Flat-Pitch Penny-Chanters Now Shipping
2 June 2009
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"Concert C# and C" flat Penny-Chanter and Budget Drones are now available and orders are accepted. Where flat pitch is not specified, all chanter, drone and set orders are made in the predominant Concert D pitch.

This first flat chanter offering is not the historic narrow bore, tiny tonehole flat chanters, but wider, louder chanters in the style of Concert D's but the lower pitch of the keys of C# and C. The drones are also wide bore drones. The chanter tone however has a some of the flat pitch tonal flavor, and the loudness while stronger than some narrow bore chanters is somewhat subdued compared to the concert D.

More details follow after some general information below.

The Daye Concert Style C# and C Flat Pitch Chanter and Drones

The Concert C# and C-Natural (wide-bore style) Penny-Chanters are in production and we're accepting orders for chanters and practice & half sets.

Since the original Concert D Penny-Chanter design was published free for experimenters and home builders, the data for C# and C chanters will be published on this web site during the coming month. Build-it-yourself booklets that we sell will be updated to include the information as well.

All 3 -- the original D plus C# and C-- have been fine tuned to accept the identical Concert D Penny-Chanter reed.

The Concert C Budget Drones have already been fine-tuned to accept the identical drone reeds as the Concert D Budget Drones but at the moment we're not taking new drone orders as we catch up from a variety of family issues that kept the shop shut down for several weeks.

This is a surprise outgrowth of final testing now underway for a completely traditional wood Daye Concert D chanter. It has proven to be a platform for testing that will jump-start the long-delayed Penny-Chanters in the historic narrow bore style, and completely traditional wooden Daye flat chanters of the various historic pitches.

Since the Daye drones were developed from historic flat-pitch narrow bore drones, they already have the historic flat-pitch tone, and both the chanter and drones have about 3/4 the Concert D loudness.

Introduction to "Flat Pitch" or "Narrow Bore" Chanters

The original uilleann pipes were invented nearly 300 years ago with a quiet, mellow sound that is gentle to the ears in small indoor settings. The popular "concert D" pipes are much more recent, only about 100 years old, appearing when pipe making had nearly died away. They were developed in America by the Taylors and more recently in Ireland by the Rowsomes for public performance in small stages and Vaudeville type settings. As the concert D's spread, the Narrow Bore pipes nearly vanished from awareness within Irish music and even modern piping circles. Today they are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. There are also several historic and scientific research efforts to recapture the understanding of their construction, design and adjustment, lost when all of the best makers eventually closed leaving no apprentices or records of methods.

The finger holes on the Narrow Bores are much smaller than those of the Concert D's which is part of the reason for the quieter sound. But when raising the chanter or lifting extra fingers, there can be a greater increase in sound and greater change in tone than when the same action is done on the Wide Bores. The Narrow Bore chanters have smaller diameter internal bores, as the name suggests, but the taper is also less and of a different shape, tending to increase less and less toward the bottom of the chanter. The small finger holes have less influence on the chanter than do the large holes of the Concert D chanters, therefore the internal bores are often more complex, showing more and larger adjustments than many Wide Bore chanters. The reeds are smaller, lighter and narrower. They can be more adaptable than Wide-Bore reeds. Some antique makes are known to accept the very same reed in Narrow Bore chanters of several different pitches. However the Narrow Bore reeds almost never play well in Wide Bore pipes.

Lovers of the antique style pipes regard the instruments as having a more sophisticated sound than the concert D's and as more dependable and easier to fit with reeds. Of course some prefer the Wide Bore tone.

CLICK HERE to read a more detailed article by Australian pipemaker Craig Fischer at the (Seattle USA) Irish Pipers' Club web site.

Origin of the Narrow-Bore Penny-Chanters

These Penny-Chanters began life in the form of an antique Harrington C# chanter owned by Kevin Rowsome, grandson of Leo Rowsome who was the last great pipemaker who had links to the renowned makers of the past. I had the privilege of measuring this chanter in detail in 1997 at the West Virginia Irish Week where I had lessons from Mr. Rowsome. The Harrington is evidently an extremely rare chanter. Craig Fischer, the world's leading researcher of uilleann pipes, says that only a very few are known to exist anywhere in the world. Several pipers have duplicated this specimen in fully traditional form and reported their copies to give an appealing sound and good performance. Although it is a thoroughly Narrow Bore design clearly more subdued than any of the modern Wide Bores, it has some modern leanings, including a very slightly wider bore and slighlty louder, brighter tone than the most antique types of Narrow Bores. This makes it an ideal introduction to the Narrow Bore family, suitable both for enjoying alone in the home or for playing in small acoustic ensembles indoors.

Construction & Sound Details

The construction, options, shipping times and costs are identical to the Original Penny-Chanter, including the the option of black plastic exterior for the same extra upgrade price as for the Original Penny-Chanter. The Original version shown in prototype form above uses the ivory-colored CPVC plastic exterior, with ivory CPVC plastic decorative rings, brass bell ferrule, and soldered brass windcap. The black Delrin exterior is an option available for the Narrow Bore Penny-Chanters just as it is for the original Wide Bore Penny-Chanter.

Narrow Bore Penny-Chanters are now playing in the original C# and also C-natural. All 3 are set at modern pitch, tuned to accept the exact same identical Concert D chanter reed for convenience of pipers as well as of the maker. Flatter chanters in B and B-flat are under early development, but those two will require their own separate reed design.

Sounds & Photos New March 2009

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Telephone Whidbey Island, Washington USA 360-679-8787 beginning 26 June.
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