Hot Pipes

It's beastly hot here today, so hot it feels like you're opening the door to a steamless sauna. This got me thinking about what hot weather issues there are with the bagpipes.

One issue that I know hot weather affects is tuning the bagpipes. Tuning the bagpipes basically involves shortening or lengthening the drones (those 3 stocks that stick out of the bag), and messing around with the reed that's in the chanter (the chanter being that thing you blow on).

In case you haven't figured it out, I'm pretty new to playing the bagpipes but I've learned two things about tuning: they have to be tuned well, and it's not easy for a newbie like me to tune them. I have a really hard time figuring out if what I'm playing is sharp or flat and even if I can figure that out, it's still tough for me to fine tune it. Even with a snazzy tuning device it's still not the easiest thing in the world.

I also know that the temperature you are tuning your bagpipes in also plays a part. If you tune them in an air conditioned room and than go outside into the heat to play them, they will often go out of tune. It seems that in hot and dry weather the pitch will be all over the place, moisture can even be lost, and the drones can potentially stop. And I know from experience that once you've gotten them tuned you want to try to stay in the shade to keep them cool.

Over on Andrew Lenz's web site he recommends using talcum powder or the powdered chalk to help with sticky fingers on the chanter. I've never had this problem but I think if I played outside today I would!

The hottest weather in Scotland is in July and August when it's 19 degrees Celsius or 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit so I don't imagine that they had to deal with too many hot and humid weather issues.

Pipe on!

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