Music room

Is Grá liom ceol!


Darragh on stage playing the Uilleann pipes. Darragh playing the Bodhran on stage. Darragh playing the high chiefton D whistle on stage.


Music is great! It can completely change your mood. It can portray an identity or culture and it can just as effectively break dividers. My personal passion is Irish traditional music. From Seamus Ennis to Christy Moore and from the Cores to Sharon Shannon I love them all. My personal favourites are Michael McGoldrick, John Joe Kelly, John McSherry, Maurice Lennon, Davy Spillann, Lúnasa, at first light, Flook, Tommy Cunnif and of course Cara Dillon, Kate Rusby and Julie Fowlis.

On this page you will find videos and audio recordings of some of my performances as well as some of my musical history and highpoints.

I was handed a whistle at an earlier age than I can remember. Strangely enough, I do remember melting the top of a plastic whistle off a gas burner around the same time. I don’t think it was deliberate though… I grew up with music in the house such as planxty, Christy Moore and Horselips so music has always been a major part of my life. When my father decided to try out the pipes, I was right behind him at every lesson begging for a go. Soon enough, I’d taken his set on an extended loan when I was seven or eight to be taught by the renound Mick O’Brien and only returned them to him during early 2009. The first tune I learned on my own by ear was a slow air that Davy spillann played on a CD called Shadow hunter. Although Davy Spillann was frowned upon by many in the music circle because of his very modern style and accompaniment I was and continue to be hugely impressed by his innovativeness. Of course, again, when my father decided he’d take up the Bodhran, I was equally captivated by that. The basy and untamed sound of the Bodhran played by Peadar Mercier was always something I enjoyed however the Pipes are a very demanding instrument so it wasn’t until a few years later when I was in college before I began to seriously play it with the infamous John Joe Kelly as my inspiration.

From age five, I attended both Irish traditional lessons on the whistle and Classical music lessons on the piano. From around this time I was encouraged to compete in the Fleadh ceol as a solo participant and in Slogadh with a band. It was around the early nineties when the band I played with attained first place in the Slogadh Irish traditional music competition. This festival was at a national level and the standard of participation was extremely high.


Willin fools on stage with Darragh on the Low whistle.

From this start in Music, I have continued playing as frequently as possible entertaining the current and past president of Ireland and the previous Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. I have also played in concerts, gigs and sessions extensively around Ireland and have toured regularly over the past five years in Europe and Israel with a local band aptly named the Willin’ fools.

Gigs and lessons

Contact Darragh Ó Héiligh at:
Phone: 0877670464
Email: d@digitaldarragh.com

I provide lessons on Tin Whistle, Low D whistle, Bodhran and of course the Uilleann pipes. Lessons are carried out in my studio in Drogheda in an environment that is relaxed, informal and friendly. Lessons are structured and highly customized to the pupil’s individual needs, requirements and aspirations. With each lesson you will receive any needed notation in the format of your choice example: Score or letter and a CD or MP3 Recording of any tunes or songs you have learned. Unless you do not like to be recorded, a high quality sample will be taken of your progress every month. This will be provided to you every six months to help demonstrate your progress. All age groups and levels are catered for. From the youngest child who is starting off with her or his first instrument to the more mature and experienced player who wants to get back into it, everyone is welcome. I’ll even throw in a cup of tea, coffee or cold drink!

Everyone is different when learning an instrument. However, the recordings below will show you what is generally learned over the first two months. These recordings are generally provided along with others on CD to people after every lesson.

  • Scale of D
    A simple scale of D. Follow along as a finger excersize.
  • Excersize 2
    Try jumping to different notes.
  • Week one.
    This week is spent learning the scale. You will play it straight, with short gaps between each note and while trying to hold each note for a few seconds. You will also begin breathing excersizes.
  • Week 3.
    I’m a little tea pot. Aimed at smaller kids. The tune is learned by listening to the first example. The second and third time it is played is simply to put the tune into context.
  • Separating notes.
    This shows you how to break notes. t is a simple example.
  • The britches full of stitches
    A simple tune called the britches full of stiches.
  • The dawning of the day.
    The dawning of the day. played simply. This is a great tune to learn on.
  • MO gilla mar.
    An old Irish tune. Good for breathing excersizes.
  • Jig 1 in e minor.
    A tune for more advanced players. This is a jig.
  • Hazels jig
    Hazels jig. Great for people who are becoming more comfortable with the whistle.
  • Grace notes, roles and slides.
    A tutorial on ornimentation such as grace notes and slides.

The following are notes to a few tunes that I teach beginners. These are written in letter form. For example: the dawning of the day starts as follows (d e f f f e f a a b f e d f e d d d.). Staff notation can be provided on request.

To get in touch regarding a relaxed, enjoyable lesson on the Uilleann pipes, Tinwhistle or Bodhran email lessons@digitaldarragh.com or call 0877670464.

I’m also available for formal and informal gigs. From Christenings to Weddings to the less celebratory times I can provide music to suit all occasions and moods. The Uilleann pipes are one of the most haunting but equally uplifting instruments in the world. As a solo instrument or as part of a large group they always suit. I have assisted in a number of recordings for bands around the north east of Ireland and have played extensively in Ireland Europe and Israel. I enjoy a challenge and relish the opportunity to play alongside new musicians.

I can organize every part of your gig. From providing amplification, transport, arranging other musicians and even providing the words of the songs to the singers. I enjoy the rapport of an intimate gig as much as the energy and electricity of the stadium concerts.

To talk to me about music that can range from peaceful, to entertaining and lively depending on your event please Email me at gigs@digitaldarragh.com or call 0877670464.

Videos

The following video was recorded in Italy. Here, I am playing a slow air. I will admit, I actually wasn’t particularly prepared this night and didn’t decide what tune I would go into after the slow air. It turned out well though…

Here, I am playing in Italy with the Willin fools. The video below features Oliver, singing his version of Ride on.

The following two videos were taken in the Harcourt Hotel. I wasn’t expecting to play that night and in fact, I only had the pipes with me as I was returning back from a five day tour around Italy with the Willin fools and the pipes were even a little sharp due to the hot climate.

Here are a few reels played in the same venue for the launch of the Harcourt sessions with Tim Edey backing on guitar again.

I was called up onto the stage while visiting Galway to play a few tunes. I had never played music with this guitar player before but it was really good fun!

Bodhran Solo from Italy 2008:

Uilleann pipe solo during a gig in Israeal in 2007

Uilleann pipe solo in italy in 2008.

Sessions

Sessions are unplugged, live, unrehersed and a great chance to unwind. They may not sound as good as a gig but they can often be equally as enjoyable.

Bodhran in a session in Dundalk.

Uilleann pipes in a session in Dundalk

Audio

I think an important part of learning and evolving your own style of playing is listening back over what you have done. for that reason, every six months or so, I create a short recording. You will find some of these below:

As I hope you see from this page, I love music. If you would like to discuss anything on this page with me please email music@digitaldarragh.com



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