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Free Uilleann Pipes Tutorial

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Seán Potts

Seán PottsSeán Potts was born in Dublin in 1967. The Potts name has long been synonymous with traditional music in Dublin, and Seán continues an important tradition of piping in the family which dates back to his great grandfather John Potts, a piper from Co Wexford who came to live in the Irish capital early in the 20th century.

Seán's father, Seán Sr., was a founder member of The Chieftains and is the current chairman of Na Piobairi Uilleann in Dublin. His granduncle Tommy Potts was one of Ireland's most unique fiddle players while Eddie Potts, another granduncle, was also a piper and fiddle player of note.

Seán has toured and performed extensively over the years. He has recorded with the Dónal Lunny Band, Bakerswell, and Na Connerys, and he has just completed his first solo CD. He regularly teaches at summer schools in Ireland; within Europe at piping conventions in Germany, France and Belgium; in the United States at the Gaelic Roots festival in Boston, and most recently at the West Coast Piping Tionól in San Francisco.

Seán plays in a closed-fingering, vibrant style, influenced largely by the great piping masters Séamus Ennis, Tommy Reck, and Willie Clancy. He also identifies his contemporaries as having a profound effect on his music; especially pipers such as Ronan Browne, Robbie Hannan and Joe McLaughlin. He also has a great interest in the fiddle music of South West Donegal, and particularly in the music of legendary travelling fiddle player John Doherty. Several of Doherty’s tunes form an intrinsic part of Seán’s repertoire.

Seán performs two jigs, Munster Buttermilk and Na Ceannabháin Bhána on an Andreas Rogge plumb-wood set, pitched in the key of B. All the lessons are delivered on a Peter Hunter concert pitch chanter.

The set of pipes shown on the cover of this tutorial were made by the elder of the Kenna brothers of Mullingar during the 1770s. They are made of native boxwood, ivory and brass and the drones were tuned to G. They have been housed in the Traditional Music Archive at University College Cork, since their donation there during the 1950s.

How To Hold The Uilleann Pipes

The bag is filled with air from the bellows; then pressure is applied to the bag and the air flows into the reed at the top of the chanter. The second octave is achieved by applying greater pressure to the bag.

The instrument is held and sounded as follows:

Play Video ⬇

Beginners - The Scale of D

The D scale is fingered as outlined below. The third and seventh notes of the scale (the F and the C) are both sharp. The scale of D is written as follows:

scale of d

Play Video ⬇

Advanced Reels

The following reels are aimed at the more advanced player, although I have kept the versions as straightforward as possible.

The Boys Of The Lough

This is an excellent reel full of zest. This particular version is attributed to Robbie Hannan, the eminent piper from Belfast. Robbie plays a terrific variation in the second part to conclude the tune; I have included this in the manuscript. There is no new ornamentation covered here but be sure to play the long rolls in the first part in time.

The Boys Of The Lough

Play A Part ⬇

Play B Part ⬇

Play Full Tune ⬇