g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

Bored? Games!
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

Natural Living
Folklore and Mythology
Distance Learning

All times in EST

Low Carb: 8:00 PM

Full Schedule
g Irish Culture Site

BellaOnline's Irish Culture Editor


Uilleann Pipes and Howling Dogs

Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney

When you’re listening to “Danny Boy,” and they get to the bit about “the pipes, the pipes, they’re calling,” it’s fairly certain that it’s the haunting sound of the uilleann pipes that are doing the calling.

No matter how tempting it might be to try turning uilleann into a proper Gaelic tongue-twister, it’s just a simple word, “ill-an.” They’re lovely to listen to and take a lifetime to master; or as has been told to me, playing the uilleann pipes requires seven years of listening, seven years of learning, and seven years of playing.

If you’re a fan of the modern-day traditional Irish band, Danu, you’ve already heard the uilleann pipes. The thing of it is, you might have thought you were listening to a flute, a fiddle, or maybe even a piccolo; that’s the thing about this very strange-looking instrument; it has a chameleon-like tendency to sound like whatever the piper wishes it to...theoretically.

Anyone with an interest in playing the uilleann pipes is first handed a tin (penny) whistle. This is an act of great wisdom and generosity on the part of the pipe-master. If one hasn’t the patience to master the simple tin whistle (which involve the same finger movements and position as the uilleann pipes—except for the pinky of the right hand and the thumb of the left), there’s not even a remote chance of learning to pump the bellows, squeeze the bag, and play the chanter.

Blowing into the tin whistle opens a whole new world of sounds, some never meant to be experienced by the human ear. Those first few days will try the spirit of even the most determined student. Just as you think you’re starting to get the hang of it, you notice that the family dog begins to howl every time you pick up your whistle. Never mind. It’s just a canine form of appreciation. Continue your practice. The best place to practice is where you won’t be disturbed. It is very difficult to maintain the necessary concentration when constantly interrupted by unsolicited comments. The important thing is that you practice every day. Another old saw comes to mind: If I don’t practice one day, I know. If I don’t practice two days, my teacher knows. If I don’t practice three days, the whole world knows.

Your teacher will let you know when it’s time for you to move up to your own set of uilleann pipes. The most common ways of acquiring your pipes would be to: locate and purchase a used set, or get in line to have a new set made for you. Uilleann pipes are handmade to order and there can be a waiting period of a number of years for a set of pipes from a popular pipe-maker.

So playing the uilleann pipes may not be for everyone, but listening to them when played well is an out-of-this-world experience. And where would all those fabulous pipers be without appreciative audiences to hear the call of the pipes?
Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Twitter Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Facebook Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to MySpace Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Digg Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Yahoo My Web Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Google Bookmarks Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Stumbleupon Add Uilleann+Pipes+and+Howling+Dogs to Reddit

RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map

For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Irish Culture Newsletter

Past Issues

Printer Friendly
tell friend
Tell a Friend
Email Editor

Content copyright © 2018 by Mary Ellen Sweeney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Mary Ellen Sweeney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bee Smith for details.


g features
Four Best of Ulster

Four Best of Connaught

Four of Best of Munster

Archives | Site Map


Past Issues

Note: BellaOnline uses cookies to help provide a consistent user experience. Our advertisers may use cookies to help customize ads. Please contact us with any question about our cookie use.

Summertime Foods
Corn on the Cob
Burgers on the Grill
Apple Pie


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2018 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.

BellaOnline Editor