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Archive for October 2012


It's the day for the International Brother and Sisterhood of Doublereedism to stand up and be nerdy and obstreperous in glorious union, so here's a tune to that end.

Seamus Ennis played this single jig, but perhaps the most memorable recording of it came from the great piper and pipe maker R.L. O'Mealy who brilliantly brought out the inherent rhythm of the melody with his precise style and vigorous regulator accompaniment. Speaking of O'Mealy, O'Neill wrote:

“He is a most interesting psychological subject,” writes one correspondent, “artistic and sensitive; but a decenter fellow than O’Mea1y you could not meet. As a performer of airs, he is most expressive, but as to dance tunes - jigs, reels, and hornpipes - he can turn them off with the greatest rhythmic point and humor. Only to know him socially would not lead one to think him gifted in this way. His playing of the reels is full of that ineffable, buoyant flow that only the best pipers know the secret of. His finger technique is as complete as any I've known, and his use of the regulators. the expressive ringing tones of his treinolo (or, more correctly, his vibrato) are wonderful.

“As a pipemaker he is no less remarkable. All the work - wood work, brazing, turning ivories, curing skins for bellows and bags - is done by his own hands. What he doesn't know about the making and repairing of pipes isn’t much. It was in the blood of the family.”

Although originally from Co Westmeath, O'Mealy took up residence in Belfast and was active as a performer and pipe maker there. Read O'Neill's full entry on him (from 'Irish Minstrels and Musicians') HERE.


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The Bucks of Oranmore (Reel)

This reel is quite the piping workout. I like to practice it more-or-less in the Ennis mode (as played here) to keep me thinking about some of the key elements of tight-ish playing styles, and Ennis' approach in general. The more obvious things which spring to mind as occurring in it are; the tightnesses on the bottom hand of the second octave particularly in the 4th part, the ACA tight triplet in the first, the popping of the notes G and F sharp in the second octave, the Ennisean inverted crans-type things, the trill on the high A in the third part, the trills on the E and F sharp in the 4th part...

All the great pipers have played this, and it's a very common tune in Irish music to the extent that it is affectionately known in music circles as simply "The Bucks". A 'buck' in Irish tune nomenclature generally denotes a young man; 'a young buck' is often used in the northern counties meaning a young lad in a similar fashion.

You can see and hear Ennis going to town on this one for a delighted audience HERE.

I tried placing the mic differently on the concert pitch set to get a more ambient sound... what I got seems to be too much drones and a lot of bellows sounds. Ah well. Better luck next time.


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