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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:56 pm 
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I posted this question in the thread on A whistles, but it's probably better in its own thread.

I've seen A whistles made by "Shearwater" that have a 7th hole, meant to be covered by the right hand pinky to play G natural. This intrigues me, because I've been looking at getting an A whistle and this would be perfect for playing Scottish piping tunes.

The Shearwater brand hasn't gotten the best press on this site, though, with only a couple of threads from a while ago discussing them. Does anyone have experience with Shearwater whistles, or with another maker that does a similar 7 holed A whistle?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:07 pm 
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Sandy Jasper used to post here, long ago. I had a recollection she made a whistle with bagpipe fingering. Looking into it now they're not in A but can be seen here anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:01 pm 
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https://carbony.com/products/great-high ... cessories/

Carbony do one with a thumb hole as well.
A lot of makers might make you one if you ask.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:22 pm 
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bigsciota wrote:
I've seen A whistles made by "Shearwater" that have a 7th hole, meant to be covered by the right hand pinky to play G natural. This intrigues me, because I've been looking at getting an A whistle and this would be perfect for playing Scottish piping tunes.

Is it the extra note (on an otherwise standard A whistle) you want, a pipes-fingered whistle (which others are suggesting) or simply a whistle that's good for pipe tunes?

If the first, then try it and see? Shearwater's not the only make to offer this extra note on a whistle, though whether it's at all common on an A I don't know. If pipes fingering, you could add Hans Bracker to the list of possibilities if he's currently making whistles. But, if you simply want to play the tunes on whistle, a standard (high or low) D whistle playing in its mid-range is what I'd choose for the job.

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The Shearwater brand hasn't gotten the best press on this site, though, with only a couple of threads from a while ago discussing them. Does anyone have experience with Shearwater whistles, or with another maker that does a similar 7 holed A whistle?

I know John Bushby (who makes them), and he's a good musician and craftsman. Haven't tried his whistles, but can't see him being happy with a poor product.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
...But, if you simply want to play the tunes on whistle, a standard (high or low) D whistle playing in its mid-range is what I'd choose for the job...
It's OK, I do it on flute, but I find there is something unsatisfying about playing across the octave break on tunes taylored for a one octave wind instrument. Not just GHB tunes but bagpipe tunes from all over europe. Playing on my own I use a 'D+ whistle'. Is it a long stretch to that seventh hole on an A whistle ?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:13 pm 
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david_h wrote:
It's OK, I do it on flute, but I find there is something unsatisfying about playing across the octave break on tunes taylored for a one octave wind instrument.

Paradoxically (perhaps), I just find they sit/feel better that way than they would in all low register. I get your point, but whistles and flutes respond differently to pipes.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:52 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
bigsciota wrote:
I've seen A whistles made by "Shearwater" that have a 7th hole, meant to be covered by the right hand pinky to play G natural. This intrigues me, because I've been looking at getting an A whistle and this would be perfect for playing Scottish piping tunes.

Is it the extra note (on an otherwise standard A whistle) you want, a pipes-fingered whistle (which others are suggesting) or simply a whistle that's good for pipe tunes?


Yes, I should have been more clear. I'm looking for an A whistle with the extra hole, not something that emulates the fingerings of a GHB chanter. The Scottish piping tune angle is more of an added bonus; I'm looking to get an A whistle anyway for accompanying singing and playing certain tunes in D and Em that go below the range of the normal flute and whistle. I actually got the idea because I had a flute with a low B key that came in surprisingly handy, and while I sold it on recently, and I do miss the functionality from time to time. Since I have some friends who like to throw in Scottish piping tunes from time to time, the low G seemed like a neat addition. Plus, it means a full G major scale is possible using "C" fingering, which helps the choice between an A and G whistle. It does seem, however, that for the majority of these whistles, the primary intended purpose and reason for the low Gnat hole is for piping tunes, which is why I included it in the title.

Thanks for the tips, $75 or so after shipping is a bit much to spend on a lark, but the curiosity might be too tempting to overcome!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:05 am 
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I agree with Peter there.

I've played Highland pipes and flutes and whistles for ages and what I wouldn't want for GHB tunes is to play them all down in the low octave.

Going "over the break" is your friend, not your enemy.

But I do not think that a D whistle is the ideal thing for playing GHB tunes.

Why? Because you have all those C#'s which in Highland piping are so very often ornamented in ways analogous to Irish "rolls".

Yes you can roll C#, and I can play grips/leumluaths on C# just fine, but speaking for myself I've never been as comfortable on whistles and flutes playing tunes that have C#'s all over the place in important and highly ornamented passages. Give me C naturals any day of the week! For me much easier to ornament and manoeuver around with.

So if I were to be in the situation of having to play GHB tunes with a Highland piper on a regular basis (regardless of whether the piper was playing GHB or Border Pipes or Smallpipes) I would play them on an E whistle rather than a D one.

For me playing in the key of A on an E whistle is far more comfortable and facile.

But of course you have the sharp leading tone, which I would fix, either by doing a bash-up on an existing E whistle (I have done) or ideally acquiring a bespoke whistle.

In other words the whistle would have a minor 3rd in its scale, giving you the G natural you need in both octaves.

