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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:48 am 
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Hello there,

Recently I got interested in American old time music (mostly with fiddle tunes of this kind, for example). Some tunes are really nice to play on the tin whistle, and I wondered if some band ever recorded with a tin whistle.
I searched the forum archives and found some interesting examples like Tinsmith (although they play many different musics) and Buffalo in the Castle which I enjoyed a lot (I began music with Irish music on the tin whistle).

So my first question is: do you know other examples of tin whistle playing in American old time music? Especially with the kind of repertoire heard in Buffalo in the Castle album.

And my second question is: can you help me identify the origin of this recording of the tune Boatman in which we hear a tin whistle? I got this recording from a friend who don't remember how he got it... I wonder if it's from a CD, or recorded in a jam (if so, it might be impossible to find it's origin I'm afraid).

Thanks in advance. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:35 pm 
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Guillawme wrote:
So my first question is: do you know other examples of tin whistle playing in American old time music?

That can be tricky because the whistle is played in a variety of genres so try searching widely in old time, bluegrass, Appalachian, Civil War, patriotic, etc., music. Try looking thru these websites for a start:

http://www.oldsongs.org/
http://www.oldsongs.org/links.html

https://augustaheritagecenter.org/

http://www.swangathering.com/

Matts (from Finland, plays Old Time) middle back row playing home-made single-string re-cycled bucket for bass.
And there have been bones, spoons, washtubs, home-made instruments of many kinds. Music for everyone.
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Last edited by ytliek on Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:56 pm 
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Guillawme wrote:
And my second question is: can you help me identify the origin of this recording of the tune Boatman in which we hear a tin whistle?
I could be wrong but that tune sounds like one I played in my youth called "Sailing Down the River on the Ohio" or alternatively "Dance, Boatman, Dance". That might help you out with your searches. I don't know about the particular recording but I'll have a look around. That tempo is definitely cooking it. There are a few archives online with old time music recordings - mostly from festivals and folk society type meetings.

If it is that tune then it is one that I believe is credited to Dan Emmett. Emmett was a "minstrel" performer and songwriter from Ohio, imagine that. He is generally credited with having written "Dixie" among other songs. He collected tunes as well and some of his manuscripts have unearthed some interesting music such as "Snowden's Jig" popularized recently by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

The whistle is not unheard of in old time music or Bluegrass for that matter. But it is not particularly common either IME. Every now and then I run into a group at a festival that has a whistle player taking a secondary role to a fiddler or two. It always comes across as a striking voice in what is mostly a string band tradition.

Some of those old tunes may have more likely been played on a fife type of instrument. It is quite common for Civil War reenactment groups to play this style of music. The whistle is common in those circles, at least around here, although the fife may have been the high pitched instrument of choice around the campfires back in the day. Dan Emmett was also a fifer.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:43 pm 
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Back in the 60's I played with a group who played both ITM and American "old-time" and square dance music. I played 5-string banjo and whistle. Every now and then I would hear the old saw that old-time music is string band music. That is just untrue. At the National Fiddle Championship in Weiser, Idaho in 1964, I ran in to an old guy that had some old photos of musical groups from the late 1800's who were old time players. In addition to strings, there were fifes, harmonicas, accordeons and concertinas. He said any instrument and musician who could play the music was welcome. He played in an old timey band in the early 1900's that had a flute and whistle player who had just come from Ireland who picked up American music rather quickly.

I was just asked sit in and play low whistle with a group formed to play for a square dance. Some were not very open to the idea of a whistle player. The hot lead fiddler thought he would put me to shame by calling for the tune Col. Frasier, not realizing it is an ITM standard that I had been working on. He was blown away by the fact that I could play it at the blistering tempo he set and that I corrected him on some phasing he had mixed up. By the end of the gig I had garnered a lot of respect, as I knew and could play every tune they played.

