O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 22

O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 22
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periodical Publisher
Regan Printing House, Chicago, 1913
periodical Editor
[none]
periodical Title
O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians
volume Number
1
issue Content
42 Iris/i Minstrels and MusiciansThe Bagpipe, Its Antiquity and DistributionThe war pipe may be of either design when blown from the mouth, but itwill be noticed that Uilleann as a descriptive term for the bagpipe did not comeinto use before the last quarter of the sixteenth century_ 1 5 8 4 , Grattan Floodsays, and that was about the time when the change just menioned took place.However, the Uilleann pipes of those days were still the warpipes or Piob Mor;and they must not be confounded with the Uilleann or Union pipes which werepractically a new instrument, developed in the early years of the eighteenthcentury.Shakespeares woollen bagpipe, so frequently alluded to, and of lateplausibly explained as meaning Uilleann bagpipe, affords no cause for specula-tion in the edition of his works in the writers library, published in 1803, forthe expression is plainly printed swollen bagpipe; a designation singularlyappropriate.After the Uilleann pipes had been modified in tone, and blown with a bel-lows, and had the drones arranged compactly and horizontally in a stock, theinstrument was more in demand at social gatherings, and such festivities asweddings and christenings; but this type, on which the piper played whileseated, did not by any means supplant the Piob illor at funerals, football andhurling matches. Only a generation or so ago, Mr. Wm. Halpin of Newmarket.on-Fergus headed the Clare hurlers on their way to compete with their Limerickrivals, playing on a set of Highland pipes, which was in fact the Piob Mor ofboth Scotland and Ireland for many a day, though a third drone had been added.As Grattan Flood says, from grave to gay, the bagpipe was requisitioned,and no important Irish funeral took place unless headed by a band of warpipers. At the burial of a remarkable dwarf piper named Mathew Hardy, in1737, the funeral cortege was led by eight couple of pipers, playing a funeraldirge composed by OCarolan. Gradually the warpipes were superseded bythe Union pipes for domestic use, and by trumpets and drums for military pur-poses. .The last occasion of which there is any historical mention of Irish pipersin war was at the battle of Fontenoy, May ii, 1745, when the Irish Brigade inthe service of France turned the tide of battle against the English troops. Veryappropriately, two of the tunes those intrepid expatriated pipers pealed out wereThe White Cockade and Saint Patricks Day in the Morning.In Dissertations on the Histor of Ireland, published in 1766, the learnedCharles OConor of Belanagar says: The instrumental music in the chase, asin the field of battle, was sounded by wind instruments, what they called Adhar-caidh Cuiul. This term is literalh musical horns, and not a musical bag, astranslated by Walker and others. What words could more aptly describe a setof bagpipes of the old type than musical horns?In his correspondence with Dr. Walker at a much later date, OConor men-tions the Cuisle Cuiul as a simple kind of bagpipe, loud-toned and confined toa bare octave. This number of notes agrees exactly with the primitive bagpipepictured in Dr. Ledwicljs Antiquities of Ireland, which has but six vents forthe fingers and one for the thumb. An additional vent for the little finger ofthe right hand, of later introduction, increased the capacity or compass of theso-called warpipe chanter.When the Piob Mor or \varpipe was transformed into the Irish or Unionpipes, is largely a matter of conjecture, as the old form continued in use longafter the transformation was made. The first performer on the improved instru-ment of whom we have any historical record was Lawrence Grogan of Johns-town Castle, Wexford. Grattan Flood credits him with the authorship of both43words and music of Ally Croker, in the year 1725. We must, therefore, placethe origin of the Irish pipes some few years before that date.As the harp declined, the new type of bagpipe, improved from time to time,gained immensely in popularity. The extent to which it had been developed froma loud-toned instrument of but one note more than an octave in compass,to two full octaves, may be realized from Dr. Burneys description in 1775:The instrument at present in use in Ireland, he says, is an improved bagpipe,on which I have heard some of the natives play very well in two parts withoutthe drone, which I believe is never attempted in Scotland. The tone of thelower notes resembles that of a hautbois and clarionet, and the high notes that ofa German flute, and the whole scale of one I heard lately was very well in tune,which has never been the case of any Scots bagpipe that I ever heard. TheIrish bagpipe in its improved form had not been deemed unworthy of the earof royalty, at least a score of years before the date of Dr. Burneys description,for a footnote in Walkers Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards informs usthat George the Second was so much delighted with the performance of anIrish gentleman on the bagpipes that he ordered a medal to he struck for him.Modern writers assure us with confidence that the qualifying word Union,as applied to the improved Irish bagpipe, is simply a corruption of the Irish termUilleann, in use for over two hundred years. Quite as plausibly might weadvance the claim that the word Union is aptly descriptive of the modern Irishinstrument, which is in fact a union of two instrumentsnamelY, the simplebagpipe and the organ. Since the adoption of the regulators which produce theorgan tones, the Irish or Union pipes have been frequently alluded to as theIrish organ.It will be noticed that Dr. Burney, above quoted, makes no mention ofkeys or regulators on the improved bagpipe of his day, nor are there anyon the fine old specimens of an Irish bagpipe pictured on page 40 of DuncanFrasers work on The Bagpipe, although it has four drones closely set in thestock. Elaborate instruments or sets, equipped with keyed chanter and regu-lators, were turned out between 1770 and 1790, by the elder Kenna, a renownedpipemaker of Dublin, and it was about that time, or perhaps later, that the Irishbagpipe became known as the Union Pipes. As a specimen of a still earlierdevelopment of the Union bagpipe, the picture of the Carlow instrument pre-sents an interesting study.This name, as far as the present writer is aware, was first seen in print inOFarrells Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes, publishedabout the end of the eighteenth century. The following extract from theauthors introduction would seem to justify the name:The Union PipesBeing an instrument now so much improved as rendersit able to play any kind of Music, and with the additional accompanyments whichbelong to it, produce a variety of pleasing Harmony which forms as it were alittle Band in itself.Not a few combining both musical and mechanical genius contributed tothe further development of the Union pipes, down to late in the nineteenth cen-tury. The number of regulators were increased to three in standard instru-ments; then a fourth, and even a fifth, was ultimately added, until, as Mansonthe Scotch authority says, the Irish pipes have been elaborated to such a degrethat they have almost ceased to he bagpipes.
issue Number
1
page Number
22
periodical Author
O'Neill, Capt. Francis
issue Publication Date
1913-01-01T00:00:00
allowedRoles
anonymous,guest,friend,member

O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians

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