Pastoral or New Bagpipe from 1780 ---- Can it find a place in 2016 ? The second part of Dave Singleton’s enquiry. considers the question

What of the music for this bagpipe? Fortunately, an amazing quantity of the music has been brought to our attention on Ross Anderson’s web page1. There has to be enough music for a month of Sundays.
One could also add all the music from the theatre of the early 1700’s, comedy musicals being played in Edinburgh, London and Dublin. We are, of course, not allowed to omit the ever increasing quantity of new and traditional music being played today. One should also remember that Na Pìobairi Uilleann2 has a vast collection online  (IMCO), from 1720 onwards.
OK – that ought to be the repertoire sorted, no not quite – there is also the incredible selection of baroque flute and oboe music of the same period. When one looks closely at the tutor by Mr Geoghegan (see Ross Anderson’s page) it is clear he included works from all the popular genres of the time, perhaps trying to curry favour with the musical gentry, in order to sell more books.
Just a sec’ – this instrument is chromatic so it can play any repertoire, with or without drones, with or without a regulator. Anything from Adam de la Halle to Sting, the field of choice is vast and continues to expand every day.The first order of business ought to be to complete the chanter in my possession and make it a  pastoral set with at least two drones, with or without a regulator. My project of a reed capable of two octaves and a couple of notes, as close to chromatic cross-fingered, as this chanter has no key.
One might think so, but getting started on this really interesting and informative journey was far from simple.
I had a chanter to work with, I did not have drones, regulator, bag or bellows. By May 2013 the initial pitch using my reeds in the chanter was around concert D + 10 cents in the first octave, but the pitch of some individual notes were not at all close to a  ‘Just scale’. The staples were running at 4.1 to 4.2mm butt diameter and 70mm long.  During the year Mike and Sean3 kept me going, feeding me snippets and helpful answers to questions that must have made them both roll their eyes at my naïvity.  Many of the reeds would go up to the second octave only to fail at second octave G or A.
It became obvious that the there had to be a change in the staple design, but in doing so the vent hole in the foot would no longer in the right place.Somewhere in one of the articles on reed design it was stated that the staple-reed pairing had to have a volume that matched or at least came close to the “missing volume” of the tapered bore of the chanter. This is the bit of the bore that has been cut off where the reed will eventually replace the lost volume. It is where the bore would meet if the bit had not been cut off – the volume missing from the isosceles triangle made by the bores’ taper taken back to a point. If this were not the case the system would not work efficiently.
This was a Mr Benade4 concluded that “ ………for a conical woodwind instrument to function correctly, the equivalent volume of the reed cavity added to the mechanical volume of its staple (or bocal or neck) must closely match the volume of the missing part of the cone………… the correct playing frequency Frs of a double reed on its staple with the knowledge of the length of the missing cone X0 by the equation :-    
    Frs = v/2x0
    Frs = the frequency of reed and staple alone when playing the fundamental scale
    V = velocity of sound in air
    X0 = length of the missing apical (apex) cone …………”
You don’t have to believe me, just look it up online!
To me, not liking Calculus at all, that meant one keeps experimenting until you see a trend, analyse the trend then postulate some dimensions and jump there, test with a constant sized reed head and change the staple, or keep the staple and change the reed head.
I had at this time followed the diagrams on the Sean Reid web site5 and put in a second vent hole as per the plans found there. That certainly improved the balance of the octaves. This added a bonus of modifying the pitch of the bottom two notes.
Yes! Here we had the ingredients for the perfect “bag of worms” as mentioned in Common Stock by Jon Swayne in one of his articles – see the archives of the web site. This “bag of worms” befriended me with an imperturbable stickability for the next three years. I could just not shake the connection however hard I tried. 2014 rolled in with not much news to report – January 2014 had the staple diameter down to 3.9mm and at 47mm a better response, but still with high pressure in the second octave. It was then the discovery from the internet in 2013 that spinning staples meant a quicker turn around in making test staples. With this, the dimensions could be successfully reproduced ad-infinitum. The technique was, as shown, slow but effective. It could do with refining so I added this to the ever-growing list of Todo’s.
Again thanks go to Markus Gäble for showing his work on one of the German pipers’ websites6. The second link on the site shows the making of a reed for French G pipes or Shepherd pipes. The third link shows the process of “spinning” a staple.
I continued making new staples and plastic reed heads and I started to have a little success at a staple butt size of 3.9mm. Then I had one series of reeds working over nearly two octaves, one of which I sent to Ross Anderson, the well known piper, lecturer, and computer security guru. It proved completely unsuitable for his Robertson chanters, the octaves were probably not in the same ballpark.
With hindsight, it was not surprising (sorry, Ross, but I would like to be able to try again ☺.)
I now know that none of the necessary criteria to balance the lost volume was being met – The reed head was nowhere big enough for the staple dimensions. Eventually the staple size came down from 3.9mm, closely followed by 3.8mm and so forth until I eventually reached 3.2mm. But more on that later.
