason. (I've come across a 27/20 fourth, which is consonant with the 9/5 7th, but not with the drone). Medieval pythagorian tuning gives a similar, stark contrast between the consonant (octave, fifth, fourth, second) intervals and the dissonant (third, sixth) ones, which is part of the essential character of some music of the period.   

       //The Battlefield band btw also uses guitars and keyboards, so I assume that "in tune" in that context means "equal-tempered tuning".// If so, then I have no respect for them whatsoever. I've also combined guitars and keyboards with non-ET instruments, but I used an appropriate tuning for the keyboard or soft synth., and a slide guitar. Equal temperament with a drone instrument? Aaahg!
spidermother, Jan 19 2012
  

       Anyone who desires to hear a sweeter, more mellow bagpipe should look into the Uillean, an Irish bagpipe that for complicated historical reasons can only be played sitting down.   

       That said, this entire post is spurious, being based on the allegation that bagpipes are not the finest innovation of wind instruments in existence today. This is tacitly untrue and offensive. Good day to you all.
Alterother, Jan 19 2012
  

       Oh no, he's been at the metal polish again ...
8th of 7, Jan 19 2012
  

       Please stop talking about yourself in the 3rd person, it is most unbecoming.
pocmloc, Jan 19 2012
  

       what DrCurry said   

       //pitched at A440 but they may//   

       A440? I thought it sounded familiar. I drove on it many times. How come it's not in Scotland?
not_morrison_rm, Jan 20 2012
  
      
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