My musical background is in rock, folk, church music, old-time and a little bluegrass. I have recently taken an interest in Irish music and I now participate in a weekly session and I am also taking Irish mando lessons. I am really enjoying it, but I have a lot to learn.
One of the things I don't understand is Uilleann pipes. I have heard some great recordings of Uilleann pipes and I have heard the saying that "It takes 21 years to make a piper." So I know they are capable of sounding great, but they are really hard to play. My experience with them in local sessions has been interesting. What follows are my tongue-in-cheek, newbie observations:
> Pipes take a long time to set up and tune, but they aren't always in tune when they play.
> Pipes need a lot of maintenenance during a session. Pipers seem to always be tinkering with thier instrument. One guy I played with had to super-glue some fitting on his pipes twice during a session.
> As wonderful as most Irish music is, pipers seem to like to call "pipe tunes" that sound atonal and tedious. When they call these tunes, most of the other players just sit out.
> Pipers, more than other players, seem to want to "noodle" with thier instrument between tunes and thier noodling is also atonal and tedious.
> Two sets of pipes playing together go way beyond atonal and tedious, all the way to cacaphonous.
> Pipers seem to be more vocal about the mistakes the rest of the session group is making.
> When really difficult tunes get called, pipers tend to switch to tin whistle, which sounds a lot better.
> The tone the pipes produce ranges variously from sounding like a kids' kazoo, a duck call, a cartoon car horn and, there is no better way to say it, extreme flatulence.
So, is my experience atypical? Am I missing something? Are pipes an essential part of Irish music that one acquires a taste for over time?