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Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

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  • Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

    Folks that play pipes in a band --

    Do you play any additional instruments with the band such as whistle, flute, or different flavors of piping? If so, how would you say your repertoire is divided among each instrument?

    Practice is the best of all instructors. - Publilius Syrus

    My Piping Blog- A student's musings on learning the Great Highland Bagpipe.

  • #2
    Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

    I play whistle and fiddle, and Uilleann pipes to an extent.

    Although I play some tunes across multiple instruments, generally speaking I learn and play tunes on the instrument that suits it best. That said, as time goes by, I'm finding it easier and easier to move tunes between instruments.
    -- Formerly known as CalumII


    • #3
      Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

      Depends on the set/show... Primarily highland pipes, with a bit of whistle and flute at the moment (1 per set or so). A few years ago, I had 1-2 uilleann pipe songs per set and 2-3 whistle/flute songs (out of say a 12 song set).

      Ultimately I felt the physical damage being done to the uilleann pipes (just a more delicate instrument) made it not worth bringing them out...
      Matt Willis Bagpiper
      YouTube Channel Winner of the 2020 The Big Rab Show Awards for Best Social Media!
      Personal Website


      • #4
        Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

        Equal parts smallpipes, border pipes, uilleann pipes, and whistle here.


        • #5
          Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

          Highland pipes, smallpipes, whistle, and synthesizer. I've recently gotten involved in a group where I play the synth and the whistles about 50/50. I'd still say GHB is my main instrument, even though I'm not playing it much right now.


          • #6
            Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

            Highland pipes and tin whistle, probably about 80% of what we do are pipe tunes, the other 20% whistle. The reason I learned the tin whistle is to add new and different songs, break up the set, allow us to play in different keys. Because of all that, I rarely try to cross over with any songs or tunes.


            • #7
              Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

              I'm a serial monogamist when it comes to instruments.

              Currently, I play GHB, smallpipes, uilleann pipes, wooden flute, whistle, and--just to be extra obtuse--Arabic and Turkish ouds (different tuning).

              In the past, I've also played piano, guitar, electric bass, and trombone, although I don't play them often enough these days to say that I really "play" them...

              I was pretty serious into GHB and smallpipes in my teens and early 20s, and at the time, I played a lot of Irish tunes on them and lots of stuff with slides, C and F naturals, that kind of thing. Then I discovered uilleann pipes and my GHB rarely saw the light of day for about 12 years...

              Having got my ya-yas out on UP for so long, I came back to GHB really wanting to play heavy competition tunes and piobaireachd... Maybe I was looking for the illusion of control in my life or something... I just woke up one morning thinking, "I need to play 2/4 marches RIGHT NOW!!!!" So heavy competition stuff is mostly what I play on the GHB at this point (even though I don't currently compete--still on the fence about that)... I still like to play some West Coast Scottish and Cape Breton stuff and also a handful of Breton tunes, but I mostly save Irish tunes for flute and UP. I play a few GHB tunes on flute, and there are a few in D that sound great on UP, but I've never made much effort to transfer my repertoire across all the instruments I play.


              • #8
                Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

                I've been playing Highland pipes, uilleann pipes, and Irish whistle since the 1970s.

                For over a decade I've been playing a nice antique set of Scottish Smallpipes.

                In the trad trio I've been playing with for nearly 30 years I play uilleann pipes, whistles, Scottish smallpipes, and bodhran.

                The repertoire dictates the instrument for me. ITM works far better on uilleann pipes and Irish whistle, Highland pipe tunes work far better on SSPs. (The other members of the trio, on fiddle and guitar, don't normally switch instruments, but in a crisis the fiddler might break out her accordion!)

                The GHBs are strictly for the Pipe Band and solo gigs, for me.

                Those instruments are my current situation. Go back 20 years and I was regularly playing for Bulgarian dances on Gaida and Kaval, doing duet gigs with a Spanish guy on Gaitas, and playing Cornish gigs on a set of Julian Goodacre Cornish Double Pipes.

                I also played Border pipes and Northumbrian pipes for a few years.

                Then there was the Andean music! I played Kenas and Sikus.

                I've got rid of all that extra stuff. I don't do those gigs any more and I don't need those instruments.

                I got rid of my Irish flutes too (I played flute for 30 years) due to persistent hand cramping.
                Last edited by pancelticpiper; 08-05-2019, 08:08 PM.
                proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte


                • #9
                  Re: Celtic multi-instrumentalists?

                  One of the bands in which I play does traditional Celtic music plus old-time Appalachian tunes. We host a monthly Celtic jam; in that I play my SSP when it's my turn and I feel like it or someone requests them, which they actually do sometimes!! In performances, I often will play the initial number in a set on SSP to let the crowd know we are starting up again and since not all feel comfortable playing with pipes. After that, I'll go back to guitar and occasional number on the recorder. The big pipes are only used for the pipe band and solo gigs.


                  • #10
                    Playing in... and with... some groups as I...in the past have...
                    I included... with the pipes... the guitar... the drum(s)... a
                    child's fife... and a boran...

                    And all... purely... Catch As Catch Can... :-)

                    My friends all know,
                    With what a brave carouse...


                    • #11
                      Snare drum in band Guitar (poorly until my hand hurts), recorder (learned sitting in SoCal traffic), banjo because its bar chords, and anything you can hit with stick or hand.
                      Loud is Easy, Soft is Hard


                      • #12
                        When I used to play tuba in Trad Jazz bands and German Bands, I would sometimes bring my GHB and play a set while the band took a break. I have also played banjo, smallpipes and borderpipes at sessions.
                        Slainte Leibh/ Slan Leat, Bob Cameron


                        • #13
                          A bit late,

                          I primarily play Irish flute in an Irish trad/alt country band. John Prine covers sandwiched between dance tunes. I also play UP's, whistle, bouzouki, or mandolin for some tunes. I love playing all of them but the load in/load out sucks.

                          I actually started up on this forum because I'm interested in adding SSP's to the mix to supplement or (gasp!) replace the UP's.


                          • #14
                            Years ago when I was at the Pipers' Gathering (2013) I was observing a group of six or seven smallpipe players chatting. I was surprised and delighted to discovered that all but one of them had at least some bassoon background. I also played bassoon a bit in 9th and 10th grade so consider myself in the best of company