Call it the Blair Pitch Project. The first custom Highland bagpipe tuner application for the Apple iPhone and iPad platforms will be available, pending final approval by Apple, in mid-November on iTunes, courtesy of Australian piper Murray Blair.
Final pricing is yet to be determined, but Blair said that the price would likely be between $9.99 and $14.99.
pipes|drums was leaked information on the top-secret project by sources close to Blair.
The product is currently with Apple for final review before being made available to pipers around the world. So far only an iPhone version of the application has been developed, but a version for other smartphone operating systems like Android and BlackBerry may be in the works.
The Bagpipe Tuner iPhone app is the first developed especially for the Highland pipe. Other tuning metre applications are available, but are intended for use with other instruments.
The iPhone/iPad Bagpipe Tuner works from either the device’s internal microphone, or with a line-in mic, with a live input level wave metre, which will also indicate fluctuation in blowing pressure. The application includes a “Learn Mode” that allows the user and the device to understand the pitch on which to base tuning.
A former member of the 1998 World Championship-winning Victoria Police, Murray Blair has established a career in sound engineering. He has worked with several solo and pipe bands to create top-selling recordings.
The iPhone Bagpipe Tuner is the latest in a long list of technological advancements for pipes and drums to come from Australians. The first synthetic pipe bag, plastic drone reeds and canister drying system all originated from Australian Geoff Ross, while the Legato snare in the 1980s was seen as a breakthrough instrument for pipe band drumming.
Blair also developed the HBT2 Bagpipe Tuner several years ago, as well as “Tunetape,” adhesive tape for pipe chanter tuning.
“The app is made initially for iPhone/ iPad and iPod, programmed for the bagpipe scale and complements the HBT2,” Blair said. “The user interface features an analog style meter, digital frequency meter, relative frequency position bar, waveform display and input monitor providing plenty of feedback for the user. Being digital, it’s extremely accurate and can auto detect/ display each chanter note and drone. It has a frequency range of 430-500Hz.”
Blair said that, should the user receive a phone call while using the tuner, the application stores the low A frequency so that when the user returns he or she can continue where they left. He added that future software updates will provide further functionality.
Blair acknowledged that there are “limitations to using smartphones as tuners. This app is designed to support more powerful units like the HBT2 and the upcoming HBT-C1 which will be released in 2012.”
“I’m an audio engineer so helping pipers accurately tune is what I’m about,” Blair said. “Tuning pipes and keeping them in tune is a challenge, so using a bagpipe tuner can help train the ear. This series of tuners is part of a new era so pipers of any level can sound good and play confidently.”
In 2009 Melbourne-based piper Mark Saul launched the Saul Bagpipe Tuner, which has gained substantial marketshare. Saul was also a member of the Victoria Police Pipe Band.