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Chad Thorne
Feb-11-2007, 6:54pm
Anybody here play one? Or can answer this question? My wife is thinking about taking up the penny whistle. What are the notes? Is it a regular major scale? And if so, that must mean that if you want to play a Celtic tune with a flat 7 (Mixolydian scale), you'd have to choose a whistle pitched a fourth above the tonal center you're playing in?

MikeB
Feb-11-2007, 8:15pm
Hey, Chad, I would suggest you go to here, for starters. They know everything about penny whistles. Chiff & Fipple (http://www.chiffandfipple.com/)

Dagger Gordon
Feb-12-2007, 1:14am
I play the whistle a bit.

You want to buy an ordinary one in the key of D to get started. I wouldn't know how easy it is to buy one where you are, but they're widely available in any music shop in Britain.

Bertram Henze
Feb-12-2007, 3:19am
Yes, and yes. The letter printed on the whistle is the base note of a major scale (aka Ionian scale). For other scales with a given base note, the major scale needed (= the whistle needed) is determined by the appropriate transposition for that scale.
Most whistles I have seen are d and g. Most players can cover 2 octaves with a whistle, which is often a limitation to playing fiddle tunes - whistlers tend to shift the "outside" notes up or down by one octave into their range.

Bertram

nigelgatherer
Feb-12-2007, 3:35am
No, Chad - the problem of the flat seventh is easily solved by cross-fingering. See this webpage (http://www.nigelgatherer.com/whistle/tut_6/6-2.html) for an explanation. Most people playing Celtic music will use a D whistle, on which you can play a surprising amount of keys: D major, E minor, F sharp minor*, G major, A major*, A minor*, B minor, plus a few handy modal keys. Encourage your wife, and I look forward to reports of your playing beautiful music together!

* = with some slight fingering modifications

Soupy1957
Feb-12-2007, 4:50am
Believe it or not, I have a Jack Russell that I named "Miss Penny Whistle" in honor of the "Penny Whistle."

-Soupy1957

Chad Thorne
Feb-12-2007, 5:59am
Thanks, all! Susanna is in nursing school, so doesn't have tons of time to devote to developing an embouchure or building up callouses, so tootly-tooting on a tin whistle might be fun and relaxing, too.

PseudoCelt
Feb-12-2007, 8:42am
If you can find one, I'd recommend a "Meg" whistle, made by Clarke. They are dirt cheap and IMHO sound very good, better than many other cheap whistles.

My Dad probably has at least 50 whistles, some very expensive, and chooses to play Megs most of the time.

Patrick

otterly2k
Feb-12-2007, 10:54am
penny whistle is easy (and cheap) to start on ... and gratifying. It takes tiem to build up speed... but in the meantime they sound wonderful on airs and waltzes. great idea... go for it.

Chadmills
Feb-12-2007, 4:45pm
I'd second the recommendation for the Clarke tapered bore whistles, either the rolled "tin" ones or those with a plastic mouthpiece.

A very basic suggestion for "Celtic" whistle playing. It ain't a recorder! Avoid "tonguing" (!!) Use a kind of "throat clearing" or very gentle cough instead. (I think I'd better stop here, I'm getting into deep water!)
Tom

glauber
Feb-12-2007, 5:08pm
Here are a few places to get you started:

(1) Chiff & Fipple, already mentioned above. Don't miss the discussion board (http://chiffboard.mati.ca/).

(2) The Whistle Shop (http://www.thewhistleshop.com/). More whistles than you can shake a stick at, good prices, great service. If you're in the USA, they're a good place to buy.

(3) Brother Steve (http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/): the best tutorial for Irish music on the whistle.

(4) Last but not least: Alba (http://albawhistles.com/) - my favorite maker. Tell Stacey that Glauber sent you. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

ShaneJ
Feb-12-2007, 7:56pm
Another question about penny whistles....shouldn't they now be called nickel whistles or dime whistles due to inflation? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Chad Thorne
Feb-12-2007, 9:03pm
Another question about penny whistles....shouldn't they now be called nickel whistles or dime whistles due to inflation? #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
More like 10 dollar whistles... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Chad Thorne
Feb-14-2007, 2:00pm
Well, we ordered this one in D: http://www.thewhistleshop.com/catalog....rke.htm (http://www.thewhistleshop.com/catalog/whistles/inexpensive/Clarke/naturalclarke/clarke.htm)

Can't wait til it gets here! http://www.websmileys.com/sm/happy/1074.gif

EdSherry
Feb-14-2007, 4:16pm
Chad, the "original" Clarke whistles (like you ordered) may not be your best choice. IMHO, they are an acquired taste. I much prefer the Clarke MEG or the Generation among the "beginner" whistles. The plastic mouthpiece on the MEG makes it easier (IMHO) to get a good sound.

Chad Thorne
Feb-14-2007, 5:45pm
Thanks, Ed. Well, they're inexpensive enough; if need be we'll pick up one with a plastic mouthpiece.

Dagger Gordon
Feb-15-2007, 1:13am
Glauber,

Stacey at Alba lives quite near me. Have you been to this part of the world?

Dagger

PaulD
Feb-15-2007, 8:39am
Thanks, Ed. Well, they're inexpensive enough; if need be we'll pick up one with a plastic mouthpiece.
Chad; I've got one of these Clarke Naturals and an Acorn. The Acorn is much easier to play, not that I can play worth a <insert excretive expletive>. I looked at the Whistle Shop site you posted and they offer a "tweak" to the mouthpiece that I may try. They document it on the site, so if your wife doesn't like the way your new whistle plays maybe that is an option.

