Sunday 24 July 2016

Sunday morning sublime - Liam O'Flynn plays the air, Dark Slender Boy on Uilleann pipes

When I got to know his work, Liam O'Flynn played the pipes in an Irish folk group called Planxty. He is one of those musicians that bring something extra and indefinable to their performances, something to do with the lyricism of the phrasing. This particular piece always brings tears to my eyes.

For those who don't know - the Irish 'Uilleann' bagpipes are blown with a bellows under the left arm, the chanter (the bit you play) can be left open and sounding all the time (like Scottish bagpipes) or closed by being pressed against the thigh to that the notes are separated (like the Northumbrian pipes) - and there are some chordal 'regulators' that can be sounded by pressure from the right wrist or fingers (some pipers never use these - eg Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains - O'Flynn uses them sparingly to great effect).

To my ear, the Uilleann pipes (played well) open-up a direct path to something wild, deep, joyous and tragic in the human soul.

Here is O'Flynn is playing some faster stuff: hornpipes:

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