At the time, my reed making routine evolved into a “quick and dirty method” that functioned quite well. A single plastic reed head and staples that were more rounded on the eye of the staple meant that I could re-use the reed head by pulling it off one staple and put it onto another. (pic 2). This allowed for a simple “sliding” technique to find the correct staple eye to reed blade tip measurement and to check pitch and octave relations out. Wrapping the reedhead and staple with Loctite gas-pipe sealing string (or dental floss) and covered in Teflon tape.also meant that I could reduce the number of variables that were changing at any one time.
I also used a cane reed head, after the fashion of Jean Bona a renowned player of the Cabrette, that I tried on each of the new prototype staples.  If you can follow French or not, the video is well worth watching as he goes through the fabrication of a Cabrette reed head 7 – and you get to see the tools he uses; the expression “au pif” means  ‘done it so often it just looks about right’ and so, of course, it was spot on - a piece of reed making magic.  
My cane reed head, though, was not made “au pif” thus missing most of the aforementioned magic and it now lies in my reed-head bits box. It did bring to light how the choice of cane diameter is of primary importance.In the autumn of 2014 we arranged a 10 day stay with Sean and his wife. To me this was wonderful, I would be staying with one of the best multi-talented instrumentalists stateside - Nice!
We finalized our plans to go in 2015 around the end of April. It was fortunate that I was able to take the chanter I had back to its country of origin, where two minds could exchange ideas on how to breath new life into the pastorals.I had been steadily reducing the staple size and noticed a steady reduction in second octave pressure. But I still had not got the balance between the octaves correct. I had more timbre and tone but still no even pressure over the two octaves. The pressure would have closed any drone reeds as soon as the second note of the second octave was reached.
By the end of 2014 I was now spinning staples that were all at 3.2mm plus/minus a tenth of a millimeter and around 52mm long. In preparation for the trip, I spun up a half dozen staples to my latest dimensions, and picked a couple of my best plastic reed heads. Then came the “American experience”.  At first a little overwhelming, sometimes awe inspiring, in the end very interesting and quite enjoyable. The time spent with Sean proved very informative, and after much head scratching and exchange of ideas, towards the end of our stay, Sean mounted one of the cane reed heads he had made as a pastoral reed on standard 4.1mm staple, onto one of my 3.2mm staples.
Wonder of wonders, it went up to the top of the second octave, not in totally in tune, but with a much reduced pressure on the second octave and nearly all the chromatic notes in between. Over the next couple of days of practice, I scared ‘Wolfus’ frequently.  Wolfus being a white wolf that had adopted Sean and his wife Sharon. The idea being to “play in” the reed to see what the result would be when it finished settling.
Well, it played in, settled, but stayed out of tune on the top hand. It’s a very long reed, pitched at D#-20 cents and had a “crow” at B5/C6. It did, however, show that the Seaforth copy would operate happily with a staple reed pairing based around a 3.2mm staple using California cane. That reed became the basis for the next series of reeds. That series went on to give a reed that played, albeit quietly, two octaves with all the cross-fingered notes at close to the same volume and seemingly in pitch with each other.  As an added bonus some ‘flageolet’ notes were found, F5 F5# and a wavering G5.  Considering this particular reed from then as my “Golden Reed” further work was stopped and it was given time to “stabilize” and to allow the plastic blades to “forget” their “stressed” curvature - or resume it, as the case may be.
I produced more reeds based on the “Golden” with some limited success. Having made five reeds, all with different shapes of blade and different staple to tip measurements, when all five reeds gave two octaves, not at all in tune but reaching the top D, the idea that the staple had to be very close to one of the optimal diameter and length had possibilities.
Staple modifications seemed no longer necessary for the shape and type of reed head I was making then.
Next on the list of modifications was a reed head that could be reproduced easily.
 The reed head development continued on with the objective being to produce a plastic reed head made from available resources. The plastic that was readily available and sufficiently flexible turned out to be from PET gaseous water bottles, one from Germany available in my locality in batches of six.
Each bottle gave enough for five reeds, unfortunately only one blade at a time. All the reeds heads that successfully gave two octaves had a “crow” up at an easy A5#. Lower than that, the reeds had difficulty getting up in the higher second octaves and the third octave D and above were not attainable.
 Further development would have to progress slowly as I still had no drones to check my reeds against. That being the only real “test” for any pastoral bagpipe reed, - will it play against a pair of drones without a large change of pressure required to get to the second octave?  The only working reed so far required so little pressure to jump the octaves that it answered my question, namely, “how could the bags for pastorals be so small?” The ones we see in photos (Pic1) from collected sets may well be shrivelled a tad but the shrinkage could not explain the difference in size between a modern bag and one from the late 18th c.

