Traditional Irish Bagpipes

Uilleann now available on the iTunes App Store

Uilleann is an authentic sounding set of Traditional Irish Uilleann Bagapipes that is played like the real instrument.

The app emulates the three drones and chanter of a half set of Uilleann pipes. It plays in all the traditional keys of D, C#, C, B, and Bb, and is fully tuneable as much as +/- 50 cents.

The Uilleann 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".

The chanter fingerings are based on those used for the Uilleann pipes and will also be immediately familiar and intuitive for players of the tin whistle and Irish Flute.

The app supports traditional finger vibrato, and note bending effects.

How to Play

IMPORTANT: Since this app requires as many as 9 fingers on the screen at the same time, before playing, disable "Multitasking Gestures" on your iPad (in the Settings app, under the General section, turn the Multitasking Gestures switch to the off position).

Touch the 'i' icon at the upper right corner of the main screen to show/hide the controls.

Select your instrument key from the key selector and adjust the fine tuning with the tuning slider.

The number to the left of the tuning shows shows the tuning offset in cents. To reset the tuning to zero, just touch the number.

Touch the drone puck to start/stop the drones.

To play the chanter, touch the three holes of the left side of the chanter starting with the tips of your left index, middle, and ring fingers.

Next, touch the four holes on the right side of the chanter with the tips of your right index, middle, ring, and little fingers.

Touch the green bar on the left side with your left little finger to play the notes one octave higher.

Optional pitch bending is done by first turning on "Note Bending" in the controls, then sliding the finger up or down very slightly on the root tone hole for the note or simply tilting the finger as one would do on the actual instrument to half-hole a note.

Touch the blue bar at the bottom left center with your left thumb to play the second octave "Back-D" on either a press or release based on the setting of the "Back-D Mode" control.

Touch the red bar at the bottom right center with your right thumb to stop the chanter sound for staccato techniques.

Touch the purple bar on the lower right with your right little finger to bend the pitch or play finger vibrato. You may also perform finger vibrato on the chanter for most notes with the right middle and/or ring fingers.

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

For students of the Uilleann pipes, the app supports nearly all of the alternate fingerings for most notes and can be used as a real practice chanter for the instrument. All 128 possible fingerings have been mapped as closely as possible to match the real instrument.

Sound is based on high quality per-note chanter and drone recordings from my personal sets 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

An air played on an older version of "Uilleann"

Previously, there were different apps for each key.

"The Trip We Took Over the Mountain" played on an older version of "Uilleann"

Previously, there were different apps for each key.

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.

Main screen (drones on, chanter fingering an F#)

Shows all the side controls and chanter hole touch highlights

Green Bar = Octave Up

Blue Bar = Back D

Red Bar = Closed Chanter

Purple Bar = Pitch Bend

Uilleann App Main Screen

Touch the "i" to show the controls

Uilleann Performance controls

From the 2010 Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club Tionol

Kevin Carr on the vPipes, I'm on my Uilleann app in a virtual piping showdown

VPipes meets iPad Uilleann App

Photo by Fel Bautista

Questions and Answers

Q: The sound stops when I put 4 fingers on the screen.

A: You must disable "Multitasking Gestures" in the iPad Settings to use many of my iPad apps.

Apple's gestures take over the iPad once three fingers are on the screen, so you need to disable them.

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:

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

Back-D is played by touching the highlighted bar at the left bottom center with the left thumb. Using the "Back-D Mode" control, you can choose between whether the Back-D bar plays the second-octave D note on a touch or release.

Q: Is there some way I can do finger vibrato on the second octave Back-D?

A: Yes, there are two ways. In "Open" Back-D mode, you can touch the back-D button on the bottom left center, then lift your right hand and do vibrato with your middle finger. The other way, in the newest version that has note bending, is to bend the C or C# up to D and then use the middle finger of your right hand for finger vibrato.

Q: Please explain about the controls.

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

The controls available are:

Instrument Key (D, C#, C, B, or Bb)

Fine Tuning (up to +/- 50 cents)

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 is done by sliding the finger up or down very slightly on the root tone hole for the note or simply tilting the finger as one would do on the actual instrument to half-hole a note. The width of the "Null" zone where no pitch bend will occur may be adjusted with the performance controls.

Q: In your demo videos, how do you do the "clean stop" of the sound without extra notes?

A: In the videos, I'm playing in the "Open" bottom D mode, so the red bar at the bottom center right stops the sound.

To do the clean stop:

1) Touch and hold the red bar bottom D bar with the right thumb to stop the chanter sound

2) Touch the drone puck to stop the drones

3) Lift the rest of the fingers off the chanter

4) Release the red bar.

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 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: 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

More Apps To Enjoy

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

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