The contacts on the chanter are electrical and not mechanical, meaning that they do not have to be pressed down to achieve contact. The grip does not have to be any firmer than that on the pipe chanter. The contacts are about 3mm in diameter, and with their highest point slightly above the surface of the pipe in order to get a better feel for their position. Worth mentioning is that there is no electrical “ground contact” on which a finger or any other part of the body has to rest on, or be connected to, whilst playing.
You start the drones by playing low A, and then the chanter by playing an E. If you don’t want the drones to sound you just play an E. If you want to shut the sound off briefly, just play the “off” fingering combination and it will go silent until you start playing again.
There are two contacts that are used to control all settings. To adjust a setting, just hold the relevant fingering combination and use the control contacts.
The following can be controlled:
- Sensitivity: Since the fingers sometimes can be very dry, causing them to become poor conductors, and sometimes quite sweaty, leaving a sweat film on the chanter short-circuiting the contacts, the sensitivity is possible to set. Most of the time though, the setting of the sensitivity can be ignored.
- Pitch: With Sound set to Smallpipes, the chanter starts in the key of A (220Hz), and the low A goes from 92Hz up to 369Hz in steps of 0.1 to 0.7Hz. With Sound set to Highland Pipes, the chanter starts in the key of Bb (466Hz), and the low A goes from 185Hz up to 738Hz. The key of the chanter can easily be set to A, Bb, C, or D.
- Metronome: easy to start in desired tempo. Sub-beats can be added.
- Drones: volume relative to chanter. The drones are always in tune with and follows the key of the chanter. A baritone drone in E or D can sound, either alone or along with the tenor and bass drone.
- Sound: Great Highland pipes, Smallpipes 1, or Smallpipes 2 sound.
- Scale: The chanter can play three different scales:
1) The standard GHB/SP scale, tuned to harmonise with the drones: so called harmonic tuning.
2) A chromatic scale, also with harmonic tuning.
3) A chromatic scale with equally tempered tuning. This tuning is usually the best for playing together with other instruments.
- Volume: affects chanter, drones, and metronome.
- Recording: more than 1200 notes can be recorded. During playback, the recorded notes are sounding on the right channel, and you can play along on the left. The playback speed can be set between ¼ and 2 times the recorded speed.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is an electronic communications protocol that enables electronic musical instruments, computers, and synthezises etc. to communicate with each other. MIDI does not transmit an audio signal – it transmits digital data messages defining parameters such as pitch and volume of the musical notes to play. See http://www.midi.org for further reading.
You enter MIDI mode by holding a specific fingering combination and then inserting the MIDI cable plug to switch the chanter on.
The chanter is initially set to channel 1, but can be set between 1 and 14. The bass is fixed on channel 15 and the tenor fixed on channel 16.
In MIDI mode the metronome and recording are not available.
The pitch is adjusted in semi-notes.
The volume settings for chanter and drones affect the “velocity” of the MIDI note. On some devices the velocity is the same as the volume for the note, on others it isn’t. It is up to the receiving device to interpret the velocity data. With the sound setting on Smallpipes, all notes have the same velocity. With the setting on Highland pipes, the higher notes has lower velocity than the low notes.
In MIDI mode the power consumption is lower and the chanter will run for approx. 20 hours on a rechargeable 1000mAh NiMH battery.
The length of the pipe is 249mm and the diameter is 16mm. Despite the small dimensions this is a full-size chanter and the spacing of the contacts is the same as the spacing of the holes on a pipe chanter. The dimensions together with the low weight of approx. 60 grams, make this chanter very portable indeed.