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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:35 pm 
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Hey all,
I am plagued by not being able to always get a perfect B in the second octave. I am obsessively playing Ashokan Farewell (transposed to G) fixated on it, but still I break a lot.

I'm on a MK. Don't have the problem as much on my Tony Dixon but then can't use the beloved MK.
It could be the volume jumps so much at the A and B in the 2nd octave on the MK and I'm scared for my life by it.

Are there are any playing or breathing techniques you can share for softening that high note or delivering a confident B?
Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:08 am 
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In my mind, there are two areas of your playing to look at. First of all embouchure. Make sure the fipple isn't sitting IN your mouth, the end of it should be sitting ON your lower lip. This way, you have control over the amount and speed of air passing into the windway. What determines pitch is the speed of the air and by blowing a small amount of air fast you can get a high note without it being unnecessarily loud. To blow a 2nd octave B you need to have your lips shaping a hole smaller than the entrance to the windway. You also need to make sure your mouth cavity is as small as possible. Then blow hard! Try practising it without the whistle seeing how you can both decrease the amount of air you blow but also increase its speed.

But also where we breathe from makes a considerable difference. Breath coming from the diaphragm has much more speed and power. Learn to breathe from there. It will make all the difference, especially to playing 2nd octave B and above. If you hum out loud, you will feel it coming naturally from the diaphragm. Learn to breathe from there.

Hope this helps.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:00 am 
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imgoingtospain wrote:
Hey all,
I am plagued by not being able to always get a perfect B in the second octave. I am obsessively playing Ashokan Farewell (transposed to G) fixated on it, but still I break a lot.

I'm on a MK. Don't have the problem as much on my Tony Dixon but then can't use the beloved MK.
It could be the volume jumps so much at the A and B in the 2nd octave on the MK and I'm scared for my life by it.

Are there are any playing or breathing techniques you can share for softening that high note or delivering a confident B?
Thanks!

I have never really got with MK whistles - each to their own - so I don't fully know how they behave. However, on two of my low whistles - a Reyburn, maple head, and a truly stunning Copeland - I experience the following phenomenom: if I leave my bottom finger on, or even near the bottom hole, the B won't sound properly. As soon as I lift my bottom finger the problem is resolved.

Could it be as simple as that?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:42 am 
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Good point! I forgot that issue with some low whistles. But playing B with all the right-hand fingers down can make it easier i.e. XOOXXX.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:20 am 
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For sure Ashokan Farewell is a workout on the Low Whistle! It tests your fingering and blowing, the way it soars up and down the full range of the whistle.

Low Whistles seem to amplify the voicing issues that all whistles face. It's a balancing act, a compromise, between getting a High B that's not too harsh (or "shouty" as I call it) and getting strong low notes, especially Low E.

Evidently the very things whistlemakers do that sweeten High B also weaken the low notes, and the very things that strengthen the low notes makes High B harsh.

I have a load of experience playing MKs and yes you have to support or "blow out" High B, or it will be on the verge of breaking to the low octave, and sound harsh. It's tricky to "blow out" High B enough to sweeten it, but not make it go sharp. There's a trick: bend from High A up to High B, but leave the finger shading the hole just a bit, which flattens the note and allows you to blow High B stronger and not go too sharp. Various woodwinds, both folk and orchestral, have "venting" tricks like that.

The Low D I've owned which had the Holy Grail combination of sweet high notes and powerful low notes was the Lofgren. Have you played one? The one I had was amazing. (Who can say if they're all like that, whistles vary.) A tune like Ashokan Farewell was easier to play well on the Lofgren than on any of the MKs I owned.

Though I should say that I owned a half-dozen different MK Low D's over the years and each was a bit different. The one I kept and played for years had stronger low notes and sweeter high notes than the others.

Also currently I have two Colin Goldie Low Whistles, a Low D and a Low C, the heads of which are interchangeable. Both heads are great but one has a better combination of sweeter high notes and stronger low notes. Have you tried a Goldie Low D?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:22 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
on two of my low whistles - a Reyburn, maple head, and a truly stunning Copeland - I experience the following phenomenom: if I leave my bottom finger on, or even near the bottom hole, the B won't sound properly. As soon as I lift my bottom finger the problem is resolved.
Could it be as simple as that?


Yes I've found that to be generally true of Low Whistles.

On some it makes High B more a bit more harsh and a bit more difficult to sound, while on some it makes High B impossible to sound. The severity of the effect varies, but I don't think I've played a Low D that didn't have that effect to some extent.

It doesn't happen on my high whistles.

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1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:31 am 
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It doesn't happen on my high whistles.


The wider bore ones don't seem to like lazy fingerings but you're safe from it on the 'normal' or narrow bore ones.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:58 am 
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All of these seem to be working much better on first blush, thanks you very much for these techniques Richard, Benhall, and Mike. Very appreciated— I’ll get to work on them.

I have noticed the bottom finger phenomenon somewhat and have worked to find some alternative resting places for my fingers.

Richard, no I’ve only ever played a MK and Dixon. I’ll try to track down a Goldie or Lofgen when I start to get that wandering eye again.

On a related note, is there a difference between strong diaphragm breathing and belly breathing? If I take a massive in hale and flare out my throat as if I was to make a deep "ahh" sound I can get a powerful endless strong tone on the whistle but it clogs quickly.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:26 am 
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imgoingtospain wrote:
I have noticed the bottom finger phenomenon somewhat and have worked to find some alternative resting places for my fingers.

I just don't put my fingers on the whistle at all unless needed for the note being played. I mean, sometimes I do, but I don;t need to, and where there's an issue, as with a couple of my low whistles, then I don't.

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