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Bridging the Gap Between Old and New Chanters

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Do you need to buy a new chanter to play with a band?  Can your old chanter match the new poly band chanters?  Can a band sound amazing with all different chanters?

Andrew has a surprising answer to this question.

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Video Transcription:

"The band mostly plays new plastic pipes and chanter, and tunes to X," okay, "new member, playing 1973 blackwood pipes and chanter, tunes to X minus 20." Okay, so they have an older chanter and it's really low in pitch, "Assuming everyone is playing at the sweet spot for their pipes and reeds are new and all at the same level of difficulty, what can a new member do to bridge the gap besides get a new chanter?" Okay, so that makes a lot of sense. "Trying to tune low A to the band means that the high A is way out of tune." Amen, absolutely true.

Okay, first thing, they got to get a new chanter. There's a big belief out there that a band should have all matching chanters, okay? I don't believe that. I think you could have a band that sounds amazing with all mismatched chanters, however, they all have to be the same pitch, meaning when the reed is correctly balanced, like generally speaking the low A and the high A are playing the same pitch and they're in tune with each other, they need to be in tune.

What you would find is, if you took a G1 chanter that was made in the last three years and a G1 chanter that was made in the last three years and a Shepherd chanter that was made in the last three years and whatever other chanters, Colin Kyo and stuff like that, I think you would probably find you could tune all those chanters that were made in the last three years to sound really, really nice together, okay? You don't need to have perfectly matching chanters to sound really good. However, in this case, the 1973 chanter guy has got to buy a new chanter or the band can buy one for him.

I think most bands eventually end up biting the bullet and buy chanters that belong to the band so that when new people come along, they can have a matching one, right? That's the bottom line. There's no way to fix that problem, certainly not from 1973. If it was from 2003, you might be able to drill out the bottom to get a 2003 chanter to come up, but again, you don't want to carve a chanter to a million pieces, right? Yeah, just get a new chanter, piece of cake.

Now, meanwhile, the other thing that really bothers me is assume everyone is playing at the sweet spot for their pipes. You can never assume that. I play in what's currently the world's best band. I can tell you not everyone in our band plays perfectly at the sweet spot, so never assume that. That bugs me. That's something we all need to continuously work on. We never assume that we're ... Don't get me wrong, I mean, everyone in our band sounds great when they play, but to be perfectly at the sweet spot, as an assumption, is always a big mistake. That's the only other thing I wanted to add in.

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Andrew Douglas Andrew is a prolific practitioner of the bagpipe, having been active at the highest level of pipe bands, solo competition, teaching, and creative endeavors for the past 20 years. He's also the founder and creator of Dojo U and of PipersDojo.com

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