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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 22 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

For more information on the album click on the cover at left


Uilleann Pipe in D
(Made by Taylor Bros., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania circa 1890)
Ireland

conical bore chanter, double-blade reed; three drones, single-blade reeds;
four regulators, two of which have one double-blade reed each and two of which each have two (!) double-blade reeds


Sound Sample in .MP3 format

sound samples copyright 1999 by Oliver Seeler & Sean Folsom


General Comments:

The Taylor brothers were makers of extremely innovative Uilleann pipes, some of which may be the most complex bagpipes ever built. Quite a few of their instruments survive, and it seems that no two are exactly alike. This example has a total of ten reeds driving eight separate pipes (see below for more on this).


Musical Notes:


The scales and key signatures given may be regarded as approximations; bagpipes may deviate from conventional standards in absolute and relative pitch.


The Taylor Uilleann Pipe in D being played by Sean Folsom.
The rather massive keywork of the "regulators."

Regulators are a feature unique to Uilleann pipes; they provide chordal accompanyment and are played with the edge of the lower hand or, by abandoning the lower chanter notes, with the fingers of the lower hand.
A bottom view of the drone/regulator array.

Complexity of construction is evident; Uilleann Pipes have more twists and turns than any other bagpipe.
This fitting resides at the bottom end of the chanter; when pressed against the piper's thigh, it shuts off the bore. When the bore is thus closed and all fingerholes and keys are also closed, the result is of course silence - a rare commodity among bagpipes.

More traditionally, Uilleann Pipes are "stopped" by simply pressing the plain outlet of the chanter against the leg. Some other bagpipes have closed chanter bores, but without a device such as this which allows the piper to have it both ways.
A view of the very nicely made bellows. The round grill sits above the air inlet in the bellows' cheek and keeps the piper's arm or sleeve from plugging it.

Bellows blown pipes have several advantages over mouth-blown instruments - for one, they allow the piper to vocalize while playing.

We suspect that this very unusual arrangement of a pair of reeds in each of two of the regulators is unique to the Taylor design. The pairs of reeds are the solution to a particular tuning problem. It seems that certain notes that are very close together in pitch (for example F-sharp and G) tend to resist all ordinary efforts to bring them both into proper tune - adjustments to the reed that bring one of the notes into tune invariably throw the other off. (A player of an ordinary mouth-blown woodwind would compensate for this by adjusting air pressure or embouchure but of course this is not possible on a bagpipe.) So, the Taylor brothers contrived to feed some of the notes of a regulator with one reed operating through one bore, and some in the same regulator with another reed through another bore. It could even be said that what appear to be single regulators are in fact two pipes - which would mean that this bagpipe has a total of ten pipes!


Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2002, Oliver Seeler,

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