Dark Slender Boy – Liam O’Flynn

I’m by no means an expert on the Uilleann pipes, but the sad death of Liam O’Flynn (after a long struggle with cancer) a few weeks ago gave me occasion to hear some recordings of his, and I was captivated by the amazing sounds coming from this instrument.

The Uilleann pipes look a bit like a much larger version of the Northumbrian smallpipes I am familiar with from the region of my birth, in that the bag is inflated using an elbow pump, but they have a much wider range – two octaves – and can play sharps and flats. A master such as Liam O’Flynn could also generate a range of other effects, by bending notes in much the same way as a jazz or blues musician would, and also achieving subtle changes of tone and volume. Here’s a lovely example of his art, a solo performance of a tune called Dark Slender Boy on which he conjures up a world of musical possibilities.

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One Response to “Dark Slender Boy – Liam O’Flynn”

  1. O’Flynn was one of the founders of Planxty, a hugely influential modern folk-beat combo.

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