PipeKeys, PipeKeys HD, PipeKeysC, and PipeKeysB
3/4 Set of Uilleann Pipes in D, C, and B as a Piano Keyboard for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad by Michael Eskin
PipeKeys is now available on the iTunes App StorePipeKeysC is now available on the iTunes App Store PipeKeysB is now available on the iTunes App Store PipeKeys HD is now available on the iTunes App Store PipeKeysB HD is now available on the iTunes App Store PipeKeys HD Ultimate is now available on the iTunes App Store
PipeKeys/PipeKeys HD are expressive, authentic sounding concert pitch 3/4 sets of Uilleann pipes chanter, drones, and two regulators in the form of a standard two octave piano keyboard.
PipeKeysB/PipeKeysB HD are the same, but three half-steps lower in the key of B and has a mellower sound.
PipeKeysC, is in the key of C and based on a completely new set of audio samples from a top quality set of pipes in C that I used to own.
PipeKeys HD Ultimate has all five keys, D, C#, C, B, and Bb in one app.
The range of the chanter is from D4 to B5.
Touch the drone puck image to switch the drones on and off.
Play the regulator chords on the top and bottom halves of the lowest two notes (C and C#) on the keyboard.
On the iPhone/iPod Touch apps, you may also play the regulators by touching the screen in the highlighted touch zones above the lowest two white keys.
Finger vibrato, as is done on the real instrument, can be added by sliding back and forth along the length of the chanter keys. The note C has an extended pitch bend range as typically used when playing a real chanter.
You can even play along with the music on your iPhone/iPod Touch by playing the track and then launching PipeKeys. Double click the home button to bring up the iPod controls while the app is running.
Adjust the volumes on the settings page in the iPhone/iPod apps, or using the sliders in the iPad app.
The sounds are recorded from my personal set of Uilleann pipes and are of extremely high quality.
PipeKeys runs on the iPhone and iPod Touch (2nd Generation).
PipeKeys HD runs on the iPad.
I've found that to best emulate the sound of the pipes, it helps to practice playing both legato and staccato styles.
Practice playing tunes with as little separation between the notes as possible to create smooth passages, but also mix it up with more staccato phrases.
There are two sets of volume controls on your device, the overall volume control using the hardware buttons, and the drone/chanter balance controls on the back page of the app.
This allows optimal volume for a wide variety of uses and situations from live play, to use with headphones or plugged into an external amplifier.
If you experience any distortion or overloading, first try setting the app volume to mid-range, then increase the device volume as required.
Try sliding from the Ghost-D (D#) to the back D for a nice effect.
You can also slide between buttons for interesting effects.
For some real fun, run the output of your iPhone or iPod Touch through an external amplifier or outboard effects. I use a Roland Cube-ST portable amp that has both reverb and chorus effects, the end result is quite amazing.
PipeKeys main screen
PipeKeysC main screen
PipeKeysB main screen
Drones enable, playing a chord
PipeKeys HD Ultimate - Drones enabled, playing a regulator and chanter note together
"The Sporting Pitchfork" on PipeKeys HD and PipeKeysB HD for the iPad
First part of the air "Táimse im' Chodladh" on PipeKeys HD and PipeKeysB HD for the iPad
Playing the first part of the air "Táimse im' Chodladh" on PipeKeys (D version), shows use of finger vibrato and bending
Playing the whole air "Táimse im' Chodladh" on PipeKeysC, shows use of finger vibrato and bending
Q: I'm not hearing any sounds on my iPhone/iPad! Help!
A: Make sure your ringer switch isn't in the "mute" position.
Q: I'm having some trouble hitting the regulator keys on the low C and C# while playing the bottom D and low E on the chanter keys, what can I do?
A: I've added an additional dedicated touch area for the regulators, immediately above the lowest two white keys as shown in the following image (the outlines are just for reference). Both the low C/C# keys or the regulator zones can be used to play the regulators:
Location of alternative regulator touch zones on the iPhone/iPod Touch versions
Q: How does the pitch bending/finger vibrato work?
A: Each chanter note key is divided into two zones, the top half of the key (for the white keys, the top half of the area below the black keys) is the note with no pitch bend. As the finger moves down from the middle of the key to the bottom, the pitch is lowered by an amount simulating typical finger vibrato. The C note has an extended bend range.
Q: Why is there no "Drone Effect" feature in PipeKeys HD Ultimate?
A: In iOS 4.3, Apple changed some internal OS operations related to audio that caused artifacts on the lower pitches of the Ultimate app particularly on iPad 2, so I had no choice but to remove the feature.
To learn more about the Uilleann pipes, please visit the following sites:
Patrick D'Arcy's Uilleann Obsession Site
Chiff and Fipple Uilleann Pipes Message Board
I am very interested in any suggestions for features or improvements to the apps for future updates, please drop me an email anytime with your ideas!
For more information, please contact Michael Eskin or visit the Tradlessons.com website:
Two-tone drone puck image courtesy of Mike DeSmidt, from a 3/4 concert pitch set he built himself.
Chanter and drone audio samples for PipeKeysC graciously provided by music professor and reedmaker K. Padraig O'Kane. He may be reached at: K. Padraig O'Kane.