The Uilleann Pipes (pronounced ill-en)
are a bellows blown bagpipe that originated in Ireland around
the early 18th century. They were derived from an earlier
type of bagpipe called the pastoral pipes, with the variations
being mainly in the chanter and playing style as well as
the addition of regulators. The uilleann pipes were originally
called the "union pipes" which is a term still
commonly used today, even though it is the archaic name.
The uilleann pipes are played while sitting
down so that the drones and regulators can lay across the
lap and be accessable to the wrist, which is how the regulators
are played. The main part of the uilleann pipes, in which
the music (melody) is played, is called the chanter. The
chanter uses a double reed and is very similar to the oboe.
The music from the chanter is then usually accompanied by
the drones and regulators at the piper's discretion. The
volume of the uilleann pipes is comparable to that of a
violin or flute.
Full set of uilleann pipes -
chanter, three drones, three regulators, bag, and
The uilleann pipes most commonly play
in the key of D, which is referred to as "concert pitch".
Other keys that the uilleann pipes are available in include
C sharp, C, B, and B flat which are referred to as "flat
pitch". If you are interested in more information about
the uilleann pipes, check out the
wikipedia description or feel free to email
us with any questions!