(for anyone puzzled by this discussion, one cent is 1/00 th of a semitone. So 
20 cents is 1/10th of a whole tone, or 1/10th of the difference between C and 
D.That's not a subtle difference, of course!)

On 7 Feb 2011, at 17:26, Julia Say wrote:

> Shortly after Andrew Davison took over the 17 key R. Reid set he now plays 
> (which 
> apparently is c. 1836) the fettler who helped him set it up remarked to me 
> that 
> they first, without altering *anything* put in "a reed" - design unspecified 
> - and 
> Andrew played it. The resulting pitch, without any work, oddities or messing 
> on, 
> was F + 20.
Hello Julia and others,

Well, that's an interesting and fortunate anecdote, but are you suggesting that 
it's anything more than amusing coincidence?

I have no problem over the large number of pipes being pitched at F+20 cents. I 
can happily play on a concert F set for a whole evening with a roomful of 
pipers playing at variously F+20, F+ 35 and F + whatever, though I must admit 
the bag arm gets a little tired with the extra squeezing, and it does no 
favours to tone or intonation. People should be at liberty to play at whatever 
pitch they like, provided that they and fellow players don't mind the musical 

What worries me is the notion often put forward on this forum that F+20 cents 
is a 'standard' pitch for pipes. It isn't a standard: it's a current tendency, 
and nobody can accurately predict how long this will last. My instinct - and 
it's no more than that, though based on precedents in woodwind history - is 
that pitch will revert a more widely accepted standard, i.e concert pitch. The 
good news there is that there may well be plenty of remunerative work for the 
pipe fettlers of the future in converting chanters to F concert!

 Playing music is primarily a sociable activity and there seems to be little 
point in encouraging an NSP 'sharp-F ghetto' where players can only play 
comfortably with their own kind. For that reason, I think that anyone 
considering buying and learning pipes should consider whether they intend to 
play primarily with other instruments or just with with pipes . If pipe-makers 
are offering to provide pipes set up in these alternative pitches, they should 
make themselves known.

Your narrative of the way the present situation came about is a good and 
accurate account, I think. what is notable is that historically, each step 
along this path towards F + 20 has been for some negative reason and  not 
because of some advantage of musicality or encouraging our pipes to play a part 
in any wider musical context.

I have no axe to grind over F+20 Cents or F concert. You pays yer money and you 
takes yer choice. What I do think, however is that there should actually *be* a 



To get on or off this list see list information at

Reply via email to