 Sean had given me an address of a maker, Bryan Tolley8, in France who he said could make a set of stocks and drones working from the existing drawings that Sean had given to me. I placed an order with him in June 2015, and in April of the following year I became the happy owner of a set of drones and stocks for a pastoral set. It took a while to get some drone reeds operating, for these see David Daye’s web site8 for ‘stable drone reeds’, but they eventually settled at around D#.  The “golden reed” went all the way up to top D and did not give any serious dissonance on its way there. One more reason to leave that reed alone and not try and tune it further!
Somehow the drones would not go down to D concert, but seemed quite happy at A2 and A3 (and  A#2 and 3). After checking Mr Geoghegan’s remarks on tuning drones, we find that the small drone  should be tuned to Alamire with the big drone stopped. Alamire is defined as the penultimate note to Gamut (bottom G in Renaissance parlance). The big drone is then tuned one octave below that until they sound in unison.
This meant both drones should be tuned to A, so A2 and A3 were set up. As a matter of interest I tried a GHB big drone reed and it sounded very nice, however it did not maintain volume and pitch, possibly as it was at least 75 years old and had no bridle thread. Further checks on GHB reeds will be made as soon as a supplier can be found locally.
Now playing the chanter against drones showed that many of the reeds made did not sound so harmonious in the second octave also requiring more pressure to maintain the second octave notes, pointing to a need to further refine the shape and dimensions of the reed head to reduce the pressure in the second octave.
The benefit of a reduced pressure differential, apart from not having to pump the bellows constantly, is that the octave jumps are made easier and they stay in pitch thus matching the drones .

Pic 2  An early “quick swap” reed; staple and PS#6 head.

During the last few months I tried many ideas to get the plastic to do what was required of it, and to get a reasonable volume of sound from the reeds. Eventually it appeared that “cooking” the plastic to about 90°C enabled it to take on a molded shape, and retain its form when cold. The ideas came together producing  some good results. September 2016 produced reeds that showed the PET plastic reed head idea to be a viable alternative to cane.
I had a reed design giving two octaves plus a couple of notes, mostly hovering around D# on the chanter that I have, a pitch also favoured by Sean for his set which is also a Seaforth copy. These reeds also produced cross-fingered notes, much to my surprise, that matched the drones when played in the first octave.
The top octave still refused to match against the drones, though the first octave sounded quite reasonable (no fine tuning has yet been attempted on the chanter). The pressure for the second octave was still too high, so there were mis-matches somewhere in my ‘bag of worms’.
I had in total fifteen reeds made from PET plastic, some clear, some coloured, from half-litre bottles and 1.5 litre bottles. The material I am using is from two big bottles available in many countries, if not worldwide. First a famous Indian tonic water and second a famous Ginger Ale. Up to now these bottles are my all time favourites having a 15cm un-decorated straight tube in the middle. Absolutely perfect for a folded over style of cutting, ensuring a close match for each of the blades of the reed, thus easing the task of sealing the sides (Pic 3). Hopefully there will be no difficulty in finding resources of PET plastic in the  future.
October 2016 came and went, with more ideas for heat treatment, some working some not, all stimulating new ideas of which one, with the aid of one knitting needle (my wife gave it to me – honest), solidified into the final step in the process of heat treatment. No, come on, be serious, please! I cannot knit reeds!
The latest test reeds gave enough volume to carry over both drones, a timbre reminiscent of an early muted baroque oboe , all seem to pitch around D#'ish. So here we are in November 2016, almost six years after my initial introduction to the Seaforth Pastoral chanter, when the last worm wriggled away from the bag and everything fell into place.The resulting reed played two octaves, matched the drones over those two octaves and most of the cross fingered notes also matched. an added bonus being it sounded with reasonable volume. Well, this was an interesting development, worth trying another of the latest style reeds and add the last piece to that one -- wonderful -- another, same result, slightly off pitch but very close.

