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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:33 pm 
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Are Burke Whistles considered professional whistles? I am curious what your thoughts are. I have a Narrow Bore D I just got and am liking very much.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:48 pm 
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A professional whistle is whatever whistle a professional whistle player plays.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:11 pm 
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Some professionals and very good players use the Burke, but so do ordinary folks. I have heard professionals playing the plain Sweetone beautifully as well, including other humble whistles. It is amazing how good players make humble whistles sing. It is also rather sobering listening to some people playing terribly on expensive whistles.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:11 pm 
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I do believe and this goes for all instruments that a pro player can make up for the shortcomings of an inferior instrument while an amateur/not so experienced one can't.
That's why a beginner must find a good instrument (within logical limits of course)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:06 pm 
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I agree with all that has been said. I wouldn't call myself a beginner, but being trained in clarinet and minored in music in the classical approach to music, I need Irish traditional music style training. I have other penny whistles, but I recently decided to sit down and commit myself to learning more about the instrument and Irish technique. So I bought a Burke Whistle for serious learning.

I have signed up for the Online Academy of Irish Music, because of the lack of teachers in my area of East Tennessee. I have been unable to locate any.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:59 am 
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ddp wrote:
I do believe and this goes for all instruments that a pro player can make up for the shortcomings of an inferior instrument while an amateur/not so experienced one can't.
That's why a beginner must find a good instrument (within logical limits of course)


That comes dangerously close to an unfalsifiable claim.

The question comes up:

"Should I buy X brand of cheap whistle?"
"Oh no" comes the reply, "they are an inferior instrument with this or that shortcoming, buy the expensive Y whistle instead."
"But Z plays X brand and they sound great."
"Ah, but Z is a professional, they can make any old thing sound great."

Of course, this raises the question as to why the professional would choose to play an "inferior instrument", and what on earth you think they learnt on when they started?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:58 am 
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Matthewlawson3 wrote:
Are Burke Whistles considered professional whistles? I am curious what your thoughts are. I have a Narrow Bore D I just got and am liking very much.


High whistles are an outlier in the world of musical instruments where the general rule is "you get what you paid for".

Back in the day Generation D's were the only D whistles available. Therefore of necessity everyone played them, ranging from people using them essentially as toys to professionals playing them on concert tours and in recording studios.

Even today one will often see Generations in the hands of studio musicians, and the whistle you hear on a TV or movie score might be a $8 Generation.

For example the multi-instrumentalist Hollywood studio musician Chris Bleth, who shows up at gigs with duffel-bags full of bamboo flutes and panpipes and Generation whistles and all sorts of random instruments he's collected over the years. (You never know what sound the composer will want.)

I have also seen this type of player- "reed men" in the parlance, though some are women- show up in the studio with rolls of gleaming Burkes in every chromatic key. ("Reed men" play sax, clarinet, and flute as a rule, but also often have whistles and panpipes and bamboo flutes, and sometimes play oboe too.)

So in the world of professional studio musicians yes Burkes are professional instruments, but so are Generations, and cheap bamboo flutes, and all sorts of random things.

I have found, on many occasions, that studio musicians favour a different sort of whistle performance than Irish trad players. Trad players often want a sweet 2nd octave, with easy and nimble response between octaves, while players coming from reed instruments often favour a distinct break between the octaves in other words a stiffer 2nd octave.

In tone, people coming from studio or orchestral backgrounds often perfer a cleaner, rounder, more Recorder-like whistle tone while trad players are often fine with what might be called a reedier tone.

Which is why studio and orchestral players who have tried Burkes usually really like them. Burkes tend to have a larger bore for a given size, an exceptionally full round low octave, a slightly stiff 2nd octave, and clean pure tone, all positives for them. If asked by an orchestral or studio player ("legit" players in the parlance) I will always recommend Burkes.

Personally I feel that I get the performance I want more out of vintage Generations and other inexpensive whistles than out of Burkes and other expensive whistles. (I'm talking high whistles now.) An exception to this I've experienced are Sindts which play uncannily like many very good vintage Generation whistles, with the traditional responsive 2nd octave etc. I've seen one professional studio player show up with a roll of Sindts in every chromatic key.

