How the Pipes Work

The word ‘uilleann’ is the irish for ‘elbow’. The uilleann pipes evolved from the bag pipes in the 1700s. They are the most complex form of bag pipes. Uilleann pipes are quieter and have a softer tone than the Scottish bag pipes. Unlike the mouth blown pipes, the uilleann pipes get their air from a pump under the arm. Because of their design they are usually played sitting down…………….. below is a basic breakdown of the pipes.

Fiachra is left-handed, therefore the photos below are of left-handed pipes.

 

uilleann pipes bellowsThe Bellows…is under the left arm and using the elbow, it pumps air into the bag……

 

 

 

uilleann pipe bagThe Bag…

is under the right arm and by putting pressure on the bag, you force air to the Chanter, the Drones and the Regulators……

 

 

uilleann pipe chanterThe Chanter …

is used to play the melody. It has 8 holes which, covered by the players fingers, make different notes. Placed on the players leg, below the chanter, is a piece of leather known as the popping strap. This is used to seal the bottom of the chanter.

 

uilleamm pipe mainstockThe Main Stock…

is a means of connecting the 3 drones and 3 regulators to the bag.

 

 

uilleann pipe regulatorsThe Regulators…

are keyed pipes with stopped ends. The Player uses the wrists to press the keys, which is when they produce the sound.

 

 

uilleann pipe dronesThe Drones…

each plays a constant note, and each an octave apart. These can be on or off while playing.

 

 

a selection of uilleann pipe reedsThe Reeds…

There are seven reeds in a full set of pipes. The regulators and Chanter have double reeds and the drones have single reeds. It is the air passing through the reeds that produces the distinctive sound of the pipes.

 

Fiachra plays a ‘D’ set and a ‘B’ set. The ‘B’ set has a much more mellow sound. Both sets were made by Andreas Rogge of Germany.