Fine Tuning the Chanter to the Drones

Tuning your drones to the chanter is not a matter of having a good ear; it's a matter of practicing the tuning technique in the correct manner. You have to start operating with the mind set that you can tune your bagpipe, without relying on your teacher or Pipe Major. This is achieved, as in everything else with practice, practice, and more practice.

In the article about using an electronic tuner , we looked at rough tuning the Pipe Chanter's Low A, E and High A to the Drones using a Korg TM-50 Tuner . Review and practice these steps so that you are starting with your drones rough tuned to the pipe chanter. Now let's refine this sound. It is important before continuing that you have followed the steps for Rough Tuning and are starting with the outside tenor and chanter almost in tune (see "Tuning the Drones" article) . Shut off the middle tenor and the bass drone. Play Low A and listen to the blending of sound between the outside tenor drone and the pipe chanter, ask yourself is the drone in tune or not? If you are not sure and are wondering if the sound can be improved, try this. Blow slightly harder. Did this improve the tuning? If it did, move the drone top section up slightly on the tuning slide. If blowing harder did not improve the tuning, ease off on the blowing. Does this improve the sound? If it did, move the drone top section down on the tuning slide.

The rule to follow is:
Blow Harder - Move The Drone UP.
Blow Softer - Move The Drone Down.


Once you have the outside tenor in tune with the bagpipe chanters you are now ready to tune the bass to the outside tenor. (This is where you must blow with a very steady pressure) . Play High A. You are playing the High A only to give the drones a steady flow of air, don't listen to the chanter, focus on the tenor and bass drones. Adjust the bass up or down on the bottom tuning slide until the beating between the two drones blends into one solid sound. Now open the middle tenor. Continue to blow a steady High A. Focus on the drones, not on the chanter, move the middle tenor up or down on the tuning slide until it blends in with the other two drones. By following these steps you should be able with practice to achieve the sound of one big drone







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