Born in millennium 3BC – re-born in millennium 3AD


To celebrate the Galway Early Music Festival and the European City of Culture 2020, Ancient Music Ireland is delighted to present astounding new discoveries around the set of six tuned pipes.  Found in 2003 near Bray, Co. Wicklow lying side by side at the bottom of a fulacht fiadh, the yew wood pipes are carbon dated at 4150 before present.  Within days of the six pipes being found, Ancient Music Ireland was asked by the National Museum of Ireland to identify them.  A paper was presented to a peer review at the International Study Group of Music Archaeology in 2004.  The initial part of the research included the making of exact copies of each pipe.  Various experiments were conducted to generate accurate sounds.  In 2019 after scrutinising the socket connections on each pipe, fipples or tone generators were designed and fitted.

The scale and tuning subsequently revealed in these ancient pipes has re-written the previous existing theory of the origins of instruments that use tuned pipes to play melody.  Such examples are pan pipes and organs.   The accepted perception is that the organ has its beginning in Greece circa. 280 BC.  The Irish fipple pipes are virtually twice as old at 2134 BC.  Yet they produce a scale so similar to the modern tunings that music from the living tradition in Ireland may be played on the fipple pipes.

The presentation will include film of the identification of the original pipes fresh from the find.  The designing of new fipples and the tuning will be discussed and demonstrated.  Tunes will be played live on the new prototype instrument.  Ancient Music Ireland presents the revelation of the fipple pipes as a Jurassic Park moment in the world of music.  The voice of an instrument from millennium 3BC is awakened by newly designed fipples from millennium 3AD.

© Ancient Music Ireland