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    The Irish Uilleann Pipes

    The Irish uilleann (ill-un) pipes, or union pipes, are one of the world's rarest and most beautiful wind instruments. Invented in the early 18th century, these pipes were initially played in the parlors of the gentry and soon became a favorite of all classes of society. Unlike most other bagpipes, the uilleann pipes are not blown by mouth, but by a bellows strapped to the player's arm. The pipes' sweet tone make them specially suited for playing indoors. The sound of the chanter, or melody pipe, is akin to that of the oboe, and is supported by soft drones and an unusual configuration of organ-like bass stops called regulators. An early 19th-century writer described the instrument as "a little Band in itself."


    Irish Uilleann Pipes circa 1830