Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 22

Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 22
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
An Píobaire
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Píobaire, An 9 5 22 20131126 Terry Moylan 22 C -NATURAL, when explored in all its depth and nuance on the chanter of the uilleann pipes, can be the instrument’s most characteristic note and its most expres- sive. When you think of the music of great pipers, it is impossible not to be struck by the range of different ways this one note can sound. A piper’s C-natural can be one of the most recognizable and beautiful aspects of her or his playing, in slow airs as well as in more lively dance music. The fingering for C-natural that is most often taught to beginners on the uilleann pipes, while perhaps a useful introduction to that note, is of little value later on to the player who wishes to achieve full musical fluency on the instrument and mastery of its music. This fingering, whereby C-natural is sounded by lifting the index finger of the top hand on the chanter and the middle finger of the bottom hand, creates a sound that is tonally dead, dull, and lacking in potential relative to other methods of fingering the note. It is quite common and usual for ac- complished pipers never to use this fingering, having graduated to better, more colourful methods. It is often difficult for learners to figure out how to approach this note, despite the vast amount of good video of pipers available on the internet, including, of course, on the web- site of Na Píobairí Uilleann. Having heard Willie Clancy playing a slow air like “The Rocks of Bawn”, or Ennis’ version of “The Gold Ring”, or Liam O’Flynn playing “O’Far- rell’s Welcome to Limerick”, they know the sound of C-natural should be different – some- thing more – than what they are able to pro- duce with the simple cross-fingering described above. They remain at a loss as to how to get a great sounding, wide C-natural. They will try different ways to coax a ‘nyaa’, for lack of a better term, out of this cross-fingering, but in the end are like Einstein’s description of some- one doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results... ~ TECHNIQUE ~ An Introduction to C natural Kieran O’Hare Emmett Gill demonstrates the desired finger posi- tion, with both G fingers raised (the lower one being used to create vibrato), and the C finger re- maining in contact with the chanter as it is straight- ened.
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An Píobaire, Volume 9, Issue 5

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