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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:59 pm 
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Hi all,
I had hoped to search on this and find existing threads to read, but I couldn't. So, any advice on playing G# on a D whistle, other than half-holing? I find it very difficult to get it to sound clean on anything but the slowest passages.

Thanks!
Tom


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:26 pm 
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good morning,

depending on the tune (and whistle), I use either:

xxD ooo

or

xxo xxo (or xxo xxx)

for my whistles, the cross fingered option seems to work better with thick walled whistles, the half hole seems to work better with thin walls.

YMMV.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:07 pm 
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Good question, Tom,

I've been wrestling with this one too -- because I'm becoming more and more chromatic (I'll keep taking the tablets). It's an enticing thought that just about any tune is playable on the simple six-hole whistle, as long as it stays within a two-octave-ish tessitura. So this morning, for example, I was having a go at Debussy's Syrinx. I don't think that tune will end up in my repertoire, but I certainly do play other tunes that need accidentals (notes that are not part of the native diatonic scale of the whistle).

Like you, I wanted to find a reliable way of playing G sharp (A flat) without half-holing. This allows me to play tunes such as The Bluebell Polka, I Will Wait for You (Legrand, not Mumford), Bach's Wachet Auf, Greensleeves and even Zambezi. By the way, one superb resource for finding new tunes is the app 'MuseScore'. You can even transpose everything into D to make it potentially playable on a whistle.

Half-holing always works for G sharp, but is sometimes tricky to do cleanly at speed or in certain sequences of notes. Cross fingering usually works in the lower octave. This can be XXO XXX , as Jim says. It isn't always bang-on in terms of tuning (though at speed - which is why we are using cross fingering in the first place - that might not be an issue). But it turns out that some whistles will not allow a cross-fingered G sharp in the upper octave: it is half-holing or nothing. For whistles that do permit cross-fingering up there, this might work: XXO XXO.

I say 'might' because it depends on the whistle's key, and even varies between two whistles by the same maker in the same key and made from the same timber -- but with different bores. (Of course, it's not G sharp any more on, say, a Bb whistle [it's actually E natural], but the principle is the same).

Warm regards for Christmas and 2019 ... during which you might tackle cross-fingering the note B flat ;-)

Sean in Tipperary


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:28 pm 
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Thanks for the thoughts on this, gives me some things to explore when nobody's within earshot! ;-)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:28 am 
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It would be well worth your time to learn to do half holing well. It IS possible. It would let you play Eb,Fnat,G#,Cnat etc all without having to remember all kinds of funky cross fingerings. Those don't always work on all whistles, but half holing always works.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:41 am 
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If your question is purely about playing G# on a D whistle then yes it's merely a matter of practice to get good at half-holing.

If on the other hand your question is about playing G# on tunes in the key of D, you can play those tunes on an A whistle, which has the note G# right under your fingers.

With sufficient practice half-holed notes can be just as precise as notes that have their own tone-holes. I'm not that good, but I've heard people who are.

Possibly the best person at half-holing I've ever seen in person is Vicente Prado ("el Praviano") who is astoundingly good at playing tunes in minor keys on the Asturian bagpipe, on which there's no way to cross-finger the minor 3rd. It must be done by half-holing.

Here.

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

It's because the Major 3rd on the gaita Asturiana is fingered x | xxx xoxo so you can't use that fingering for the minor 3rd like you can on the gaita Galega.

There was another thread on this very topic recently and I mentioned that I had made a D whistle with a built-in G#, due to doing much studio work at that time, and the facility of sightreading on a D. Or you could go the fife route and put a G# hole in a D whistle, covered up the upper-hand little finger. Fife players are quite facile at playing with that extra hole.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:02 am 
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Dear fellow whistlers, Tom asked a reasonable question about avoiding half-holing for G sharp on a whistle. To this eminently sensible query, some contributors have advocated half-holing. That's a bit like the apocryphal response from a local to the tourist asking the way to Dublin: "I wouldn't start from here".

The use of alternative fingering to avoid half-holing is a perfectly valid technique. It can make some tunes playable which would otherwise be pretty challenging.

I'm in favour of extending technique to extend repertoire, and finding alternative fingering is part of that.

For example, I couldn't play Girl From Ipanema until I discovered this unusual fingering for F natural:

XXX XDD

Try playing it yourself (starting on the E in the second octave). When you reach the second part of the tune, you'll probably need my (admittedly bizarre) fingering. I use it at the line: "How can I tell her I love her?"

Does anyone else employ unusual fingerings to solve musical problems?

Warm regards,

Sean in Tipperary.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:20 am 
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seanpmoran wrote:
Dear fellow whistlers, Tom asked a reasonable question about avoiding half-holing for G sharp on a whistle. To this eminently sensible query, some contributors have advocated half-holing.


We all realise what was asked. Which is why I mentioned three alternatives

1) play tunes in D Major on an A whistle, one which G# is an available note

2) carve out the G hole on a D whistle to make it sound G#. Of course this ruins the whistle for ordinary use, but I've done it to create a dedicated three-sharp D whistle for studio work

3) create a dedicated G# hole on a D whistle, which then necessitates covering this hole with the upper-hand little finger when G natural, F#, E, and D are wanted.

The reason I did not discuss cross-fingerings is because cross-fingering G# is not a viable option. No whistle I've ever owned, in 40 years of whistle playing, has produced a usable (that is, in tune and with decent tone) G# in the low register with cross-fingering.

The fact is that half-holing G# is the most common approach to getting that note, having proven to be successful, and merely requiring practice.

It's common on various music boards for a newbie to mention difficulty with a particular technique and inquire about alternative ways of getting on. Usually, experienced players advocate facing the technique head-on, and overcoming the issue with practice, because they know that there's no viable way to avoid the required technique. I could be wrong, but I feel that the OP's case is of that sort. Yet, I offered three alternatives, none of which are as useful, perhaps, as simply getting good at half-holing.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 8:43 am 
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So there you have it, Tom.

To play G sharp, you can half-hole, or buy a whistle in A, or take a drill to your whistle ...

Or try XXO XXX

Isn't it grand to have choices? ;-)

Enjoy the experimentation! (B flat and C natural next).

Sean in Tipperary.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:49 pm 
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Indeed, a very illuminating volley of bits on the subject! I am not opposed to doing the heavy lifting of learning half-holing for this note: I use the technique for a number of tunes, but it's pretty challenging when the note happens in certain quick runs. I just wanted to see if it would stir up any useful knowledge I could experiment with on my Schultz whistles.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:11 pm 
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To practice speed for the half-holing technique, try playing each note on the whistle to the half-holed G#: B>G#, A>G#, G>G#, F#>G#, E>G#, D>G#. Start slowly, focusing on getting a clear, in tune G# note to sound. Once you get comfortable, try it faster. After getting that down, try using the technique in 3 note passages. I used this method at the suggestion of my teacher and it works very well. I started using the practice technique for my C natural, which I prefer to half-hole. You may find that tonguing and/or cutting helps you get a clearer result as well. Good Luck!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:07 am 
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This is interesting to read. I have a Sindt whistle in A that is the most fun whistle to play: it sounds great, it plays beautifully, but the cross fingered "c Nat" (G) is just weird. The Sindt whistle makes me want to learn to half hole more effectively. I've no problem in slow tunes, butt he fast ones seem impossible to do well.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:40 pm 
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I use XXO XXX on my Goldies all the time and it gives a good G# in the first octave. I prefer half holing the second octave though.


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