Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

As I’m finally starting to build a real repertoire of tunes, I’m starting with some old favorites from recordings that I’ve been listening to for the last several years. But as I was going through which tracks from which albums, I realized that I don’t have very many pipe recordings.

I don’t have much of a preference other than something that’s in standard keys. Learning tunes from recordings isn’t very helpful if you can’t play along with the recording. It’s difficult to assess your accuracy that way. Thank you for any recommendations.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Any of Gordon Duncan’s albums must be high on your list. But might not be in your preferred keys unless you are in the usual GHB keys.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Sorry guys, I meant Uilleann Pipes. I guess the smallpipes would be acceptable too. Does GHB stand for "Great Highland Bagpipes"? And don’t the Uilleann Pipes typically play in G Maj, D Maj, and their relative Minors and Dorians? Those are the keys I meant.

To put it more in context, this is also for understanding how the articulations and ornaments are supposed to sound, for my concertina technique.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

So you want concert pitched pipe recordings.
I prefer the flat pipes, but Joey Abarta’s Swimming Against the Falls and Preston Howard’s The Primrose Glen are great.
Can’t beat Leo Rowsome and Willie Clancy as well.

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Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

If it’s lovely solid piping you want, the late great Liam O’Flynn is great as a starting point. It’s worth listening to his solo stuff as well as his playing as a member of Planxty. Planxty’s recording of their live gig in Vicar Street in Dublin, and especially Liam’s piping, was what really got me into trad music in the first place.

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Dunnp, Liam O’ Brien teaches several Willy Clancy tunes on the OAIM, so thank you for checking in with that! I think I already know two actually, so I’ll be excited to look through his recordings! And umm… what are the "flat pipes"?

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Flat pipes are Uilleann pipes or union popes pitched below concert pitch in or around C sharp, c, B, Bb, A usually with a narrower bore and sweeter sound than concert pitched pipes.

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Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Thanks Colman O’B! I don’t know if I’ll be able to get ahold of Vicor Street, but there are several others in the shop I can get. How do you feel about "One Night In Bremen"?

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Cillian Vallely & Kevin Crawford, "On Common Ground" (2009) is a great album of Uilleann pipe and flute, whistle, sometimes dual low whistle.

I don’t know if it’s concert or flat pipes, don’t have an instrument handy to check, and it’s just a "listening album" for me. I’ve never tried to play along with it. Maybe someone else can comment on the pitch, or you could go to the Amazon site and listen to the tune previews for the album.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Ditto on the classics (Ennis, Rowsome, Clancy) I would also add Johnny Doran to that list too.

I would highly recommend anything by Mick O’Brien especially Kitty Lie Over with fiddler Caoimhin O Raghallaigh. (That, and the other one with Caoimhin, are on flat sets as an fyi. His solo album has various pitches as does the one with his daughter Aoife and Emer Mayock I think.)

@Conical Bore; Cillian and Kevin use C and D instruments on that album according to the liner notes.

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Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Id suggest you get the ’ Clare set’ 6 CDs of mostly solo concertina from co clare. These recordings are not so much about virtuostic technique rather feel.
Pipe playing has a wealth of hundreds of ornamental possibilities far outweighing the relatively limited possibilities on other instruments.
Forget about ornaments as a beginer , IMO thats just the ego asserting itself . Practice simple basics for some years and get good at them . The key to complexity is in mastering simplicity !
This album is in C a lot ofolder concertina players would use the middle row . Good practice to learn tunes in 2 keys…..
https://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/album/uilleann-pipes-pat-mitchell/0888003122567

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"The key to complexity is in mastering simplicity."

I understand, and would agree in almost all cases. But how would I get better at ornamental techniques if I don’t practice them? I agree with the notion that ornamentation isn’t separate from the music, and with that, I would think that ornaments should be practiced along with everything else.

After my last post, I’ve realized a few things about articulations on concertina, and since taking everyone’s advice and working on the exercises and techniques offered, everything makes a lot more sense. I’ve been acclimating to my new playing style for several weeks now and I feel much more comfortable, capable, and confident than before.

On a different note, I have a lot of concertina music to chew on at the moment, and the "Clare Set" will have to wait a while. I have so much overdue music homework, and the lot of it is for Irish music. I haven’t taken the time to add Uilleann Pipe albums to my collection and until now, and this is long overdue. I should’ve done this years ago. I haven’t forgotten about The Clare Set though, it’s on my list of future endeavors.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

The approach for ornaments, they are not articulations on the concertina is firstly to figure which ones work. That id say would best be done by listening to concertina and asking players. To be honest i dont think there are very many !
As a piper the standard approach is to practice ornaments as exercises in scales and the like little 3 or 4 note phrases .
Then what i do is say with a 1/4 note cut into three to form a triplet is to practice a simple tune for maybe an hour , really! . I will swap over different ornaments , which achieve the same general effect , the triplet, so ill play it each way slowly many times. But this is only possible once i can actually physically accomplish the manual dexterity required to complete the move, that i do by methodical slow and persistant practice outside the confines of a tune. Only when i can do the move , do i try to use it.
To assure myself that i have the correct rhythmic effect i alternate between the different techniques and i do it a lot, then i would switch tune and continue the process.
By getting incredibly familiar with a tune and trying as many different ways to phrase and ornament the tune , this automatically influences other tunes.
So take the blarny pilgrim say as i did yesterday, (30 yrs after learning it! )And really get into playing it a hundred different ways .
Regarding the album, well the pat mitchel album is cheap , and excellent. Were i to recomend another it would be the 18 Mollony by Pavid power .
These are for listening and enjoyment .
The thing is , people focus on what makes trad different , the ornaments, not realising that the important thing is what nearly all music has in common!! Thats the bread and butter to focus on , the similarities.
Every instrument has different ornamental possibilities. As a young banjo player it was triplets . Thats pretty much it as regards ornamental possibilities !
pipers have hundreds to contend with , so a much bigger pallete of colours to play with.
What can happen is that people focus on the ornaments but miss out on making their playing rhythmically tight and exciting through the phraseing . The essentials .