Pic 3 A batch of baroque style reeds from September 2016

After “proving” the theory with six other reeds, the project, once a dream, now became a reality. A reed that can be made from plastic, with a relatively easy production technique, from (at present) available resources,.. and it’s ECO friendly - it's recycling. ☺

I believe that with the research that has been undertaken worldwide by a few dedicated pipemakers, there is now little to stop these wonderful jack-of-all pipes being re-introduced to the piping fraternity.
Consider that a musically minded tekkie like myself was able reed one of these instruments, albeit over period of time, an expert maker should have little or no trouble at all. There is though, the question of supply and demand and whether such an instrument could create a demand. As the supermarkets seem to forget ‘if it is not on the shelf, you cannot buy it’.I can foresee advantages to having this instrument revived: it has A drones; they can also be set to D with a pair of new drone reeds; they would be prefect for adding hamony to smallpipes; they can be reeded loud enough to be a backing instrument to a “not so brash” Border pipe.
If a loud reed is required that plays only an octave and a fifth, such a reed is merely one that has not been finished further to give the two complete octaves.  
The drones can de modified substantially, as seen in the later developed Union pipes with four or drones and a regulator. As a chromatic instrument (new sets can be pitched to concert D), it may serve as a harmonizing, backing or a solo instrument over two octaves. What more could one ask for? Oh yes, they can also have a regulator with four or five harmonizing notes.
The question of its national identity I think should remain just that, a question. It’s not just a bagpipe. It is the result of thousands of years development, and as such should be given due care and attention, not relegated to an air conditioned museum display case. Those sets have had their moment, re-devopment is in order.
There are some obstacles that may prove to be too strong for this instrument to overcome. It has lain silent for at least a hundred years; it requires a Prince to “kiss” it back to consciousness, a difficult task with few rewards.
One such obstacle could well be the precedent set by the 1760 book of Pibroch (Joseph MacDonald)11, in which the instrument is dismissed as it “has pinching notes, too weak for the field, imitating Italian music without proper basses, merely a drone”. Could this have had the effect of pausing development in the North East of England and also in Scotland, and some makers to lose standing? This, at a time when reputation was equated with income, could make or break a bagpipe maker.
The statement by Mr Joseph MacDonald is nevertheless interesting in that it does imply that the second octave pinched notes were available, that it was capable of playing Italian music (sharps – flats) and that it may well have brought acceptance for the addition of the regulator to give a ‘pseudo’ bass line.
The idea that it was to the Pastoral pipes that Mr. MacDonald was referring, is for myself, not completely clear. The Pastoral second octave does not need ‘pinching’ or ‘back l’il’ shivverin’.
 Development did continue in Ireland where makers started producing ‘narrow bore pipes’ or ‘flat sets’ as they are now called and to a lesser extent in the North East of England. Documentary evidence is as yet undiscovered so we will never know where the Pastoral pipes came from and why they slowly lost ground to the Union pipes of Ireland.
They have existed for more than 300 years during which time they matured into the Union pipes and then into the Uilleann pipes so they there can be no question of them suffering from a lack of tradition or history, thus a solid pedigree although strangely ignored by the majority of bellows pipers.
So having succeeded with my first objective, my secondary objective to obtain a reed playing in concert D has not yet been realized. The instrument in my possession may well have been pitched in Eb, as has been mentioned to me by Malcolm MacLaren in Australia (thanks Malcolm) and others. The third objective, namely ‘what of the music’ for this early instrument and its performance, is a project that may now commence in earnest. I do have to learn to become more of a musician and less a fettler – yet another ‘bag of worms’.
What I had managed to produce were reeds within a couple of cents of D# at A=440Hz playable over two octaves with or without drones.
As to the rumours and hints that the pastoral pipes could be played without its foot section as a Union style pipe, I can verify that this is indeed true. Popping to the second octave is very easy, and the scale sounded very nice against the drones without retuning. It will require some irregular fingerings on some notes. Top D was easy to play along with a couple of higher notes.
Further details I will leave to Sean to sort out after I get one of the latest reeds over to him.
It's now up to interested makers to give serious consideration to this instrument, whose plans are free and available on the internet5, 12  
The answer to the original question ‘Can it find a place in 2016?’ I am pleased to be able to say it most definitely should.1
2   Na Piobairi Uilleann - permission granted for photo (star site)
3 Mike Sharp and Sean Folsom – both in the USA
4 and
5  A mine of useful information
6    Stephan’s Sackpfeifenclub in German – very comprehensive site      Reed making for French G pipes   Staple spinning
7  dowload the video from this address, it is large
9  David Daye’s reedmaking pages
10  Alt Pibroch club
11Adam de la Halle   Composer of the first printed comedy operetta in 1280’ish .. link---    LBPS Common Stock Vol 8
Other  Links of interest  (Rohrblattbau fur Historische instrumenten - star video)   (Uilleann pipe maker)   Early Oboe site  A top reed+instrument info site but mostly in French   A  link to the Alternative pipers of North America

David sent this mage of his latest reeds as the journal was going to press. La lutte continua….