About good players being able to get the most out of a mediocre instrument yes, however it's nearly universal that the instruments you see in the hands of top players, the best professional instruments, are easier to play (in every way) than cheap beginner instruments. One could say that professional players are lazy! Or merely canny? Music is their work and they're not going to work harder than they need to, to get the job done.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:47 am 
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Interesting. I, myself, have adapted to the soft break between Tin Whistle octaves.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:19 am 
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ecadre wrote:
ddp wrote:
I do believe and this goes for all instruments that a pro player can make up for the shortcomings of an inferior instrument while an amateur/not so experienced one can't.
That's why a beginner must find a good instrument (within logical limits of course)


That comes dangerously close to an unfalsifiable claim.

The question comes up:

"Should I buy X brand of cheap whistle?"
"Oh no" comes the reply, "they are an inferior instrument with this or that shortcoming, buy the expensive Y whistle instead."
"But Z plays X brand and they sound great."
"Ah, but Z is a professional, they can make any old thing sound great."

Of course, this raises the question as to why the professional would choose to play an "inferior instrument", and what on earth you think they learnt on when they started?


Indeed, the are extremities in both ways. That's why I wrote within logical limit.
I wasn't particularly referring to cheap instruments but to problematic ones. An expensive one is expected to be trouble free but a cheap one may or may not be. Right?
I remember years ago when I was having some lessons (keyboard) at a school no teacher no matter the instrument would advice parents to buy the cheapest possible.
We want to learn to play the instrument and make music, not to fight it.
For example if a whistle is wrongly drilled and we have to half hole one or two notes to make it sound correctly, wouldn't that make it an inferior instrument for a beginner player but pose no problem for a pro?


pancelticpiper wrote:
...


Very interesting background info. Thank you.
Out of curiosity and in your opinion what is the cheapest brand that makes 'guaranteed' medium whistles (around Bb-A keys)?


Last edited by ddp on Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:21 am 
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ddp wrote:
For example if a whistle is wrongly drilled and we have to half hole one or two notes to make it sound correctly, wouldn't that make it an inferior instrument for a beginner player but pose no problem for a pro?

It would be quite unsuitable for either!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:31 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
ddp wrote:
For example if a whistle is wrongly drilled and we have to half hole one or two notes to make it sound correctly, wouldn't that make it an inferior instrument for a beginner player but pose no problem for a pro?

It would be quite unsuitable for either!

He could make it work though. With a bit of :swear:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:38 am 
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ddp wrote:
Peter Duggan wrote:
ddp wrote:
For example if a whistle is wrongly drilled and we have to half hole one or two notes to make it sound correctly, wouldn't that make it an inferior instrument for a beginner player but pose no problem for a pro?

It would be quite unsuitable for either!

He could make it work though. With a bit of :swear:


Re-read this from above, just saying...
About good players being able to get the most out of a mediocre instrument yes, however it's nearly universal that the instruments you see in the hands of top players, the best professional instruments, are easier to play (in every way) than cheap beginner instruments. One could say that professional players are lazy! Or merely canny? Music is their work and they're not going to work harder than they need too, to get the job done.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:21 pm 
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You misunderstood me or I wasn't clear.
I think I 'm saying the same thing. A beginner/amateur also needs a descent instrument and not the cheapest available that might be of dubious quality. There's no reason for anyone to have to fight the instrument itself to make it work.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:00 pm 
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Richard, "pancelticpiper", I think I am with you on these "high" whistles, that is soprano and the higher alto whistles.

It seems that I like a quieter whistle, more narrow bore, easy second octave, easy flow, "traditional" sound and all that. These are whistles that I hardly have to think about when I play them. I just go to play any note and it's just there. I don't have to think that it's in the first or second octave and how to blow that note. These are of course the whistles I learnt on as a child and have mostly played all my life.

It's easy to get caught up with whole quest for a perfect whistle and that slightly paranoid thought that there may be something "wrong", that other people are enjoying these great whistles, which must be great because everyone is talking about them and saying how great they are etc.

