Keywork

We have been specialists in fitting keywork to bagpipe chanters for many years, for those pipers who want to play notes which are not available on the standard chanter with it's nine note scale. On the Border pipes where cross fingered accidentals are possible, this generally means notes outside the nine note range such as high B. On the Smallpipes this means notes within the range as well. Pipers wanting to play these extra notes need to have keywork which is easy to use and makes fluent musical expression possible. In order to achieve this we fit the kind of keywork which uses pillars and rods. This method of construction has been the standard for instruments such as the clarinet and oboe for around 150 years. It is complicated to make, but has the advantage that the key lever can be positioned to give the easiest direction for the movement of the finger. The block mounted style of keywork is traditional for the Northumbrian and Irish pipes, but there was no tradition of keywork for border pipes or Scottish smallpipes in the past.

Extended Range Chanters are available for the A Border pipes. We developed these over 15 years ago. They are individually made to order, and although we have only made a limited number over the years, customers who have purchased them have been very complimentary about them. The rich harmonics of the low E against the A drones is a particularly attractive feature of the sound. They have a keywork assembly operated by the left hand little finger which gives a low F# and E below the normal range, and there is a high B key operated by the left hand thumb. Other keyed additional notes such as low G# and high C# can also be fitted if required. The high C# key plays C# when the B lever is also pressed (an easy movement), and a C nat when played on its own (two additional notes for the price of one!).

Top: Back and front view of low F#,E keywork assembly.

Bottom left: Front view of high B, C# keys.

Bottom right: Front view of low G# key.

Examples of some of the additional keyed notes available on Scottish smallpipes are as follows:

D pipes: High E C pipes: High D A pipes: High B, C, C#, D, G#, low G# and C

 
 
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