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Ok just to answer one of your points , "ornaments are part of the music" this is true, sometimes, but not always and it depends on instrument, so its not really an accurate statement .
They are not part of the tune as an idea , (though in some limited cases they can be, ie tunes that are only exciting on a particular instrument due to a particular ornamental effect that cant be achieved on other instruments ).
The ornaments become part of the music experientially so it depends on the player, instrument and time and place.
So focus on what all trad players have in common , the tunes. Forget about ornaments and just learn tunes , get good at them .its about your focus. Focus on tunes and rhythm. Make your playing exciting and driving . The ornaments , what there are of them , will come in time . If you try to be what your not, then the ornaments will impede your progress.
What is important is that people want to tap their feet , move , get up and dance to your music. Thats the primary aim. Excitement, rhythm, lift ,drive , phraseing .
Different ways to articulate and ornament a note will become important in time….
people are so in a rush these days to achieve, to arrive , they can miss the beauty of the journey and fail to realise its not an easy road, it takes time effort dedication , obsession even! Its more like a maze than a straight road, so dont get lost exploring every path you see , focus on the bigger picture . :-)

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Back to the OP, if you start gathering a large number of uilleann pipe albums (I have piles of them) you’ll soon discover that there are a number of "standard keys" of uilleann pipes.

Yes many of the classic LPs I grew up listening to which featured Finbar Furey, Paddy Keenan. Liam O Flynn, Paddy Moloney, etc were on Concert Pitch D sets.

But if you listen to recordings of the earlier generation of pipers you’ll encounter albums done partially or entirely on flat sets: C#, C, B, and even Bb. And many sets of in-between pitches.

And with more recent albums it’s common for pipers to switch between Concert and flat sets.

Then there are albums partly or entirely done on sharp sets in Eb, or sets halfway between D and Eb.

All of this means that it will be difficult to build a representative collection of uilleann pipe albums which are exclusively played on D sets.

All of this aside, my recommended listening would start with the old guys- Seamus Ennis, Tommy Reck, Leo Rowsome, Willie Clancy, the Dorans, all of them. Then the pipers who might be regarded as the "folk music revival" players like Finbar Furey, Paddy Keenan, Liam O Flynn, Paddy Moloney, Joe McKenna, I can’t remember who all.

That would give your ear some grounding when you listen to all the more recent players.

About playing along to learn tunes, I often have to use whistles because I have them in more different keys than I have chanters.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

There are some great compilations, including a few in a series titled "The Drones and the Chanters (Irish Pipering)", which was released on Vinyl, but you can get digital copies, and they’re on Spotify, etc.

I was really blown away by The Dusty Miller album by Gay, Conor, and Sean McKeon when I first heard it, and learned a number of the tunes on it. (Gay is still the head of Na Píobairí Uilleann, I believe).

Callan Bridge by Niall and Cillian Vallely has been one of my favorites since its release.

Certainly the albums from Mick O’Brien/Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Kevin Crawford/Cillian Vallely, and Joey Abarta/Nathan Gourley are all great listening, but a lot of those recordings are in the flat keys.

If you enjoy any of the more polished "modern" music, you might check out Realta (two pipers), or Imar (a lot of their tracks are fairly centered on Ryan Murphy’s piping)

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Robbie Hannan’s _Traditional Music Played On The Uilleann Pipes_ is the one I keep going back to (although much of it is in flat pitch).

You won’t go too far wrong with anything by Brian McNamara, who hasn’t been mentioned on this list yet.

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Ooh - Kieran O’Hare, too (sadly no relation), either his solo CD or as part of the Open The Door For Three recordings.

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Yes "The Drones And The Chanters" albums!

The first one is the old guys- players big in the decades around the 1950s.

The second one is teenage pipers playing 200 year old pipes. (Well not entirely…)

As far as "albums you go back to" for me it’s Doublin’ (Paddy Keenan and Paddy Glackin). It’s fantastic, all pipe and fiddle and the tunes are classic.

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Hate to sound heretical but for me anyway, listening to Pipe Albums is best in small quantities. A little is OK, but after a while, it’s just too much. I could listen happily to fiddle albums and flute, concertina, box etc but it’s easy to overdo on the piping.

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Thank you, everyone, for contributing. I’ve been listening to all of the tracks and samples I could access, and have only been hearing good things. You’re all wonderful :-)

Re: Recommended Listening - Pipe Albums

Jarlath Henderson? Now also being recognised as a very fine singer as well.