Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Practice Chanter Practice

Musical instrument geekery:Today: practice chanter arrived! After getting it home (and a quick nap first - was really tired for some reason), I had my first practice session! Unfortunately, while disassembling it for cleaning afterwards, I unravelled the reed-assembly, and it doesn't seem to want to come back together. I don't know if I attached it too firmly into the chanter or if it's just cheap (Amazon'com's reviews suggest that while this chanter is ok, the reed assembly is bollocks - oredered a few different kinds of replacements to see what the others are like).

Thoughts on playing it:

  • The fingering will take some learning. I was starting to get used to it by the end of the session - the scales were going ok and with a good amount of fumbling I could handle simple songs.
  • Breathing is a major challenge. The only other woodwind instrument I've played to any level was recorder (middle school), and the breathing was relatively simple. Here, the amount of air can change the tone almost a note in either direction (and the loudness at the same time), with the upper end causing the reed to jam and ending the sound). The reed seems to easily slip into some degenerate state where it's playing some other tone entirely if I'm not careful with control of airflow (some of this may be the cheap reed). I used a tuner app on my phone to learn the right level of air.
  • It's tiring! Maybe this is to be expected for someone whose music experiences are more tied to piano plus stringed instruments - that amount of air is not easy to generate continually. If I stick with this and get a bagpipe sometime down the road, I'm sure that'll be harder yet - time to toughen up!
  • The fingering (in terms of what parts of the hand fit over the holes) is neat - apparently I was supposed to be doing that all along with recorder, but they never taught us.
  • I was very pleased at how much better the end-of-the-session sounds were from my first attempts to make noise.
Useful links I found for the practice chanter:
  • On chanter reeds - I don't know if much of this applies to practice chanters.
  • General scholl stuff on that site - Haven't done more than skim this stuff after my first practice, but it looks good
  • Basic fingering - Learned where the fingers go and G scale here. I had to convert the text-y description on how to do this into a chart.

At this point, I'm not sure if I'll stick with the chanter or eventually go on towards bagpipes, but that uncertainty is not a surprise. I'd like to have some woodwind instrument in the end - if I don't stay on the chanter-bagpipe path, I'll probably buy a nice flute or recorder (I'll buy a nicer chanter if I stick with this).

I'm still trying to decide between String Bass (what I really want) and Violin (more practical) for a stringed instrument to have right now. So far this means longing looks at instruments in online stores.


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