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 Post subject: octaves
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:48 pm 
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Hello mates i just started penny whistles and the illusive octaves are giving me fits. it seems there is a first octave air flow seems to come from back of throat?? Also 2nd octave seems to come from embouchure to some extent?? Appreciate any tips to regulate these over blows.
The octaves up to c# are not so bad but the middle d is a bugger.
Thanks for all your wisdom. :poke:


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:00 pm 
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No. Control of octaves comes entirely from air pressure. Blow softly, you get the bottom octave. Harder, and you'll jump up into the second octave. Blow really hard and you'll hit the third, which will hit you back.

As you gain experience in playing, your diaphragm's muscle memory will learn exactly how hard to push for every note, and you'll never have to think of it again. You get there by playing and thinking about the quality of the sound you're making. Not by thinking about how hard you're blowing. Let your unconscious sort that out.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:39 pm 
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And middle D, fingered as OXXXXX (only the top finger off) should take only a bit more air speed than C#. It should be hard not to blow it as middle D.


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:27 am 
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A small amount of tongueing can help start second octave notes.

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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:56 am 
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On high whistle but especially on low whistle and flute I start off people without tonguing.

When learning to get around on the gamut of the whistle or flute the problem happens of moving two or more fingers at the same time (say, with intervals of a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc) and beginners have the tendency of using the moment of silence created by tonguing to hide their sloppy note-changes. Fine if they're going to play staccato the rest of their lives, but a fundamental disservice if they ever intend to play legato.

Say, playing

D F# A d f# a f# d A F# D

on a single breath, legato, with no tonguing or other break between notes, and all the note-changes clean (without intervening notes).

With octaves too I think it harms a beginner's progress to have them tongue everything from the get-go.

They will attain better breath-control if they practice doing octaves without the crutch of tonguing, I think it's safe to say. Tonguing, later, can become a stylistic choice, to be used when it sounds right, rather than an engrained ever-present enabler.

So, I have people do the following, each line done slowly and on one breath, legato, with no tonguing or other breaks:

D d D d D d D (using no change in fingering)

E e E e E e E

and so on up the scale ending with

B b B b B b B.

C natural and C# are outliers somewhat, in the tradition high C natural and high C# are usually approached from high B.

More challenging, once you can do octaves from D to B, is the following:

D E D F# D G D A D B D C# D d D e D f# D g D a D b D

done legato, no tonguing or other breaks. Yes take breaths when you have to! But better to take them in the middle of the notes, so you don't skip practicing the note-changes.

Going from a nice solid Bottom D to a sweet high b and back, on a single breath without tonguing, is challenging but when mastered pays the dividend of you being able to go anywhere from anywhere on the flute or whistle without having to mask the note-change with tonguing (within the traditional D-b range).

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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:18 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
On high whistle but especially on low whistle and flute I start off people without tonguing.

When learning to get around on the gamut of the whistle or flute the problem happens of moving two or more fingers at the same time (say, with intervals of a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc) and beginners have the tendency of using the moment of silence created by tonguing to hide their sloppy note-changes. Fine if they're going to play staccato the rest of their lives, but a fundamental disservice if they ever intend to play legato.

Say, playing

D F# A d f# a f# d A F# D

on a single breath, legato, with no tonguing or other break between notes, and all the note-changes clean (without intervening notes).

With octaves too I think it harms a beginner's progress to have them tongue everything from the get-go.

They will attain better breath-control if they practice doing octaves without the crutch of tonguing, I think it's safe to say. Tonguing, later, can become a stylistic choice, to be used when it sounds right, rather than an engrained ever-present enabler.

So, I have people do the following, each line done slowly and on one breath, legato, with no tonguing or other breaks:

D d D d D d D (using no change in fingering)

E e E e E e E

and so on up the scale ending with

B b B b B b B.

C natural and C# are outliers somewhat, in the tradition high C natural and high C# are usually approached from high B.

More challenging, once you can do octaves from D to B, is the following:

D E D F# D G D A D B D C# D d D e D f# D g D a D b D

done legato, no tonguing or other breaks. Yes take breaths when you have to! But better to take them in the middle of the notes, so you don't skip practicing the note-changes.

Going from a nice solid Bottom D to a sweet high b and back, on a single breath without tonguing, is challenging but when mastered pays the dividend of you being able to go anywhere from anywhere on the flute or whistle without having to mask the note-change with tonguing (within the traditional D-b range).


At the risk of high jacking, this seems like a great exercise. I plan on integrating this into my daily regiment. Thanks Richard.


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:16 pm 
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I often see people saying blow harder to play the second octave, but what I like to tell people is to blow faster. I think it can help you develop good technique by thinking about it that way.


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:37 am 
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jpwinstruments wrote:
I often see people saying blow harder to play the second octave, but what I like to tell people is to blow faster. I think it can help you develop good technique by thinking about it that way.


When I saw this advice (in the big Grey Larsen book) and started doing it, the quality of my second octave notes on all my whistle improved immensely - without tweaking!

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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:54 am 
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Thats great news Brus! I have also seen some threads here about clogging in whistles. Try placing your tongue on the bottom of the mouthpiece then wrap your mouth around the beak as you would normally. This raises the tongue in the mouth and the air expelled from the lungs flows over the tongue surface before it gets into the instrument. This helps to catch moisture before it gets into the airway. I also believe that it helps to cool the temperature of the air from the lungs. For the majority of players, clogging results in moisture condensing on on the fipple floor (in the airway).


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:01 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Control of octaves comes entirely from air pressure. Blow softly, you get the bottom octave. Harder, and you'll jump up into the second octave. Blow really hard and you'll hit the third, which will hit you back.


If I understand this correctly (bearing in mind that I'm still new to the whistle, can't read music, and am probably also lacking in other fundamentals), a fingering notation with a + underneath denotes second octave? And what happens when trying to hit the third octave and you get hit back? Awful sound or some other undesired effect?


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:12 pm 
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Dan A. wrote:
s1m0n wrote:
Control of octaves comes entirely from air pressure. Blow softly, you get the bottom octave. Harder, and you'll jump up into the second octave. Blow really hard and you'll hit the third, which will hit you back.


If I understand this correctly (bearing in mind that I'm still new to the whistle, can't read music, and am probably also lacking in other fundamentals), a fingering notation with a + underneath denotes second octave? And what happens when trying to hit the third octave and you get hit back? Awful sound or some other undesired effect?


I was being flippant. The third octave can be fairly piercing. It's ok for a passing high note, but I wouldn't want to play an entire tune up there. I don't know what fingering notation you're using, or what it means by the + sign.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:34 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
I don't know what fingering notation you're using, or what it means by the + sign.


I am using the book that came with my Walton's Irish D Whistle. (Likely not the best resource, but it's the only printed one I have at the moment.) In "The Basics of Whistle Playing," the text states that "a + sign under the diagrams indicates that you must blow harder to achieve the higher notes."


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:48 am 
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In that case, yes, it likely does mean second octave.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:24 pm 
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I perused the book a little more in-depth and found a diagram of the fingering notations paired up with the notes they represent. The two notes that are giving me fits right now are identified as high D (all but the hole nearest the fipple covered) and more especially high E (all but the hole farthest from the fipple covered). If I understand it correctly, those are both second octave?


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 Post subject: Re: octaves
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:35 pm 
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Yes. They're the two lowest notes of the second octave.

Sometimes beginners 'find' the second octave before they find the first. This can happen if you blew too forcefully at the beginning. Try holding down the first two fingers (xxo ooo) and blowing so gently no note sounds. Gradually increase pressure until you hear a note. Is the same note you usually get with this fingering?

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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