Irish Music: Irish Folk Music Instruments
Instruments that originated with Irish music have a rich history of Irish tradition. The traditional Irish drum, a Bodhran is part of the foundation of Irish Music. The Bodhran has been called the heartbeat of Irish music because of it’s understated haunting rhythms. Ullieann pipes are native to Irish music. They are the Irish version of the Scottish bagpipes. Penny whistles are another instrument that are distinctively Irish. They are popular in Irish music because they in inexpensive and not as difficult to play as other Irish instruments when starting out.
Irish Music: The Irish Bodhrán
The bodhrán is a traditional Irish drum with a wooden frame and a dried goatskin head. Irish bodhráns are are held in one hand by a bar positioned across their backs. The other hand beats the drum with a double-headed stick called the “cipin.” Irish bodhrán heads are sometimes decorated with Celtic artwork or knot work. For centuries, the bodhrán was used primarily as a war drum and later reserved for music festivals but is now featured in many Celtic orchestras. Irish bodhráns should not drown out the melody; instead, they are designed to complement the rest of the instruments and to maintain rhythm. The word bodhrán means “deaf.”
Irish Music: The Irish Uilleann Pipes
Unlike the Scottish bagpipe, the Irish uilleann, or “elbow,” pipes are not blown by mouth but are inflated by bellows. The bellows are attached to the elbow of whichever arm is not holding the pipes and are pumped to fill the bags with air. One of the most difficult Irish instruments to play, these pipes require sound technical training. A set of Irish uilleann pipes includes the bellows, a bag, chanter, drones and regulators. The drones maintain constant background music while the regulator keys, operated by the musician’s wrist, are used to play chords. The chanter produces the melody and is similar to playing the flute.
Irish Music: The Irish Penny Whistle
Irish penny whistles, also known as tin whistles, are usually made of rolled nickel or brass and have six holes and a mouthpiece similar to a recorder. Penny whistles have a two-octave range and are available in several different keys. The fingerings are not unlike those of the saxophone, clarinet, and flute. While it may be fairly easy to start playing the whistle, mastering proper breathing techniques and improvisational skills can take years.