The wrong pronunciation of the word Uilleann pipes is something Uilleann pipers have to deal with daily.
I have heard them called about a dozen wrong names and normally I will just tell people they are “Irish Bagpipes” to avoid having to explain the proper pronunciation. In this blog post we will set it straight once and for all. The word Uilleann means “elbow” and is pronounced one of two ways.
Say the word ILL
Say the letter E
Say the word UN, as in the word “UN-stable”
Same as above you just don’t pronounce the “E” in the middle.
Both ILL-EEE-UN or ILL-UN are acceptable ways to pronounce the word Uilleann pipes and if you are still having problems pronouncing the word correctly then just say Irish Pipes.
What's the first tune I should learn on the Uilleann Pipes is a question I hear all the time. I always recommend that you learn songs that you already know such as "Old Macdonald" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and you can learn those on the Uilleann Pipes here. However, the best "tune" as in an Irish melody and not a children's song to learn on the Uilleann Pipes in my opinion is "Dawn of the Day."
Dawn of the Day is an easy tune that only uses the first octave. Plus, you can get by without playing any cuts or ornamentation and it sounds good as a slow air or a march. Also, it’s a beautiful tune that most people involved in Irish music will know since almost ever Irish musician learns this tune as one of their firsts. If you wish to learn it on the Uilleann Pipes, check out my lesson here.
If you interested in learning the Uilleann Pipes please check out my site here.
Here is the sheet music for the tune if you just want to give it a try!