It is currently Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:36 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:56 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 182
Rank beginner here. I'm a semi pro guitar and bass player but new to whistle. Played Clarinet back in the middle school band, 100 years or so ago.

How much do you tongue the notes? I find that trying to play a jig, if I tongue the notes to get a more staccato sound I get squeeks and jumps into the second octave, and I can't seem to get rid of them no matter what I try. On the regular whistle I can tongue the notes much more easily. Is that my poor technique, or is it characteristic of the low whistle?

Also I'm picking up on the importance of fingering the thing smartly and cleanly, really "bouncing" the fingers on the holes. That helps to get the jig to get jiggy. I've read that irish music begins in legato playing, on the pipes with no tonguing, and that the legato foundation should always be present. I can kind of hear that: should I strive to get the jig feeling without tonguing?

Probably there is no hard and fast rule, but as a novice I can't tell what's my bad technique, what's possible, or what might be a problem with my whistle.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:47 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 2759
Location: Kinlochleven
To me, aiming for zero tonguing, 'true legato style' etc. is usually a misguided goal, but good advice available here:

http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/tonguing.html
http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/jigsI.html

If it's not working on a decent low whistle, afraid it's still you and not just a low whistle characteristic.

_________________
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 182
Peter Duggan wrote:
To me, aiming for zero tonguing, 'true legato style' etc. is usually a misguided goal, but good advice available here:

http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/tonguing.html
http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/jigsI.html

If it's not working on a decent low whistle, afraid it's still you and not just a low whistle characteristic.


Thanks, that's a great site!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:34 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:25 am
Posts: 3964
Location: WV to the OC
PB+J wrote:
How much do you tongue the notes?


It's a complex question.

First we should realise that the Low Whistle is a recent invention meaning that there's no Old-School traditional way to play it.

The Low Whistle sits somewhat in an Uncanny Valley between high D whistles and traditional wooden "Irish flutes" and it seems natural that people coming to Low Whistles from those instruments will apply (consciously or no) some of the stylistic traits from those instruments to Low Whistles.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that there are and have always been a wide range of regional and personal styles, and sticking to what one could call "mainstream" Irish traditional playing styles, one notices a dichotomy in the use of tonguing between high whistle players and flute players.

I started off on flute, and most of the old-school players I listened to and learned my music and style from didn't tongue at all, or at least didn't tongue in the sense of tonguing to articulate individual notes, to play in a detached style. The style was more flowing, legato. Yes the first note of a long legato phrase might (or might not) be attacked with the tongue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTo5Ae7Vz3c

(Now we must be careful there, because I've heard many Irish players use the word "tonguing" differently than its meaning in ordinary music, where it means seperating notes by use of the tongue. Many's the time I've heard Irish players use "tonguing" to refer to breath-pushes done with the diaphragm, but for clarity's sake I myself only use "tonguing" literally, and call the breath-pushes done with the diaphragm "breath pushes".)

Back then all the traditional high whistle players I listened to (there were no Low Whistles at that time) played in a highly-tongued style typified by the playing of Mary Bergin. Though I should point out that people new to ITM often misunderstand this use of tonguing. Still the underlying style is flowing and legato, with tonguing used to articulate certain notes and groups of notes.

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

So simply put it was tonguing for whistlers, and legato flowing music, or powerful breath-push-driven music, for fluters.

Then Low Whistles appeared, and how to approach playing them? Use a highly-tonged style borrowed from high whistles? Or a flowing legato or breath-push style borrowed from the flute?

As I've spent more and more time on Low Whistles, indeed playing them as my primary instrument now, I find myself using a hybrid style, more tongued that I would do on flute, but more legato than I would do on high whistle.

_________________
Richard Cook
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:21 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 182
Thank you very much-that seems right. I understand the low whistle is relatively new. I'm drawn to it because I like the register more--I'm a bass player at heart--and because the flute really never worked for me. I can pick up a sax and play a scale, but the flute has always felt awkward and uncomfortable and resisted my efforts to make even a poor note. So I'll admit the whistle seems easier. At 58 I'm aware that time is growing short.

It makes sense to think of developing a "voice" on the low whistle, rather than trying to make the low whistle be something else.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:03 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 10:18 pm
Posts: 166
From Richard:
Quote:
Still the underlying style is flowing and legato, with tonguing used to articulate certain notes and groups of notes.


From Peter:
Quote:
To me, aiming for zero tonguing, 'true legato style' etc. is usually a misguided goal, but good advice available here:


As Peter suggests, the Siamsa or "Brother Steve" site is great. It is probably the most concise, yet complete guide you can find.

