Why are bagpipes tuned using just intonation?



Asked by: Lisa Rivera

There are 2 reasons why bag pipes (including the GHB) are usually tuned in a “more just” intonation than the equal-temperament version: Both reasons are connected with how we perceive Intervals, and that “just intervals”, with more simple frequency rations, CAN be perceived as “better sounding”.

Why are bagpipes always out of tune?





The chanter is tuned to match the drone and because it’s playing solo it can be tuned in just temperament. This means that the notes are purer against the drone. This makes most of the notes “off” according to equal temperament.
Super Moderator.

Scale Note Actual Note
D E flat
E F
F G
High G Between A and A flat

Are bagpipes tuned?

Bagpipes are rarely played with other instruments due to their tuning. Most other instruments are tuned at standard concert pitch (440 Hz), whilst a bagpipe is tuned around 470–480 Hz. It is possible to change the pitch by using different chanters and reeds.

What key are the bagpipes tuned to?

D major

Highland bagpipe music is written in the key of D major, where the C and F are sharp. Due to the lack of chromatic notes, to change key is also to change mode.

Is just intonation better?





Some people describe harmonies in Just Intonation as being “full” or “rich”, while others describe them as “bland” or “lifeless”. However, most people would agree that JI harmonies are considerably smoother than tempered harmonies. There are several reasons for this.

What pitch are highland bagpipes?

between 475 and 485 Hz

Concert A pitch for Highland bagpipes is much higher than other instruments and varies between 475 and 485 Hz.

How many notes can bagpipes play?

nine notes

5. The bagpipe can play nine notes, from G to A; however, there are no sharps or flats, so there is no need for a key signature. 6. The bagpipes have a bag that holds air.



Why were the bagpipes banned in Scotland?

The playing of the Bagpipe was banned in Scotland after the uprising of 1745. They were classified as an instrument of war by the loyalist government. They were kept alive in secret. Anyone caught carrying pipes were punished, the same as any man that bore arms for Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Are bagpipes more Scottish or Irish?

Bagpipes, A Symbol of Scotland
But, whoever invented them, the Scots have pretty much made this instrument their own over the years. However, the Irish also lay claim to playing an instrument that is similar to the Scottish version. The national bagpipe of Ireland is as much a tradition as their Scottish counterparts.

Can bagpipes play chords?

While the bagpipes only have 9 natural notes, their sounds can be manipulated to play chords and unnatural notes by lifting multiple fingers at the same time.



Why is just intonation impractical?

In Western musical practice, instruments are rarely tuned using only pure intervals—the physics of music makes this impractical. Some instruments of fixed pitch, such as electric pianos, are commonly tuned using equal temperament, in which all intervals other than octaves consist of irrational-number frequency ratios.

What is the problem with just intonation?

An ideal system (for Western people) would be based on the natural harmonic series, because we love how harmonics sound. This kind of tuning system is called just intonation. It sounds lovely! Unfortunately, just intonation makes it impossible to change keys or tune your guitar.

Should I tune to equal or just temperament?

For the purposes of this chart, it is assumed that C4 = 261.63 Hz is used for both (this gives A4 = 440 Hz for the equal tempered scale).
Just vs Equal Temperament (and related topics)

Interval Ratio to Fundamental Just Scale Ratio to Fundamental Equal Temperament
Major Third 5/4 = 1.2500 1.25992

Why is equal temperament out of tune?

Because of the limitations of keyboard instruments, one way or another, a keyboard tuner has to “temper” some of the notes so that some scales sound the same. In equal temperament, all the scales average out the same, the distance between the notes are all the same.



What tuning did Bach use?

The main tuning system in Bach’s time was called meantone temperament. This system sounds great in C major and nearby keys, but the further away you move on the circle of fifths, the worse everything sounds.

Is just intonation the same as Pythagorean tuning?

Pythagorean tuning is a type of just intonation. You don’t quite get simple ratios by stacking P5, but what you get is also decent -> major/minor thirds and sixths are a schisma away from simple ratios, so you get a few good intervals in a 12 notes gamut.

What was wrong with Pythagorean tuning?

Pythagorean tuning provides uniformity but not the chords. Just tuning, based on the simpler ratios of the overtone series, provides the chords but suffers from inequality of intervals. Meantone tuning provides equal intervals but gives rise to several objectionable chords, even in simple music.

Why don’t we use Pythagorean tuning?

For example, a C-based Pythagorean tuning would produce a stack of fifths running from D♭ to F♯, making F♯-D♭ the wolf interval. However, there will always be one wolf fifth in Pythagorean tuning, making it impossible to play in all keys in tune.