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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:03 am 
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Tony Dixon makes an ABS plastic high D piccolo, quite cheap, it was the first of the flute family that I was able to get to grips with, same fingering as a whistle, it might work for you too. :)

Regarding pocketable instruments, harmonicas are good for that, one of the reasons I started with them. ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:09 am 
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Just out of curiosity: which Ten Penny Bit are you learning, there are several tunes flying under that name and several easily avoid the high B.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:14 am 
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JTU wrote:
I find that if I “slide” into the high B from the high A that seems to reduce the shrillness. Does anyone have any thoughts on that or am I just hearing what I want to hear.

It can only change the attack and not the sustained note unless you're underblowing, so I'd say hearing what you want to hear. If you compare a cleanly-attacked B to correctly-pitched ones slid or slurred from A, the body of the note will be the same.

There are some high notes on some whistles that may never come clean from a tongued attack and only respond to slurring, but a standard B on a 'normal' whistle is not one of them.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:11 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Just out of curiosity: which Ten Penny Bit are you learning, there are several tunes flying under that name and several easily avoid the high B.


The version at the "Online Academy of Irish Music." I decided to pick one, and learn it cold, and then see about others. Learning to deal with the harsh hi end seems like a good idea, except to my wife. :D

I'm personally torn on this. I come from the world of jazz where taking extensive liberties with the melody is very much expected. And I'm not in a community of people making traditional irish music. The few sessions I've attended have not offered a pathway in for beginners. I'm pretty much on my own, with the internet. So I could just play it however I like.

As mentioned, going to the local Comhaltas week of workshops and performances on July 14th. My guess is everybody there will be sick of the "tenpenny bit" and disdain playing it :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:16 am 
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Loren wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Loren wrote:
Serious suggestion: Consider switching to the flute, the high notes are much more pleasant. I quit playing whistle for the most part years ago because the whistle’s high notes are just too shrill for my ears. It’s painful. Flute, no problem at all in that respect, much more pleasing tone over all in fact.


Oh yeah, and unlike the whistle, which basically only works when played at one set volume, the flute can be played somewhat quietly if needs be.



I’ve never, ever, been able to get a damn sound out of a flute. Tried many many times, from the middle school band to the present, when we have flutes in the house—both a six hole “Irish” flute and a boehm system flute. I hate them. They feel terrible and awkward to hold and they resist my every effort to make a sound. It’s my fault, a fundamental disability like my inability to master algebra. My daughter, who plays the sax, can play the flute. I can play her sax, or at least get pleasing sounds and simple melodies. All the flute produces is an unpleasant rush of air and a shoulder strain. She laughs at me.

I agree though, flute has waaay more dynamic range, and much more varied timbre. I’m kind of drawn to the simplicity of the whistle. Creativity sometimes thrives on limits

Plus i do a lot of gigs on the upright bass and love the idea of an axe I can stash in my lapel pocket!


:boggle: :lol: Ok, I’m convinced flute is not for you! It was worth a shot, lol.

My alternative advice is to play with earplugs installed.

Either in you, or the whistle :P


LOL! I sat down with a Tony Dixon six hole polymer flute last night and did manage to make a few weak and sickly sounding notes. My daughter raised her eyebrows and then laughed again.

I'm sure if I really set myself to it I could do something with a flute. But isn't it true that some instruments just "feel" better to some people than others? Like the trumpet--wonderful instrument, but a couple toots and I realized that was not something I wanted to spend time getting used to. The left hand position on a flute is just awful for me though.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:25 am 
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You might try having a good,experienced whistle player try your whistles so you can hear what they sound like from a listener's point of view. They will probably sound better than they do with your ears only inches from the sound.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 3:50 am 
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On many(most?) whistles the higher the note, the more piercing it is. This is of course true of many other instruments as well. A fife or piccolo will sound more piercing than a flute. A fiddle more so than a cello...

When I play for older people I often use Low whistle and flute, but rarely high D whistles...


As for the MK whistles I've had, the 2nd Octave 6th note (B on a low D and F# on an A whistle) has always been slightly louder and less sweet than the notes below it.