One often finds the myth that American music is string band only, especially among bluegrass musicians. Most bluegrass musicians around here are city folk with no contact with the part of the country the music they play comes from. They seem to be the most snooty of all. The bluegrass musicians I have known who actually came out of the area where it comes from are far more open to non-string instruments playing the music. Most quite liked the low whistle as a different voice. Many said they had played with a number of non-string instuments over the years, including whistle.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:36 pm 
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Ted wrote:
Every now and then I would hear the old saw that old-time music is string band music. That is just untrue.
Ted, I hope I didn't come off as trying to perpetuate the attitude of old time music being strictly string band music. I suppose I sounded that way. I am usually the guy with the flute and whistles in his bag.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:50 pm 
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I play in a Glasgow based group called the Daddy Naggins.
We are on Facebook and Itunes etc.
The others are diehard bluegrass players.
I'm only along for the trip.
I do my best but I have no illusions that it works.
https://m.soundcloud.com/the-daddy-nagg ... n-brodie-1

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:11 pm 
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I didn't direct my remarks at you Feadoggie, but at the common attitude among some American players of old-time music, especially bluegrass musicians. I wanted to point out that just because Bill Monroe etc. didn't use non-string instruments in their recordings doesn't mean they never existed. It has certainly drifted that direction in the last 50 years or so. There are few exceptions these days but they do exist. The harmonica is one instrument that is fairly common, but whistles do show up here and there, usually causing a few raised eyebrows at festivals etc. If the player is competent and knows the repertoire, it can come off quite well. A poorer player may not be received so well.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:50 am 
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Virtually all strict old time players I know don't particular want to hear a whistle in their sessions. Like a lot of forum members here, I also play various stringed instruments, but as my tastes go, I generally prefer to hear old time music in the context of what attracts the OT purists to it--the instruments and styles that are unique to it. Same with ITM. But I'm sure if I thought about it long enough I could come up with an exception to the rule.

On the other hand, in contradancing, virtually anything musical goes as long as it doesn't crash the dance. There are OT and other traditional purist dance bands of various types for sure, but most of bands seem to consist of a mishmash of whatever instruments the band members happen to be able to play and as long as they make it work--for the dancers, at least--nobody particularly cares about purity of musical traditions.
Also, in more contemporary acoustic music I really enjoy hearing blends of instruments and from various traditions.

Edit:
It occurred to me that my post didn't answer the original question here:
I've never heard a whistle in any old/early recordings of OT music. I have heard a whistle and flute used in recordings made in the past couple decades or so by some regional/local bands that play an eclectic celtoid mix that included a few old time tunes, but the general musical effect was anything but OT.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:20 am 
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I'm enjoying the comments on this topic so far. I play old-time banjo and guitar and normally like to hear the music as traditionally played. That said, I'm also a whistle player and now play in a more eclectic band that includes accordion and mountain dulcimer as well as fiddle and guitar. I usually pull out a whistle when we play our Celtic pieces. However I also play whistle, including low D sometimes, on a few traditional tunes that would normally be thought of as string band music. A few of these are Elk River Blues, Hunting For The Buffalo, Waiting For The Federals, and Over The Waterfall. Also, one of our band members has written a tune called Road To Appomattox, with obvious American Civil War connotations. I added a whistle part that sounds a lot like a fife that would be appropriate for that era and it adds a lot. Some of the current string band repertoire comes from music that was played in the 1800s, so there is a substantial list of tunes that have a precedent for a fife sound in the mix, and would work well on whistle if played in the right setting.
Dick


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 9:03 am 
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Thank you all, very interesting points here :) (and sorry for the delay, I don't have much time to spend on the forum except during week-ends).

I already began to understand that some old time musicians are looking for a specific tone that doesn't require any wind instrument at all. But what you tell me about bands playing for dancers totally makes sense: for most dancers what really matters is rhythm and energy, which don't depend much on the instruments played. I often witness it with other repertoires, for example yesterday night we had in Paris "Hamon-Martin duo" with a guest bass clarinet player and it worked amazingly well for breton dances. (A little off-topic here in a thread about tin whistle in old time music, but those of you who like the flute should check out the flute playing of Erwan Hamon, e.g. here; please keep comments for a dedicated thread in the flute section).


Feadoggie wrote:
I could be wrong but that tune sounds like one I played in my youth called "Sailing Down the River on the Ohio" or alternatively "Dance, Boatman, Dance". That might help you out with your searches. I don't know about the particular recording but I'll have a look around. That tempo is definitely cooking it. There are a few archives online with old time music recordings - mostly from festivals and folk society type meetings.

