Here are some WAV files (11 kHz, 8 bits, 130KB each) demonstrating the effect of different chanter tunings on the sound of the drone/chanter combination. The sound files were re-synthesized from anechoic recordings of my not-too-carefully-set-up pipes (last-legs MacLellan reed in Naill chanter, plastic Shepherd reeds in Naill drones). The synthesis isn't hi-fi, but the frequency ratios are quite precise.
The three tunings are:
Each sound file consists of the following tuning phrase played in the tuning indicated.
Click on the tuning name in the table to hear it.
|Note name||cents above
To my ears, C and F seem particularly wretched in ET, high and low G seem smoothest in Harmonic. Other differences might be more noticable if a wider bandwidth were used.
Dave Keenan, a fellow member of the The Alternate Tuning Internet Mailing List, was interested to know if pipers had ever tried a purely harmonic tuning scheme, in which each chanter note corresponds to a harmonic of a hypothetical "contrabass" drone, three octaves below low A. The scale which I have called Harmonic above has this property if the D is sharpened to 11/8, and the F(#) flattened to 13/8. These ratios sound good with the drones, but the scale is clearly not the one we pipers use.
Other pages of potential interest:
Ewan Macpherson, Nov 1998