If you want to try a low whistle with an unusually sweet high B, then the two that come to mind are the Chieftain Songbird ( a very mellow/sweet sounding whistle) and Iain Lambe's. None of them are very easy to come by though. And it seems that often the ones with the sweetest high notes have weaker low notes. Certainly true of the Lambe low Ds I've tried.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:40 am 
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I've only now recently experienced such a problem with the high end...I've played most of the "top" makers and most of the "standard" models, Gen. Feadog, Walton's, etc..( curently very happy with my set of Sindts) I've always been able to control the high end with breath or shading...A flute playing friend, one who I've played tunes with for years, pulled a Nickel vintage Copeland out of his case, never ever knew he had these (2 apparently)...The whistle sounded incredible....I've owned Copeland's in High and Low D and sold them both off (I do have a little remorse for selling the Low D however :( )...I gave his Copeland a try and loved the sound...thought about trading something for it and have it on loan as it just sounded that nice...the next day, after the loudish session, I gave it a go and the notes are beautiful, the response is great and I was loving this Copeland ( Number 11/Philadelphia with 4 leaf clover)...then comes the High A and B :shock: ...all notes below, from low D to second octave G are perfectly in tune with each other and my tuner....the high A and B are soooo sharp that the needle automatically goes hard right and would go even further....in this case, it is the whistle and not me! Copeland has been known too produce a "wonky" whistle every now and then...I sent both of mine back to Michael for re-voicing right after I received them after my initial purchase...Not saying your whistles have a design flaw though....I'm wondering if anyone has had such an experience with a Copeland High D? Sorry for the thread drift :) I was going to start a new thread but thought my post would be appropriate here. I really wanted this whistle as the in tune notes are some of the sweetest, smoothest sounding notes that I've ever produced and the response to ornamentents was very impressive...the low D crann in particular was the nicest that I'e ever played...so much so that I offererd to trade Eb/D/C/A/Bb Sindts for it if it was the whistle that I thought it was...alas, it is not and today my flute playing friend will be a little sad as he must have been dreaming about my Sindt set since Friday night's session....I doubt that there is a fix for this whistle though but if anyone has a thought, I'd love to hear how it could be "fixed"....It's prolly why Michael had them lying around his shop when my friend showed up to pick up a flute that was not there..he was offered two Nickel whistles instead, one High D and one C# oddly enough...now he is "stuck" with two "unplayable" whistles...he did warn me about the High A and B notes on Friday night....I didn't mind them being louder as that is quite common and thought I could control that part but there is no hope of those notes coming in tune I'm afraid :( Sorry about the longish post and thread drift...If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them...should I just start another thread?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:16 pm 
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whistle1000 wrote:
I've only now recently experienced such a problem with the high end...I've played most of the "top" makers and most of the "standard" models, Gen. Feadog, Walton's, etc..( curently very happy with my set of Sindts) I've always been able to control the high end with breath or shading...A flute playing friend, one who I've played tunes with for years, pulled a Nickel vintage Copeland out of his case, never ever knew he had these (2 apparently)...The whistle sounded incredible....I've owned Copeland's in High and Low D and sold them both off (I do have a little remorse for selling the Low D however :( )...I gave his Copeland a try and loved the sound...thought about trading something for it and have it on loan as it just sounded that nice...the next day, after the loudish session, I gave it a go and the notes are beautiful, the response is great and I was loving this Copeland ( Number 11/Philadelphia with 4 leaf clover)...then comes the High A and B :shock: ...all notes below, from low D to second octave G are perfectly in tune with each other and my tuner....the high A and B are soooo sharp that the needle automatically goes hard right and would go even further....in this case, it is the whistle and not me! Copeland has been known too produce a "wonky" whistle every now and then...I sent both of mine back to Michael for re-voicing right after I received them after my initial purchase...Not saying your whistles have a design flaw though....I'm wondering if anyone has had such an experience with a Copeland High D? Sorry for the thread drift :) I was going to start a new thread but thought my post would be appropriate here. I really wanted this whistle as the in tune notes are some of the sweetest, smoothest sounding notes that I've ever produced and the response to ornamentents was very impressive...the low D crann in particular was the nicest that I'e ever played...so much so that I offererd to trade Eb/D/C/A/Bb Sindts for it if it was the whistle that I thought it was...alas, it is not and today my flute playing friend will be a little sad as he must have been dreaming about my Sindt set since Friday night's session....I doubt that there is a fix for this whistle though but if anyone has a thought, I'd love to hear how it could be "fixed"....It's prolly why Michael had them lying around his shop when my friend showed up to pick up a flute that was not there..he was offered two Nickel whistles instead, one High D and one C# oddly enough...now he is "stuck" with two "unplayable" whistles...he did warn me about the High A and B notes on Friday night....I didn't mind them being louder as that is quite common and thought I could control that part but there is no hope of those notes coming in tune I'm afraid :( Sorry about the longish post and thread drift...If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them...should I just start another thread?



