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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:12 pm 
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I was talking to a good friend today who has moved to the Sunshine coast, so we only hang out once or twice a year. He told me that he was trying to learn the harmonica, mostly for an easy travel instrument. I also mentioned yo him that I was taking a kick at the tin whistle. Since we see each other so seldom I thought it would be cool if we separately learned a few similar tunes so that we could jam a bit when we saw each other. Do these instruments jive with each other or am I barking up the wrong tree?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:29 pm 
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Arf.

Just kidding. All you can do is try it and see how it works for you. I don't remember ever seeing and hearing harmonica and whistle duets, per se, so I don't have a personal opinion. Maybe it will sound good. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will be so offensive that it's worth doing for that very reason. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:34 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Arf.

Just kidding. All you can do is try it and see how it works for you. I don't remember ever seeing and hearing harmonica and whistle duets, per se, so I don't have a personal opinion. Maybe it will sound good. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will be so offensive that it's worth doing for that very reason. :wink:


Haha, perfect.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:56 pm 
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Just make sure you can play the tunes in the same key when you get together. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:03 pm 
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I knew I was missing something.

Ah ... wait a minute. If they're going for offensive, even just a half step off would do it. I once did a whistle duet at a practice session, D and C together, just for laughs. You should have seen our eyes bleed.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:33 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I knew I was missing something.

Ah ... wait a minute. If they're going for offensive, even just a half step off would do it. I once did a whistle duet at a practice session, D and C together, just for laughs. You should have seen our eyes bleed.


As long as your ears were ok...


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:46 pm 
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Playing "Dirty Old Town" got me thinking about this since it has an old timey western sound that would suit harmonica.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:57 am 
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The first time I can recall hearing a tin whistle was sometime in the late '60s in the Ship Inn in Melrose, where two old guys were playing whistle and harmonica in a corner of the bar, mainly pipe tunes, with the moothie vamping cords under the whistle melodies.
I didn't think much about it until I saw the Chieftains on their first tour of Scotland (1973?): I went out next day and bought a Generation C, which I still have. My recorder playing days were over. I started hanging around Sandy Bell's bar around then, and I'm pretty certain I heard Alex Green playing whistle with a moothie player there.
At my local session at the Gordon Arms, there are occasionally moothie players who join in with the jigs, reels, marches and strathspeys.
So it does work.

Go for it!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:56 am 
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Whistle and Harmonica can sound great together, low whistle or flute and harmonica even better - checkout the tune Hometime on Emer Mayock’s Playground cd for the latter. YouTube search Brendan Power or James Conway and you may find some trad tinwhistle/harp. James plays both, but not at the same time, lol. Actually, I bet he CAN play both at the same time, I’ve just never seen it. Dude is astounding.

Anyway, the thing to remember for you and your friend is that, generally speaking, it’s much harder to play many tunes (particularly ITM) at speed on the harmonica than on the whistle. So you might want to let him pick the tunes, or learn whatever he already knows or is currently learning, whatever the style. Of course, slow reels and jigs can sound wonderful, so no need for speed really. Obviously plenty of other types of music to learn as well, no reason most things shouldn’t sound good when played well on harp/whistle. Funk, Jazz, heavy metal :twisted:

And of course, as previously mentioned, you two will have to get on the same page with regards to key, which isn’t as straight forward as it may seem: You’ll need to know what keys the tunes are in on the whistlewhistle(s) you’re bringing to your get togethers (many whistle players have no idea what key the tunes they play are in) and he’ll need to know what position on the harp he’s learning each tune. That’s assuming he’s playing diatonic harps rather than chromatic, and that he owns all harmonicas to cover the various keys, and that he understands the concept of position playing on the harp, so that he knows what key he’s actually playing in when playing each tune..... the diatonic harmonica is a strangely tuned beast and one often plays it in one of several keys other than what it is labeled. And you’re probably going to want to avoid tunes in minor, again for his benefit.

Basically, just comes down to both of you having a good understanding of your instruments, how you play them in different keys, and getting on the same page so that you can learn tunes in keys that fall on instruments you both own, or will own by the time you meet up to play.

Good luck and have fun! Make some recordings when you get together and share the results if you feel like it.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:58 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Arf.

Just kidding. All you can do is try it and see how it works for you. I don't remember ever seeing and hearing harmonica and whistle duets, per se, so I don't have a personal opinion. Maybe it will sound good. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will be so offensive that it's worth doing for that very reason. :wink:


I think the Pogues do harmonica/whistle on the song Birmingham Six. Maybe thats why the BBC banned it from radio play haha.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:42 am 
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Oh one other thing, if you are playing soprano whistle and he is playing diatonic harps, you might try to convince him to get an appropriate key LOW harmonica or two, or possibly you buy a couple of less expensive lower pitched whistles. Soprano whistles and harps in the keys from about Bb on up are pretty high pitched, and both combined can be a bit much, depending on the harp key. For example if you’re planning t play tunes in D, and he’s going to be playing a D harp (1st Position), well that D harp is pretty high pitched, and paired with someone playing a D soprano whistle, I’d be reaching for earplugs. In this instance a Low D Harmonica would sound MUCH better with a D whistle.

OTH, if you choose tunes in G, harps from the Key of A on down are sufficiently low in pitch that G harp played in 1st position and D whistle played in should sound quite good, rather than the likely ear piercing example given above.

Now if your buddy learns to play in both 1st and 2nd position, then he could play G tunes as well as D tunes on that G harmonica. The G harmonica also plays in the key of A in 3rd position..... and I’m wasting my breath here if he bought a chromatic, so I’ll leave it at that. Just keep in mind that the higher pitched diatonic harmonicas may not sound that great with high pitched whistles, so having one instrument or the other, or both, a bit lower will sound best, and this ties in with the choice of which tunes you plan to learn, and in which keys.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:33 am 
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This snap was taken at the gala concert of the 2006 Feakle festival, an ad hoc instance of the Kitty Hayes band. Harmonica playerMick Kinsella , the late Kitty Hayes playing concertina, the whistleplayer and the guitarplayer, the late Maurice Coyle, who sadly died recently.

I think that worked nicely. Good memories of the night anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:23 am 
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Look at this can of worms!! I love it. Heaps of good info and probably a year away to get in synch (not the band, yeuch)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:00 pm 
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There is a fun (and somewhat strange) album out there called The Lark In The Clear Air featuring instruments you could fit in your pocket: harmonica, piccolo, and jew's harp. While there aren't whistle/harmonica duets, there is piccolo/harmonica, as well as harmonica/flute, so I'd say whistle/harmonica would be just fine.

Spotify link to the album: https://open.spotify.com/album/70fPrlHIvsmyyFFRmMPZXW

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym3OKOkQSII&list=PLTYuoeeYvBadrDpeQrXyTAoL06VmDRBV4


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:55 am 
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As a Harmonica (50 years plus) and Whistle player ( mostly low D's 7 years) These instruments work well together. I find that the use of a Chromatic has a better range and the advantage of key change (playing in different modes) than a straight single keyed instrument.

Get to know what you like to play and practice,


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