Tutorial

 

 

 

Chaper 4: Drone tuning

 

It may seem reasonable to think that it would be advisable to start this chapter with how to tune the chanter. But, we think that the reed adjustment and chanter tuning could be quite complex for a beginning student of the gaita. So, first we are going to start from the premise that the student who is following this tutorial has a chanter that is more or less in tune. Chanter tuning specifically will be referred to in a later chapter.

 

Tuning the drones is not particularly difficult. Besure that you tune your drones every time that you get ready to play.

 

Before we go into details regarding the tuning of the drones, a few words about the real notes that a C gaita produces.

 

The gaita is a high pitched instrument. Although “C5” is normally represented as follows:

 

Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco

 

What really sounds is the following:

Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco   or   Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco

 

The bass drone should be tuned to Low C. The bass drone should be tuned to Low C. It should have the same sound, but two octaves lower than the sound produced by the chanter (C5). The sound should be steady with no wavering. The tenor drone should be tuned to C that is one octave lower than the chanter and one octave higher than the bass drone. Our objective will be to tune the bass drone and the tenor drone, if you have one, with the main note produced by the chanter.


Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco
Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco
Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco
LOW C CHANTER
C TENOR DRONE
C BASS DRONE
 

 

Use your “musical ear” as your main resource to tune the drones. Being that your “musical ear” is a trainable characteristic, it is possible that at the beginning, this process will be somewhat difficult, erratic and imprecise. But with practice, you will improve quickly and be able to do it in a quick and exact way.

 

The range of notes that the drones can play are D above C (when the drone pieces are completely closed together) and B below C (when the drone pieces are slide apart). In order to achieve the note produced by the chanter, that is C, you slide the drone pieces up (open) or down (close). When you hear that the drone and chanter are playing the same note, although an octave apart, you will know where to leave your drone pieces in place.

Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco     Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco

 

To begin with this process, close completely the drone pieces, that is move them down towards the bag. Since the drone is now shorter in length, it will produce a note higher than C. Inflate the bag and you will hear the low C of the chanter. There will be a dissonance in sound between the chanter and the drone. Now, gradually slide the drone piece up, away from the bag, until it makes a steady sound that is the same pitch as the chanter.

Capítulo 4: Afinación del ronco

Similarly, you can start tuning your drones by “opening” them completely, that is to say slide the drone pieces up, away from the bag, and then gradually slide the drone piece down, toward the bag, until the drone is in tune with the chanter. Check constantly until you find the note you are looking for. In this case it is “C”.

Once your “musical ear” is better trained, you will be able to tune your gaita in a more consistent way. Now try tuning your drones by filling the bag with air and maintaining an even sound from your gaita. Given that the bass drone is on your left shoulder, lift your arm and slide it behind your head and grab the drone with your right hand. Then slide the drone pieces up or down until they are in tune. Unlike before, in this case you are producing C notes from your drones but a G note from the chanter. It is still possible to tune your drones because G belongs to the C major chord (C-E-G).