The pipes are calling
December 8, 2017 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Irish uileann pipes have been recognised as an important and unique cultural heritage symbol by UNESCO. But not many people know that there is a long tradition of uilleann pipe playing among Irish Travellers.

"Coppers and Brass is an ethnographic documentary about Irish traditional music played by members of the Irish Travelling community. It focuses on uilleann pipe playing in particular, demonstrating how Irish Travellers exhibit specific stylistic traits within Irish traditional music. It includes rare archival footage, reconstructions of significant musical events and interviews with key Traveller and non-Traveller musicians. It was directed by Tommy Fegan and was submitted as part of his MA thesis undertaken at Dundalk Institute of Technology.""

More playing by Irish Travellers here.

If you think the Uileann Pipes are boring, you haven't heard the acknowledged master Seamus Ennis. In this youtube video one of the commenters calls him the 'Jimi Hendrix of the pipes'. He was not lying.
posted by night_train (11 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you. I love this.
posted by nicolin at 5:42 AM on December 8, 2017

Mickey Dunne is a fine piper I've had the great luck of hearing play and talk annually at the local Irish music retreat, including speaking on the contribution of Irish Travellers to the tradition. Great playing.
posted by beowulf573 at 5:47 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Holy cow that instrument looks difficult to learn how to play. You've got to manage the pipe bag, bellows, chanter, drones AND regulators. No wonder they've got two separate trainer instruments of increasing complexity before you get to the real thing.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:27 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

The saying is "7 years learning, 7 years practicing, 7 years playing".
posted by beowulf573 at 6:36 AM on December 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

I love the sound of uilleann pipes. Nothing to add otherwise.

Wait, this: twenty-some years on, Riverdance isn't considered highbrow. But I listened to the soundtrack CD again yesterday, and many of the performances were so great, including the guy on uilleann pipes, Davey Spillane. Here he is performing the track called "Caoineadh Cu Chulainn" [SLYT, sorry not sorry].
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Next I would like a documentary on the wooden flute.

(Kind of an interesting back story on the wooden flute as an Irish folk instrument: When the superior silver flute was introduced in Europe, the market for wooden flutes collapsed. The now unwanted flutes were then exported to Ireland and sold to the relatively poorer folks there, and consequently became a mainstay instrument in Irish trad.)
posted by srt19170 at 7:16 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

"the guy on uilleann pipes"

Unless I'm mistaken, Davey Spillane is playing the low whistle here, rather than pipes. But he also plays pipes sometimes.
posted by key_of_z at 9:30 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Damn it, I hastily copied it down from the Youtube notes, since the CD case is out in my car.

I am happy to be corrected, since it gives me more things to go hunting for -- so thank you!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a good documentary on Pat Olwell, flute maker, that's worth renting.
posted by beowulf573 at 11:25 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

UNESCO cultural symbols are horrible. In my part of the world, every shared food, dance, instrument, whatever, is applied for by multiple countries that can claim it. And then it is weeks of screaming about how those other people tried to claim "common regional dish" and it is such a waste of time.
posted by k8t at 7:58 PM on December 8, 2017

As a piper do I get a special membership card or maybe a cool hate? I have heard nothing, you'd think they'd call.

And for a couple more videos. Here's Tommy Reck on pipes (smoking a pipe) and the recently deceased, Peadar O'Loughlin on fiddle, though is was also a fine piper.

And for an incredible example of the range the pipes can achieve, here's Padraig McGovern playing The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:00 PM on December 8, 2017

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