If it is that tune then it is one that I believe is credited to Dan Emmett. Emmett was a "minstrel" performer and songwriter from Ohio, imagine that. He is generally credited with having written "Dixie" among other songs. He collected tunes as well and some of his manuscripts have unearthed some interesting music such as "Snowden's Jig" popularized recently by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Thank you very much for this information!
I didn't find more interesting things with a quick search with your alternative titles, mostly because Youtube is full of recordings of this tune (or another one with the word "boatman" in its title). I had the same problem at first, that's why I thought I would have more luck by asking on the forum (sometimes ears and memory of a few people are more helpful than a search engine...).
I don't know if you thought of a song on this tune (as you mention its author as a songwriter), interestingly the friend from whom I got the recording with a tin whistle also gave me another recording of the same tune with a song. Unfortunately this other version isn't identified either (empty tags in mp3 file, and the friend doesn't remember how he got it), and I was not able to find it online. Here it is, if this can ring a bell to someone on the forum.
By the way, I love this Snowden's Jig (just checked out its rendition by Carolina Chocolate Drops, sounds like a nice band!).


dunnp wrote:
I play in a Glasgow based group called the Daddy Naggins.
We are on Facebook and Itunes etc.
The others are diehard bluegrass players.
I'm only along for the trip.
I do my best but I have no illusions that it works.
https://m.soundcloud.com/the-daddy-nagg ... n-brodie-1

You should be more confident, because this sounds really good :thumbsup: (I especially like how you discreetly fit a piece of an Irish reel in the tune). The flute parts in the following track are nice as well.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:34 pm 
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Thanks. I'll be playing with the Daddys again tonight.
I'll be playing piccolo (maybe whistle) on things like Clinch Mountain Backstep, Cherokee Shuffle, Salt Creek.
I used to play many old time tunes as well. I sometimes trot them out.
Here is a video I made a good few years ago of that type of thing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxRlScuplfc

All the best,
Patrick Dunn

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:22 pm 
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I play whistle and flute with a number of OT jams, and certainly a lot of OT on the street. I see the thing this way: the tunes we play are often coming from the 19th century, and I have heard people say that the spirit of OT was that folks picked up the instruments they had and played them. Well, as far as I know there were plenty of flutes in 19th century America, they are highly mobile and OT tunes sound fine on them. So probably flutes were used in ensembles that played OT tunes when a number of these tunes were originally played. And I have read they were part of the tradition in New England. Well, when you have an instrument on which OT tunes were played in the 19th century, and they sound good on it, I don't see any principled reason to exclude it now. There are some parts of what's called OT (the 'high lonesome sound,' say) that are just for strings, but there's a lot more music included in OT than that. People sometimes object when I break out these instruments in a jam, less so after they hear me play. FWIW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1BR33JOQGE


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:17 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
I play whistle and flute with a number of OT jams...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1BR33JOQGE

Nice one.

Our Shamrogue group plays 'The Soldiers Joy', 'Over The Waterfall'. and 'Liberty' as a slip jig tune set with any and every instrument.
And even a little dance fellow that can keep up with the best of'em.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:46 am 
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For tunes like Soldier's Joy, Liberty and Over The Waterfall I'd probably play a whistle or maybe banjo.
dunnp wrote:
I'll be playing with the Daddys again tonight.
I'll be playing piccolo (maybe whistle) on things like Clinch Mountain Backstep, Cherokee Shuffle, Salt Creek.
But for those tunes I think I'd have to go this way.
Image

YMMV.

The Shamrogues look like a fun group.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:34 am 
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Feadoggie wrote:
The Shamrogues look like a fun group.

We do have fun. Music is predominantly Irish Traditional. And its an open group, nothing formal.
There's more than one group named The Shamrogues. We're out of the Gaelic-American Club, Fairfield, CT since the early 1990s. All volunteers, although some of our musicians play with other bands and multiple bands (paid).
This is us.
http://www.shamrockirishmusic.org/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shamrock ... 9832489097

Maybe you were referring to that Baltimore group. :D


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