Yes, my Copeland high D has a slightly sharp upper second octave. Especially high B...


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:00 am 
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PB+J wrote:
I have a bunch of different whistles in D ranging from a Killarney to a Cillian O’Briain tweaked and an old Generation from the 1970s, and they all sound pretty shrill. I’ve played the same tune on a low D MK Pro, and on a Bb tweaked by freeman, and they all sound kinda tough on the top notes. i assume it’s even worse for my wife and daughter, since I’m almost 60 and have the typical diminished hi end hearing of a person my age.


Sustained high notes are always a bit intense, regardless of the whistle. You have some very nice ones, and although they are sweet, traditional-sounding whistles, they share one trait: a cylindrical bore.

The most pleasant-sounding whistle, to my ears, is the conical-bored Clarke Original (possibly with a bit of judicious tweaking--flattening the windway and adjusting the ramp, if needed). The tone is woody, round and sweet, the high notes chirp and sing, and the volume is on the softer side. The high notes seems to benefit from way the conical bore affects the octave relationship.

A common strategy when playing solo is to drop to a lower key. Even a C whistle is markedly more mellow than a D. Bb even more so. (Lower than that, and you're on to low whistles, which are in some ways a different instrument.)

Or, simplest of all, make a mute for your existing whistles. A mute can pretty dramatically take the edge off the high notes. Slide a narrow strip of card stock into the windway (long enough to pull it back out!), or stand a paperclip in front of the blade, or roll a little worm out of blue tac or Silly Putty, drape it over the blade, and adjust for best sound. (With a Clarke, you can make a wooden mute, out of toothpick, for instance, because the windway is wider than most other whistles. http://www.thewhistleshop.com/catalog/w ... uffler.htm)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:26 pm 
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This may or may not be relevant but just in case... Are you pushing air up from the bottom of your lungs by pushing your diaphragm in? Breathing like this all the time and most especially on the highest notes will make a huge difference. Those high notes will mellow out if you are breathing from way down in your belly. I just started a 70+ year old student and we laughed at the immediate improvement. Another thing that I noticed right away: as she approached her high notes she began tonguing each one to push the air. This shot of pressure contributes to the note sounding harsh. Combined with the fact the air was coming from the top half of her lungs the sound was quite brittle. Tonguing notes will come in handy someday for emphasis, but as a beginner I was told to slur everything and eventually separate notes with my fingers through taps and rolls, then lastly add tonguing.

An exercise for breathing is to lie on the floor with an object on your belly and breathe so you move that object up and down. If you have flutists and saxophonists in the house this may be old hat. On the other hand, they may have not gotten around to revealing this secret to their success.

I have my student making sure she plays the highest notes every day. In fact I told her, "If you don't have time to practice anything just play through a tune with the most high notes. She's learned The Butterfly and it fits the bill with the G A B A near the end of the second part. And it has a high percentage of easier notes in the rest of the tune. If that tune does not appeal, find one that does and do it daily until it is easy.

As to humor on the forum: I've been a lurker here forever and a poster more recently as time has allowed. But I noticed right away that many posters have a wonderfully dry sense of humor, one sometimes called "rye" in the old days. This fit in well with my brain and fit well in most posts. But it might need translation for a new soul. Almost everything I have read here over the years has been written with kind intentions.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:13 am 
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PB+J wrote:
I come from the world of jazz where taking extensive liberties with the melody is very much expected.