E F# Gnat A B C# Dnat e f# gnat a b c#

Really superb for playing GHB tunes.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:20 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
I've played Highland pipes and flutes and whistles for ages and what I wouldn't want for GHB tunes is to play them all down in the low octave.

Going "over the break" is your friend, not your enemy.
Is this because you prefer the sound of the whistle in the middle of its range for pipe tunes, or are there other reasons you favour it?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:43 pm 
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To me a mixture of sound, fingering, feel, everything... it's just where the whistle's comfortable and the tunes sit right. There's no more 'break' there playing pipe tunes than there is playing fiddle, 'whistle' or any other tunes and, with the right whistle, arguably no break at all. So take the two pipe tunes I've currently got up on YouTube:

The Atholl Highlanders
Lang Nichts an Cauld Wind (4:00 mins into my Holifield Low D review)

And tell me either would sound or feel better between limits equating to XXXXXX D and OXXXXX D (which is still a second harmonic) with an added XXXXXXX low C? I think not...

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:05 am 
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Again, I should have worded the posting better, but while the whistle I was looking at was made for playing piping tunes (hence the low Gnat), I am not looking for this whistle primarily to play piping tunes. It would be for accompanying singing and playing tunes that go below D, with the possible added benefit of playing Scottish piping tunes. The low G would make tunes in G major and A minor easier to play as well, which I liked the idea of.

After some research, this seems to be the only one of its kind with the low Gnat but regular whistle fingerings. Carbony and others make GHB-fingered whistles, but I'm not sure how well that'd translate to what I'm trying to do. I might pull the trigger after Christmas, we'll see what the new year brings...

Interesting thoughts on Scottish piping tunes. I've always found tunes that prominently feature C# to be a pain, partly because of ornamentation issues and partly because I find C#s never quite sound right on a whistle. Would be interested in trying that E whistle hack, and given that I'm considering an E whistle as well, I may have the opportunity to do so soon.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:54 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
Again, I should have worded the posting better, but while the whistle I was looking at was made for playing piping tunes (hence the low Gnat), I am not looking for this whistle primarily to play piping tunes. It would be for accompanying singing and playing tunes that go below D, with the possible added benefit of playing Scottish piping tunes.

I think you were clear enough from the outset. But of course we're now discussing things which, while perhaps appearing tangential to your original query, both emerged logically from it and remain consistent with the development of a typical Internet forum topic (aka 'thread drift').

:)

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:05 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
....typical Internet forum topic (aka 'thread drift').:)

I thought, in the context of these forums, they were just considered "variations."

Best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:42 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
while the whistle I was looking at was made for playing piping tunes (hence the low Gnat), I am not looking for this whistle primarily to play piping tunes. It would be for accompanying singing and playing tunes that go below D, with the possible added benefit of playing Scottish piping tunes. The low G would make tunes in G major and A minor easier to play as well, which I liked the idea of.


You can't serve two masters, and you're talking about two different tasks, for which I would use two different whistles.

Playing GHB tunes on whistle, if you're to play them as closely as possible to the way they're played on the pipes, is a specialised task and I would have a dedicated whistle for it. So, piping jigs and reels often have GDE triplets on C#, B, A, and G and an E whistle with G natural rolls on those notes fall beautifully under the fingers. In other words the things that fall under the fingers of pipers will also fall under the fingers of whistlers (long rolls substituting for GDE triplets). In these typical Highland pipe tunes the note D is different, and tends to be a longer note, well-suited to the whistleplayer's Cnat fingering you'd be using.

For songs that go below D, or indeed songs that dwell on the lower notes of a D whistle, I wouldn't want to play them on a D whistle anyhow. In my opinion there's a sweet spot in the range of whistles that goes more or less from G to g, and for me G is the most facile key. It's why I end up playing songs (not traditional Irish dance music, but vocal pieces) in the key of D on an A whistle oftentimes.

You mention the key of G Major which is in the sweet spot of D whistles. But it varies according to the range of the particular song, and for sure there are some songs in G Major I play on a G whistle due to range.

About A minor, do you mean with an F natural? Or dorian with an F sharp?

While whistles with extended tubing for extra low notes seems like a cool idea, it's not necessary or even desirable, in my opinion, for either of the two tasks you mention.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:12 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
bigsciota wrote:
while the whistle I was looking at was made for playing piping tunes (hence the low Gnat), I am not looking for this whistle primarily to play piping tunes. It would be for accompanying singing and playing tunes that go below D, with the possible added benefit of playing Scottish piping tunes. The low G would make tunes in G major and A minor easier to play as well, which I liked the idea of.


You can't serve two masters, and you're talking about two different tasks, for which I would use two different whistles.


Fair enough. I guess if it was a good idea, more people would do it, and the fact that few whistlemakers (and none of the "big names") offer such a thing is probably testament in and of itself. I don't tend to carry large numbers of whistles to sessions; generally I like to keep it to my flute, a D whistle, and an Eb in case the session is in Eb. I know it'd probably be good to have whistles for each and every application, but I figured this might be an area to compromise and save space.

Then again, I'm used to carrying a banjo, guitar, and tenor guitar into gigs frequently, so a flute plus a few more whistles is no great burden!

I'm looking to get an E whistle for some tunes in E that just can't be done properly on a keyless flute, so I'll fool around with some tape and try out your modified E whistle for piping tunes trick.


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