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 Post subject: Hole sizes on whistles
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:32 pm 
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I was just wondering about the different hole sizes on a whistle, how some are larger than others. Is this to do with the tuning/intonation?

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 2:04 pm 
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Yes. There are basically two ways of sharpening a note: moving the hole up the tube (towards the mouthpiece) and making it bigger. Likewise moving it down and/or making it smaller to flatten. But it's not quite as simple as treating holes in isolation because 1. all open holes have some effect on a note's tuning (the nearer to the closed holes, the bigger the effect) and 2. there are some compromises to be reached with holes serving dual or multiple functions (e.g. T1 to give you C# with all fingers off yet simultaneously control the intonation of a forked C nat like OXXOOO, OXXXOX etc.). Making holes too big or small can also have implications for tone quality and/or playability, so there are pretty well tried and tested configurations that work with some small room for adjustment.

The double holes on your recorders make use of the same principles... combined area to vent the main note and one hole closed for the semitone below. Most original baroque recorders had single holes there so had to be half-holed like whistles to get these semitones.

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 3:23 pm 
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Interesting. And it probably explains why my Schylling whistle was so bad-the holes were all pretty much the same size and spacing! What do you mean by T1? And I realised after I had played with the Feadóg that there was no C because the Dmajor scale runs D E F# G A B C#

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 3:28 pm 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
What do you mean by T1?

Top hand 1. Hole nearest the mouthpiece. I'd say L (left) 1, but it would be R (right) for lefties! So (in order) T1, 2 and 3 for top (normally left) hand index, middle and ring*, and B1, 2 and 3 for bottom (normally right) hand index, middle and ring.

*Or pinkie if you're me!

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 4:25 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
AuLoS303 wrote:
What do you mean by T1?

Top hand 1. Hole nearest the mouthpiece. I'd say L (left) 1, but it would be R (right) for lefties! So (in order) T1, 2 and 3 for top (normally left) hand index, middle and ring*, and B1, 2 and 3 for bottom (normally right) hand index, middle and ring.

*Or pinkie if you're me!

Ah I'm still thinking in recorder mode where I would say the B hole. Not very scientific I know...

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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:26 pm 
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That's not unscientific, but not always safe because folk understand it differently...

Properly speaking, the B hole is the hole that vents the B note, which is T2. But some folk (including you?) use it to mean the C# hole (or T1) because that's the hole that's covered by the finger that makes the B note.

It's also slightly problematic for recorders, where you've got more forked fingerings as standard and one 'straight line' fingering (X|XXX|XOOO) that's not a regular fingering for anything on a standard English-fingered recorder. So you could still call the first open hole there (in descant/soprano parlance) the F hole when it produces F with X|XXX|XOXX, but it's surely more sensible to call the thumb hole the thumb hole than the high (or middle) D hole when it also vents C# and Eb as well as helps all higher notes to speak through pinching. And how would you describe the double holes? Logically you might have the first pair as the E and Eb holes and the second as the D and C# holes, but you could argue just as strongly for the combined first pair as the E hole (singular) and second as the D hole (likewise) when that's what you've got on single-holed recorders!

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 1:17 am 
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I think your convention of T1,T2 etc makes sense as it can be carried over to other instruments (pipes,fife,flute?)
I'm not sure what conventions are used for other instruments but for clarinet and sax I've seen the use of left hand/right hand.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 1:49 am 
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Left and right makes sense for instruments built one way round. Which includes most recorders, where the double holes are asymmetric (the ones you cover to get descant Eb and C# are larger than the ones that stay open). I think of whistle in terms of L and R too, so constantly have to remind myself to do T and B when posting here.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 2:08 am 
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T 123, B123 for whistle
T123,B1234 for recorder, plus TH for thumb hole. Interesting. I wonder if an octave hole at the back has been tried on tin whistle.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 4:48 am 
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On whistles, a thumbhole is more often used to get a more in tune C-nat. Unlike recorders, a register hole isn't as necessary to get an accessible, in-tune second register, and there's less expectation of a third register.


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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 11:39 am 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
T 123, B123 for whistle
T123,B1234 for recorder, plus TH for thumb hole. Interesting. I wonder if an octave hole at the back has been tried on tin whistle.


Notice that the fingerings for the D whistle and the C recorder are the same except for the lowest (double) hole? That's because the fundamental scale of the C recorder is really a D scale. The extra section is just added on to give the extra notes C and C#. Some makers including myself make an extra long D whistle with one extra hole to provide a low C note, C# if you half hole. In trad music though, those notes are not used very often at all.

I was a recorder player before I came to play and make whistles, so I tried a thumb hole to make octaves easier. It was no help at all. I've made a couple of custom order whistles with an extra hole on the back to allow an F natural without half holing, but I personally don't think it's worth it. Learning to half hole is extremely useful for many notes.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 11:46 am 
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brewerpaul wrote:
AuLoS303 wrote:
T 123, B123 for whistle
T123,B1234 for recorder, plus TH for thumb hole. Interesting. I wonder if an octave hole at the back has been tried on tin whistle.


Notice that the fingerings for the D whistle and the C recorder are the same except for the lowest (double) hole? That's because the fundamental scale of the C recorder is really a D scale. The extra section is just added on to give the extra notes C and C#. Some makers including myself make an extra long D whistle with one extra hole to provide a low C note, C# if you half hole. In trad music though, those notes are not used very often at all.

I was a recorder player before I came to play and make whistles, so I tried a thumb hole to make octaves easier. It was no help at all. I've made a couple of custom order whistles with an extra hole on the back to allow an F natural without half holing, but I personally don't think it's worth it. Learning to half hole is extremely useful for many notes.


Thanks. I found a site that showed me how to get a C natural by half holing T1, and it seemed to work-I need to check with a tuner.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 8:11 pm 
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The biggest factor that affects hole size is the size of the bore in relation to length. A narrow bore whistle in any given key will have smaller holes than a wide bore model of the same key. The second factor for hole size is windway height. Easier blowing whistles that have taller more open windways will need larger holes than a whistle with a narrow windway that has lots of back pressure. Then, I would say, the third issue is if the maker is using precise measurements. Bad measurements can result in bigger holes, because being even 1/10th of a cm off can cause you to need to up the size of the hole to compensate.


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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 7:36 am 
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Interesting stuff guys!

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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 2:58 pm 
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It's not just whistle, but fairly standard for folk woodwinds and even non-folk woodwinds.

I was a Baroque flute Major for a time at University and my teacher used the same ways of reckoning the fingers and holes for his recorders, crumhorns, etc as traditional/folk players do.

So for fingering charts x is a close hole and o is an open hole

xxx xxx (bottom D)
xxx xxo (E)
xxx xoo (F#)

And holes are named by what note emits from them.

Common for the holes to be called 1 2 3 4 5 6.

So G emits from Hole 4, and H4 is called the G hole.

The fingers, on the other hand (!), are usually U (upper) and L (lower) in many sorts of instruments. Interesting for me to see T (top) and B (bottom) are more common in ITM. I think U and L are more logical because there's no U or L in the scale. Using T and B you have B the note and B the hand and confusion might result.

Anyhow whistle makers are caught between ideal voicing (huge evenly spaced holes) and the needs of the diatonic scale (with steps and half-steps) and the anatomy of the human hands.

Add to that, as Theo Boehm points out, Hole 1's three different functions (the note-hole for C# and C natural and the vent-hole for Middle D).

So it's why most whistles have more or less the same finger spacing and hole sizing- no maker is freed from acoustics and anatomy.

Exhibit A: Low D whistles from various makers, with a Low C body at bottom.

Image

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