My position on tonguing matches what Richard said. And, I think I can get Peter to mostly agree if he acknowledges that no-tonguing is a useful if not critical learning step, not necessarily the goal.

Dropping all tonguing and learning to play legato teaches you to play/place your fingers precisely and to learn breath control. It also forces you to start using taps and cuts for articulation, if only to separate adjacent same-notes. And finally it teaches you the legato, flowing sensibility. If you come from recorder, it forces you out of your baroque techniques and sensibility.

Adding the tonguing back in after learning the legato, takes you to Richard's point.

PB+J actually noticed an important aspect of this when he commented:
Quote:
Also I'm picking up on the importance of fingering the thing smartly and cleanly, really "bouncing" the fingers on the holes


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:52 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 2759
Location: Kinlochleven
tstermitz wrote:
And, I think I can get Peter to mostly agree if he acknowledges that no-tonguing is a useful if not critical learning step, not necessarily the goal.

I'm not sure that you can!

Quote:
Dropping all tonguing and learning to play legato teaches you to play/place your fingers precisely and to learn breath control. It also forces you to start using taps and cuts for articulation, if only to separate adjacent same-notes.

And how many beginners have you heard doing properly tidy taps and cuts? Most/many I've heard posting clips here, YouTube etc. have them more like soggy main notes.

Quote:
And finally it teaches you the legato, flowing sensibility.

And yet I'd argue that the whistle players I most admire and would most like to sound like typically play in a more detached style than I do. They instinctively know when to tongue or slur to create and enhance the characteristic rhythms like the Brother Steve STT jig thing, whereas too much misguided slurring can leave you afraid to tongue for fear of doing it in the 'wrong' place (compare a more 'classical' TSS pattern). Targeting this seamless legato (i.e. continuous slurring) all the time can leave you taking refuge in it and using it as justification for indecision.

Slurred practice is useful and tongued practice is useful. How to avoid overloading beginners without limiting them clearly requires thought, but interesting that Mary Bergin's tutor introduces tonguing in Lesson 3 and cuts in Lesson 4 (she tongues and slurs without defining either on the Lesson 1 and 2 recordings), noting there that cuts 'are not always required or even appropriate every time two successive notes of the same pitch appear in a tune.' I'd want to get tonguing in and being used appropriately from the start too.

_________________
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:32 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:25 am
Posts: 3964
Location: WV to the OC
For sure beginners can use tonguing as a crutch, and as a way of hiding sloppy fingering.

When I'm teaching a newbie whistle it's no tonguing allowed when we're learning scales and arpeggios and octaves leaps and such.

For two reasons 1) I want to hear if they're fingering note-changes cleanly 2) I want them to develop good breath-control and not rely on tonguing to get from one note to the next.

Finally getting a habitual-tongue-user to play fully legato has unmasked all sorts of ingrained technique problems.

For many years I went around to festivals teaching Irish flute workshops and it was sometimes extremely difficult to get people to not tongue. I've even had to have people hold their tongue against the roof of their mouth while playing to at last experience what true legato tongue-less playing feels and sounds like.

_________________
Richard Cook
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:44 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:25 am
Posts: 3964
Location: WV to the OC
Peter Duggan wrote:

interesting that Mary Bergin's tutor introduces tonguing in Lesson 3 and cuts in Lesson 4 (she tongues and slurs without defining either on the Lesson 1 and 2 recordings)


Oh dear!

It's the bane of so much of the teaching of Irish flute, whistle, and pipes: teachers saying they are doing one thing, but actually doing another. To introduce tonguing in Lesson 3 but already be doing it in Lessons 1 and 2 without identifying it is probably going to confuse people.

The NPU uilleann videos are fraught with this.

I had uilleann newbies come to me utterly confused due to the NPU teacher's verbal description, and the written music, saying one thing but the teacher actually playing a rather different thing. I had to transcribe some of the NPU video tunes so that newbies could see written music that matched the playing.

I've sat in Irish music workshops where the teacher was explaining a technique one way but playing it another.

I have a number of Irish flute books, whistle books, and uilleann pipe books which incorrectly notate the music, and in some cases include a CD with music played completely differently than the supposed transcriptions included.

_________________
Richard Cook
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:59 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 2759
Location: Kinlochleven
pancelticpiper wrote:
Oh dear!

It's the bane of so much of the teaching of Irish flute, whistle, and pipes: teachers saying they are doing one thing, but actually doing another. To introduce tonguing in Lesson 3 but already be doing it in Lessons 1 and 2 without identifying it is probably going to confuse people.

