"Uilleann" and "Uilleann-B" - Play the Irish Bagpipes

by Michael Eskin

Uilleann App Icon

Uilleann now available on the iTunes App Store

Uilleann-B now available on the iTunes App Store


Uilleann and Uilleann-B are authentic sounding sets of Irish bagpipes that are played like the real instrument.

The chanter fingerings are based on those used for the Uilleann pipes and will also be immediately familiar to Irish pennywhistle and flute players, who can use the fingerings they already know just by keeping the right little finger down.

New version 3.0 adds four new stereo reverb options for a huge, full sound: (iOS 5.0 or later required for reverb features)

The Uilleann (pronounced "ill-in") pipes are a bellows driven set of bagpipes with a two octave range. They are most commonly used for playing traditional Irish dance music and slow airs. In recent years they have been made popular by shows such as Riverdance, as well as many motion picture soundtracks such as "Waking Ned Devine", "Titanic", and "Braveheart".

This app emulates the three drones and chanter of a half set of "concert" pitch Uilleann pipes in the key of D. Uilleann-B is the same, but is pitched in B, three half-steps lower than a concert pitch set.

The chanter fingerings are essentially identical to the actual instrument.


How to Play


Start/stop the drones playing by touching the drone puck.

To play the chanter, touch the bar at the top left with your left thumb. This bar is the "Back D" hole on the back of a real chanter and must be covered for the lower notes to play.

Next, touch the top three holes of the chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.

Finally, touch the bottom four holes of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.

Touch the grey block next to the chanter with your left little finger to play the notes one octave higher.

Touch the grey block under the drone with your right thumb to stop the chanter sound. This may be used to play repeated or separated notes.

Touch the "i" to show/hide the live performance controls. All values are saved for next time the app is run.

Touch the Tradlessons logo at the bottom of the chanter to visit my website.

Touch the "?" for on-screen help and fingering chart.

Optional finger vibrato may be done by touching holes below the main closed holes used for a note. Set the depth of the vibrato with the "Vibrato Depth" slider.

Optional upward note bending is done by sliding the finger right or left very slightly from the root tone hole. The sensitivity to pitch be set using the "Note Bend Null Zone" slider.

Play along with tunes in your iPad's music library by starting a track using the iPad iTunes app, then launching Uilleann.

Sound is based on high quality per-note chanter and drone recordings from my personal concert pitch set of Uilleann pipes.

Chanter image based on my Kirk Lynch concert pitch chanter. Drone puck image courtesy of Mike DeSmidt. Crowley drone sample courtesy of Vinnie Kilduff.


Demonstration Videos


Orlan Charles - Theme from Braveheart played on "Uilleann Classic"



Orlan Charles - "Back to Home"



"The Humours of Ballyloughlin" played on "Uilleann-B" Version 3.0



"The Trip We Took Over the Mountain" played on "Uilleann Classic" and "Uilleann-B Classic" Version 2.0



Next, the same tune, played on my real set of Uilleann pipes in D

This is the actual instrument that the samples for the concert pitch version were recorded from.



Practicing on "Uilleann-B Classic" Version 2.0 in my car



Main screen

Uilleann Main

Touch the "i" to bring up the performance controls

Uilleann Controls

Touch the "?" to bring up the onscreen help

Uilleann Help

Questions and Answers


Q: Are the fingerings the same as a real Uilleann pipes chanter?

A: Almost exactly. Since the real instrument uses increased bag pressure to jump the octave, I've had to come up with a simple way to accomplish the same thing on the touch screen:

While the fingering chart shows the most simple fingerings, most alternate fingerings will do what you expect.

In the app, touch the highlighted bar on the left side with your left little finger to indicate an octave jump.

The Back-D hole is opened by removing your left thumb from the highlighted bar at the left top.

The chanter is stopped by touching the bar below the drone puck with your right thumb.


Q: Please explain about the live performance controls.

A: Touch the 'i' icon at the lower left corner of the main screen to show/hide the live performance controls.

The controls available are:

Chanter Volume

Drone Volume

Drone Chorus Effect On/Off

Vibrato depth

Note Bend Null Zone width

All settings are saved and restored the next time the app is run.


Q: How is per-note pitch bending done?

A: First make sure that pitch bending is enabled by bringing up the performance controls and making sure that it is enabled. Pitch bending upward is done by sliding the finger right or left very slightly on the root tone hole for the note. The width of the "Null" zone where no pitch bend will occur may be adjusted with the performance controls.


Q: What's the most reliable way to play to avoid any random notes or false triggering?

A: The iPad touch screen is most reliable and accurate with small touch areas rather than large surfaces in contact with the screen.

Since the Bagpipes and Uilleann apps really push the limits of the multi-touch capabilities of the device, it is best to use the tips of the fingers wherever possible rather than squashing the flats of the fingers down on the screen.


Q: Can I play along with the music in my iPad's music library?

A: Yes, you can play along with tunes in your iPad's music library by starting a track using the iPad iPod app, then launching Uilleann. While the music is playing you can double click the home button to bring up the iPod music controls.


Q: Where can I learn more about how to play the instrument?

A: Patrick D'Arcy's website is the definitive starting point for all things having to do with the Uilleann pipes:

Patrick D'Arcy's Uilleann Obsession


Future Plans

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!


More Apps To Enjoy

Tradlessons iOS Apps Catalog


Contact

For more information, please contact Michael Eskin or visit the Tradlessons.com website:

Visit Tradlessons.com


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