Taking extensive liberties with the melody is very much expected in traditional Irish music too.

Where I work I listen to professional jazz musicians all day every day. I listen to them, I chat with them on their breaks, I have learned a lot about jazz (which I don't play).

It seems to me that there are many parallels between jazz and traditional Irish music.

I noticed many years ago that trumpet solos, regardless of who the player was, tended to have certain melodic shapes, certain motifs, to the extent that if I saw the sheet music of various solos it would be easy to pick out the trumpet ones. Ditto sax and other instruments. When I discussed this with the musicians they explained that solos aren't "anything goes" but are expected to follow the stylistic or idiomatic parameters not only of jazz but also of the particular instrument.

This, seems to me, is the exact situation in traditional Irish music. You have much freedom when playing, but consciously or not the players will follow certain motifs or melodic shapes tied both to ITM as a whole and to their specific instrument.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:19 am 
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brewerpaul wrote:
You might try having a good,experienced whistle player try your whistles so you can hear what they sound like from a listener's point of view. They will probably sound better than they do with your ears only inches from the sound.


That's a wonderful suggestion.

Not only will the instruments sound different to you as a listener than as the player, but also you'll get to hear what the whistles sound like when played by an experienced whistle player.

That's why I think that regardless of Skype and such, in-person lessons with an experienced player are invaluable. On Skype the teacher can't play your instruments and find out what sounds are built into the instrument and what sounds are caused by the inexperience of the player.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:32 am 
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Loren wrote:
Serious suggestion: Consider switching to the flute, the high notes are much more pleasant. I quit playing whistle for the most part years ago because the whistle’s high notes are just too shrill for my ears. It’s painful. Flute, no problem at all in that respect, much more pleasing tone over all in fact.
Oh yeah, and unlike the whistle, which basically only works when played at one set volume, the flute can be played somewhat quietly if needs be.


That's a good suggestion.

Whistles have a fixed tone-production mechanism and the maker has to choose what he/she feels is the best balance between power in the low notes and sweetness in the high notes.

I've played a ton of Low Whistles and the diagnostic notes are usually E in the low octave and B in the 2nd octave. A whistle can have a generally strong low range but have a weak E, and a whistle can have a generally sweet 2nd octave but have a loud shouty B.

I think getting a good balance between the octaves is more difficult on Low Whistles than on high ones. Different makers have varying degrees of success.

The best-balanced Low D I've played was probably the Lofgren, which had a very strong Bottom D and low range in general yet a smooth sweet high range including High B.

There's always going to be a volume differential between the most-quiet low-octave notes (usually E and F#) and the loudest 2nd-octave notes (A and especially B). This really becomes apparent at a session. As I've mentioned I was at a session where it was just me on Low D Whistle and four guys on flute. On the low passages you couldn't hear me at all, while on the high passages I was louder than all four flutes together!

Flutes are superior in every way, really. Your embouchure tailors itself to the various notes and you can get huge booming low notes and sweet quiet high notes, if you want. You can play any note at any volume you want, while on whistle each note only is in tune at one level of blowing, and the volume level of each note can't be varied unless you blow the note sharp or flat.

Anyhow on whistle, especially Low D whistles, you often have that shouty High B and all you can do is

1) make sure all the holes are open, with no fingers even shading them (except of course the top hole!)

2) support the note well, from the diaphragm as mentioned above. When High B is even slightly underblown it can sound harsh.

3) arrange the tune to minimize the number and length of High B's. Cathall McConnell speaks to this issue, I can't remember his specific quote (he was talking about flute-playing as I recall).

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:46 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
I think getting a good balance between the octaves is more difficult on Low Whistles than on high ones.
Yes, there's a reason for this. The longer tube requires greater spacing between toneholes. It also leads to a larger bore, which demands larger toneholes. The greater spacing and larger toneholes run up against physical limitations of the players fingers, so you have less design freedom with a low whistle than a high whistle. By the time you get down to mezzo A, you're already running up against these limits.


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