Seth Gallagher Workshop | Uilleann .com

FREQUENTLY   ASKED
QUESTIONS
about
UILLEANN   PIPES

Q: What is the difference between the Highland or Irish War Pipes and the Uilleann Pipes?

Q: Is a practice set just for practice?

Q: What are drones and regulators?

Q: Do you have pipes in stock, or is there a waiting list?

Q: How does one get started on the pipes?

Q: What is the difference between the Highland or Irish War Pipes and the Uilleann Pipes?

A: The Scottish Highland or Irish War Pipes were designed just for that, war. They are loud, sound great with drums and are perfect for rallying tattooed warriors to charge naked into a Roman legion. If, on the other hand, you want to play tunes in a warm pub with a fiddle, a guitar and Sharon Shannon on accordion, the Uilleann pipes would be the more suitable instrument.

The Uilleann (pronounced ILL-uhn) pipes are about the same volume as a fiddle. They have a range of two full octaves, which, with the addition of keys, can be made chromatic. And, pitched at concert D, they are compatible to play with most common instruments. The fingering is very similar to the tin whistle and simple system flute. The chanter can be completely closed off, making it possible to play both staccato and legato. Other features include: ability to change tone and volume by opening bell of the chanter (lifting chanter off leg); style of playing that uses the subtle finger vibrato and note bending; and both a C natural and a C sharp which allows one to play tunes in both the keys of D and G.

Oh, I almost forgot, you don't blow into Uilleann pipes, a convenient bellows pumps them up for you. And you have to sit to play them.

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Q: Is a practice set just for practice?

A: No. In fact, practice set is a misnomer: starter set might be a better name. Each part of a practice set, bag, bellows and chanter, is the same as on a full set, but the drones and regulators are missing. These can be added to the practice set when desired. Most beginners start with a practice set because 1., it is cheaper; 2., you won't need the drones until you get a few tunes off; and 3., it simplifies an already overwhelming instrument.

Even when you are playing a good number of tunes, a practice set will work nicely in a session or with other pipers.

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Q: What are drones and regulators?

A: Drones provide a constant background, contributing to the ancient sound associated with the pipes. They are a must for solo playing and can enhance the sound of a small ensemble. The Uilleann pipes have 3 drones pitched at 3 octaves of D. Regulators are chanter-like appendages with keys that allow a player to accompany him/herself by playing chords with either the wrist or a free hand. Regulators are by no means essential to pipe playing, and a few professionals don't even use them. But they can provide beautiful accompaniment to both aires and dance tunes. A three-quarter set includes a tenor and baritone regulator and a full set adds the bass regulator.

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Q: Do you have pipes in stock, or is there a waiting list?

A: I do not have pipes in stock and there is, unfortunately, a back log. See ordering information for wait times.

To get on the waiting list, just contact me. There is a $50 non-refundable deposit required.

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Q: How does one get started on the pipes?

Most pipers start on the whistle and all uilleann pipers play at least some whistle. This is a good place to start even if you don't have to wait two years for your practice set. I would suggest finding a piping teacher as close as possible and taking lessons on the whistle. If a teacher is unavailable, you might try a book tutor like Heather Clarke's New Approach to Uilleann Piping, available from Seth Gallagher Workshop. I also offer the three volumes of The Art of Uilleann Piping Videos, featuring Gay McKeon and Nollaig Mac Carthaigh.

To find an instructor, or at least a compatriot learner, see my contact list. Also try Dean Karras' website, David Daye's website and his uilleann pipe "list", and contacting Wally Charm at the Piper's Club in Seattle. I recommend that you join the later for the $15 fee. You get the quarterly newsletter which keeps you in contact with goings-on and people around the country, North America, and occasionally the world.

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Do you want to know more about the Uilleann Pipes? Check out these links having to do with Uilleann Piping, and watch this space for updates and more answers to frequently asked questions!

 


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