Paul

PseudoCelt
Feb-15-2007, 9:05am
I like the Clarkes that I've played that have the wooden fipple. They have a more breathy sound that IMO really suits Irish tunes. Some of them do need a lot of air to get a good sound and I think the "tweak" is supposed to improve this, but removes some of the breathiness.

One of the nice things about whistles is that most of them are cheap enough that you can try a range of different makes/models without spending too much.

Patrick

glauber
Feb-15-2007, 10:14am
Glauber,

Stacey at Alba lives quite near me. Have you been to this part of the world?

Dagger
Unfortunately not, but i talked with her a couple of times on the phone and i'm often at her Web forum. She's into mandolins now, but has a fascination for Antonio Tsai.
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

glauber
Feb-15-2007, 10:24am
One of the nice things about whistles is that most of them are cheap enough that you can try a range of different makes/models without spending too much.
Be afraid... be very afraid...

WHOA = Whistle Obsessive Acquisition Disease

Check out these resources for beginners:

Whistle Shop beginners page (http://www.thewhistleshop.com/beginners/beginner.htm)
Chiff and Fipple Whistle Guides (http://chiffandfipple.com/) (scroll down the page to find them).

There are basically 2 tribes: people who like the original, cheap whistles (Generations, Feadog, Clarke, etc) and people who like the fancy expensive ones (Overtons, Silkstone, Alba, etc). I stand more or less with one leg on each camp. Something to check is the "tweaked" whistles, where someone takes a cheap whistle and improves on it. Jerry Freeman (USA) is one of these guys - i think he sells exclusively through eBay or directly - you can find him at the Chiff & Fipple board. Another one is Cillian O'Briain (Ireland).

There is also another division: those who play high pitched whistles, who tend to go for Irish dance music, and low whistles, who tend to go for New Age stuff.

And so on... whistles are a good easy entrance into the world of flutes.


FWIW, IMHO, Clarkes are OK; different but fun to play. There are tweaked Clarkes too, sold by The Whistle Shop.

glauber
Feb-15-2007, 10:29am
FWIW, i'm a high-whistle guy, although i do have a handful of low whistles. My favourites after much experimentation are (not in any particular order): O'Briain, Alba, Humphrey, Silkstone, Freeman, Water Weasel. Any of of these could be my "desert island" whistle.

PaulD
Feb-15-2007, 10:58am
My problem with my Clarke with the wooden fipple is that I have a hard time getting the breath or embouchure or something right for the high octave. I can play it fine in the lower octave and the first few notes of the upper octave. I'm sure much of that is that I haven't really put much time into the whistle... I find it hard enough to break from life and put time into my fiddle and mandolin! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif No worries... it's all good when I can break away and play and the whistle would be a fun addition if I could get consistent enough to break it out in a jam.

pd

Jim MacDaniel
Feb-15-2007, 11:06am
BTW, if you already have TablEdit for yourself, it has two nice features that may also benefit your wife in her new musical pursuit:
1) It can open ABC files, and display them in notation and tab
2) It can display tab for whistles

PseudoCelt
Feb-15-2007, 11:36am
My problem with my Clarke with the wooden fipple is that I have a hard time getting the breath or embouchure or something right for the high octave. I can play it fine in the lower octave and the first few notes of the upper octave. I'm sure much of that is that I haven't really put much time into the whistle...
I know what you mean, though I have problems getting up to the top few notes on any whistle, so for me, the Clarkes aren't really any different! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Speaking of "desert island whistles", my father retired recently. As a retirement present from his colleagues, he was given two solid silver Copeland whistles. They are by far the nicest sounding whistles I've played, but perhaps only for the chronic WAS sufferer...

Despite "not really being a whistle player", I still have at least six whistles, all cheap ones.

Patrick

PaulD
Feb-15-2007, 11:59am
BTW, if you already have TablEdit for yourself, it has two nice features that may also benefit your wife in her new musical pursuit:
1) It can open ABC files, and display them in notation and tab
2) It can display tab for whistles
This is actually a very cool feature... it's how I've learned the fingering for some of the few tunes I've worked on other than just playing by ear.

pd

FredB
Feb-19-2007, 12:42am
Chad,
I have played for several years now and enjoy it to death. I started with the Feadog, Oak/Acorn and the "breathy" Clarkes types. They seem to play pretty well. But typically lack in responsiveness, are harder to play in tune across the scale, and are not easliy tunable.

so I moved on to Water Weasels and Susatos in different keys. They are plastic. In fact, the Weasels are made from PVC pipe. But they just respond a lot better and seem to be easier to play in tune. Also they are made to be #tunable. I got mine from Grey Larsen. I would also recommend his book "The Essential Tin Whistle Tool Box", invaluable for helping one to understand that "Irish" sound and how to get it on the whistle.

You are right in your comment about getting an alternate scale. There is a special fingering that flats the 7th in the whistle's key. It's not some funky half holing thing. It has the effect of removing a sharp (or adding a flat for a whistle that has no sharps in its key). Just cover the 2nd and 3rd holes on the top 3 holes (left hand) and, voila, you have a flatted 7th (eg: C# ==> C natural for a D whistle). With this fingering, you can start on G, hit a C instead of a C# as you go up the scale. And you have G scale.

So with any of the whistles, you have it's diatonic root scale and a diatonic scale for its 4th. And for a bonus, you also get the scales for the relative minors ...D==>Bm, G==>Em. With several different keyed whistles and there isn't too much you can't play#http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif # # #I have an E, various D's, and C's, a Bb, and an A for just about any key. Really comes in handy for songs that have key changes.

Irish whistle is one of the easiest instruments to get a start on, making it almost immediately satisfying. But it also can be one of the most complex instruments to play as you progress. There is so much. But that's the fun.
Hope this has helped,
Fred