We're never going to totally agree here, are we?

You say folk can use tonguing as a crutch, I say they can use slurring as one. The logical solution appears to be understanding the function of both as soon as reasonably possible, and in that respect I don't think Mary Bergin does a bad job. While we're going to hear things the raw beginner doesn't, they'll hopefully still realise that sometimes she's blowing uninterrupted as she moves her fingers and sometimes she's not. And, in the latter case, they don't strictly need to know how she's rearticulating those notes till she tells them. If they can't spot the slurring then, yes, they're not going to sound like her (and probably need a teacher's help) till she starts to drop hints after the first two tunes of Lesson 2, but at least she's starting to explain it properly by Lesson 3...

Now what's wrong with telling folk right from the start they can start notes from scratch (which you have to do somehow — whether by tonguing or just blowing — to have a sound at all) or by simply moving the fingers, and you need them to practise and be able to do both?

_________________
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:22 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 10:18 pm
Posts: 166
I'm going to guess that Richard's students who couldn't NOT tongue came from classical flute or recorder. I played recorder before whistle, and was used to tonguing with slurring as articulation (i.e. the reverse from whistle sensibilities). One of my most important learning experiences was to drop all tonguing. Yep! It showed up all those places where my fingering wasn't clean. It also broke me of habitually tonguing, and taught me (forced me) to articulate well the taps and cuts.

I also can testify that listening to Mary Bergin woke me to re-introducing tonguing, but this time as an optional articulation, a choice. And finally, I learned to be capable of both never tonguing and frequent tonguing.

Richard explained how tonguing can be a crutch to hide poor technique, specifically sloppy finger placement. And I recognize that problem from my beginning years.

Peter, What do you mean when you say that playing all-legato can be a crutch? What is the problem caused by slurring all notes?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:26 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 2759
Location: Kinlochleven
tstermitz wrote:
Peter, What do you mean when you say that playing all-legato can be a crutch? What is the problem caused by slurring all notes?

See my earlier reply, where I said:

Peter Duggan wrote:
They instinctively know when to tongue or slur to create and enhance the characteristic rhythms like the Brother Steve STT jig thing, whereas too much misguided slurring can leave you afraid to tongue for fear of doing it in the 'wrong' place (compare a more 'classical' TSS pattern). Targeting this seamless legato (i.e. continuous slurring) all the time can leave you taking refuge in it and using it as justification for indecision.

_________________
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:48 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Posts: 2759
Location: Kinlochleven
tstermitz wrote:
I'm going to guess that Richard's students who couldn't NOT tongue came from classical flute or recorder. I played recorder before whistle, and was used to tonguing with slurring as articulation (i.e. the reverse from whistle sensibilities). One of my most important learning experiences was to drop all tonguing. Yep! It showed up all those places where my fingering wasn't clean.

Quote:
Richard explained how tonguing can be a crutch to hide poor technique, specifically sloppy finger placement. And I recognize that problem from my beginning years.

There's a slight implication here that players from predominantly-tongued traditions (e.g. baroque, classical) are likely to have less accurate fingerwork. But there's really no excuse for well-trained recorder or flute players (or those of other woodwinds) to be any less precise than well-trained trad players. The difference should if anything be between skilled (tight) and not-so-skilled (sloppy) in any field, with the challenge facing converted classical players being more about the balance of tonguing and slurring and when to tongue (or not) than whether they've got tight fingerwork. And habitually slurring everything neither sounds great nor teaches you when to tongue. (Caveat: some tunes suit wall-to-wall slurring and some don't.)

_________________
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Why I teach... and where
Master of nine?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 182
As a complete novice I feel like I obviously have a lot to learn and a little to contribute. But I'm a reasonably accomplished musician in jazz and blues derived forms of music, and I understand the phrasing and articulation of that tradition really well. That's obviously not the right starting point for ITM, although ITM had string influences on all American popular genres.

To me, thinking about starting from an instrument that isn't tounged is very useful, because it clears away some of the learned behaviors and opens a window into the roots of a different tradition. I don't know where I want to go with the whistle--I don't know if I want to be mr authentic playing at a session of if I want to play jazz flute on the whistle--I've got Roland Kir's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" down, it's easy. A lot of the jigs are much much harder, and I realize that it's not necessarily moving the fingers, it's getting the phrasing down. I understand Roland Kirk's phrasing


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
[ Time : 0.388s | 13 Queries | GZIP : On ]
(dh)