That Burke whistle that the OP (Matthewlawson3) has is surely a fine whistle. I hope that he's enjoying it and having fun playing it and hasn't been put off by this discussion. Also, if he's using a bit of psychology upon himself to encourage himself in learning, more power to him and I hope it works.

I once tried a friends Burke whistle, and it played well. Clear tone, good intonation, I could hit the notes well, but in the end it didn't really appeal to me. One thing was that second octave "stiffness", another was that it was a bit too pure and loud, and the price didn't appeal to me either. I know what happens to tin whistles that travel around with me :-D

Matthewlawson3, I note that you say that you are a trained clarinet player. That's probably the simple explanation of the difference in what we are expecting, or comfortable with, in playing a tin whistle.

I got an Impempe D whistle which I quite like. It tends to play with a more rounded and "robust" tone than my Generations, and in fact it does start down that road towards bigger bores and the stiff second octave etc. I have a problem with it which means that I've started playing on Generation Ds again much more and I'm now wondering what my issue was with them that caused me to want another whistle?

There is a concern I have with some online forums. Not really this one because of the variety of people, and the many experienced players. But, there is some pretty vehement and bad advice that is often given to beginners on some forums (in fact I'm thinking of a particular place).

Some of it is downright bizarre in terms of recommended techniques. But, one thing that keeps happening is that each time some novice asks about the sounds they are getting out of their whistle or whether they can learn on a common cheap brand of whistle, there is an immediate crop of comments that do not deal with the actual question, but fiercely propound their view that X brand of more expensive tin whistle is the holy grail that all beginners should (must!) buy or miserably fail. When I've had a look at who these people are (yes, just links to other comments, youtube and stuff, nothing more), it's invariably been some pretty inexperienced or isolated player (even rank novice themselves) that is effectively brow-beating people. The web can be a great resource, but there are many pitfalls.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:27 am 
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Quote:
But, one thing that keeps happening is that each time some novice asks about the sounds they are getting out of their whistle or whether they can learn on a common cheap brand of whistle, there is an immediate crop of comments that do not deal with the actual question, but fiercely propound their view that X brand of more expensive tin whistle is the holy grail that all beginners should (must!) buy or miserably fail. When I've had a look at who these people are (yes, just links to other comments, youtube and stuff, nothing more), it's invariably been some pretty inexperienced or isolated player (even rank novice themselves) that is effectively brow-beating people. The web can be a great resource, but there are many pitfalls.


This seems to happen on all special interest forums, unfortunately.

To an extend it's understandable, people have moved into something new to them, have decided it's their 'thing' and become evangelical about it. They have also just shelled out a fair amount of money on kit so they first of all want to share that with the world and certainly don't want to hear you may get better results and easier playing from something costing a fiver.

But it plays into another thing I often see : confirmation bias. A poster develops a notion, say, that they should buy a particular whistle or whatever and asks advice. But what they're really interested in is confirmation of what they are already thinking, justification to take the next step. They don't want to hear contrary advice, they'll get the hump if you tell them anything they don't want to hear. So to them it doesn't matter if someone knows what they are talking about, as long as it confirms their own thinking.

People also come to the whistle with expectations that are not realistic. I often stress here the whistle is what it is and it's best to approach it on its own terms. But with that comes the need to put in the work, to sit down until you can make them sound well. And that is a different from the instant gratification that comes with going on a buying spree. And buying a more expensive whistle is going to make things easier/better, isn't it?

I think the recent thread I bought whistle X and it's not what I expected, what should I do, took the cake in that department. It's hardly the whistle's fault is it? Get realistic expectations and learn to play the thing and if you still don't like it accept you made the wrong choice based on opinions from random people on the internet. What else is there to say?

The things is, the whistle is one of the easiest instruments to play simple tunes on. That doesn't mean you pick it up and just play away. There are a few skills you need to develop to make it sound, no matter if you paid a fiver for your whistle or 250. And if you want to play Irish music, there's a lifelong job there you can get your teeth into, if you want to understand it in fine detail.

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