The Uilleann Pipes have been around for around a few hundred years but have had quite a lot of design refinements before they became what they are today. Most full sets today are pitched in what is referred to as “Concert D” which are best suited session playing. Compared to what are called “Flat Sets”, concert chanters have a wider taper in the bore giving a better volume levels for playing with other musicians, while flat sets have a narrower (straighter) bore producing a mellower sound but with less volume. Concert chanters are available in C, narrow bore sets in C, B, Bflat are more common. These pipes also come in different levels of completion, most begin learning on a “Practice Set” which is bag, bellows and chanter, a “Half Set” adds the main stock with drones, a “Three Quarter Set adds the two smallest regulators (the pies with all the keys played with the wrist) and a “Full Set” adds the bass regulator. It is said that this instrument take twenty one years to learn, 7 years to master the bellows, another 7 years to master the chanter, and another 7 to master the regulators. Don’t let this put you off though, uilleann pipes are difficult but very rewarding if you can endure all the practice.
Who you should listen to: Willy Clancey, Seamus Ennis, Paddy Keenan, Liam O’Flynn, Leo Rowsam, Davey Spilane, Blackey O’Connel, Podraig McGovern, Mikie Smyth, Manus Lunny, Jason Rouse