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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:37 pm 
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Where, (at what key), does a whistle go from being a soprano to an alto, an alto to a low, & a low go to a bass whistle?

Can we have a definitive classification for us 'newbies', so as to use the right terminology when talking about our new acquisitions. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:56 pm 
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I'd say, soprano ranges down to Bb. A to Eb is IMO alto, but I guess a Eb (and E) could be counted to the low-category. Then low D, maybe low C. Below C, I'd say bass. Problem is that "low" is basically what would be Tenor on a recorder. Alto recorders go down to F. Not sure if you'd call a #E whistle a tenor or low or an alto. Since recorders in soprano and tenor have C as bellnote, IMO the system cannot be exactly the same, because on whistles (for ITM and AFAIK Scottish trad at least), D is the standard, I don't think it's possible to just take the same system as for recorders. I'm not even sure, there is a fixed system that everybody uses.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:14 pm 
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I don't often see "soprano" or "alto" used in conjunction with whistles. That system kind of works well with recorders because there are basically two keys recorders come in (F & C) and in an astounding range of sizes (from garklein down to whopping big contrabass). For the same reason, it works well with saxophones.

But whistles come in basically every (or nearly every) key. With such fine gradations in the range of whistles, I think it becomes more a matter of argument than agreement as to which are "alto" and which are "soprano" and which are "descant".

That said, the vast majority of whistle keys fall within a two groupings: the "low" and the "high". I think it's easy enough to divide them basically at the G/A or A/Bb point. Thus all the whistles from Bb up to g are "high whistles" and all the whistles from A down to BBb are "low".

Outside these two groupings are the much rarer "bass", below the low, and the even rarer "wee", above the high. Probably most people would consider whistles in AA and GG to be "bass". Certainly when you get down into the whistles in DD, those are I'm sure commonly understood to be "bass whistles". At the other end, there are wee whistles in dd and gg (an octave higher than the "high d" and "high g" respectively). Not many makers venture into these stratospheric regions.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:23 pm 
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Forget that Alto and Soprano stuff, that's recorder talk and is quite happy in that context. We whistle players are simpler souls and High, Low and Low Low are easier for us to work with. I've always reckoned that these groups should follow simple alphabetical patterns; ie Low Low starts at A and rises to G#, the next A is a Low A, the next High A and the next, if you want to go that far is a High High A. Some would disagree I'm sure.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:46 pm 
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Hmmmm.... I knew it would come to this......

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Last edited by Tommy on Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:49 pm 
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:lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:07 am 
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Well it had to asked! :D

So, most think anythng above Bb is 'high' - Bb is either 'high' or alto, (but there are no alto whistles). :lol:

Therefore, an 'A' & a 'G' are 'low' whistles, (not altos, as they don't exist). ;)

Then it's 'low' all the way down to the 'D' - after that we are in 'bass' territory.

:thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:31 am 
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Bernard Overton (as far as I recall), called the whistle that he made (an octave below a Generation D whistle), a tenor D.

The name low D became popularised since it was "low" when compared to the Generation D. Remember, Generation whistles were it at the time. There were not even any Clarke D whistles, Generation was the only choice.

The only sensible high/low schemata that I can cook up is in relation to this high/low pairing. So an Alto G might be a "low whistle" since it is an octave below the Generation G. Any scheme that designates an A whistle as "low" seems wrong to me. An A whistle is not particularly "low" in sound, or style of playing, and it is not the "low" counterpart to a common "high" whistle.

To be honest, I'm really with Bernard on this. I'd give some ground on the low D, but the rest of it all becomes a bit sketchy. Colin Goldie seems to have it all worked out though :-)

In the end, these designations only serve to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:17 am 
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Well down here in Australia, and in England, recorders are treble and descant, not alto and soprano. So even those designations vary.

And recorders get complicated also, you can get altos in G as well as F, and then there are voice flutes and all sorts of things like that.

I don't think these pitch range labels need to be strict.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:38 am 
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In the end, these designations only serve to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.


That is the truth of it, & why I put the question forward - I usually use the piano notes/octaves to describe my instruments. :)

My 'high' 'C' is actually a C5, & my 'low' F is an F4, my 'A' is A4, with my low 'D' being a D4 - (octaves go from C to C on piano - middle C is C4).

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:47 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
Quote:
In the end, these designations only serve to make sure that we are talking about the same thing.


That is the truth of it, & why I put the question forward - I usually use the piano notes/octaves to describe my instruments. :)

My 'high' 'C' is actually a C5, & my 'low' F is an F4, my 'A' is A4, with my low 'D' being a D4 - (octaves go from C to C on piano - middle C is C4).


I thought whistles sound the note as written (unlike recorders, which actually sound an octave higher)? So, D4 (D just above middle C) is a high whistle, while "low D" would be D3? Is my music theory off?


I suppose perhaps if you really wanted to, you could order the designation according to the way human voices would be classified? It seems to sort of follow that anyway. That is, many sopranos (probably amateur-choir sopranos more than professional classical/operatic sopranos with greater range) will find getting down to A3 and G3 uncomfortable and consider it the realm of altos. Most (female) altos won't want to make their way too far below F3 or so so anything below that is tenor-land. It falls apart a bit getting into the tenor vocal range since they usually don't consider themselves limited down to D or even C, but below that perhaps they might prefer to leave it to the basses (maybe not. I remember consulting one choir-tenor friend on whether a piece I was writing that made extensive use of B2 for the tenors was going to be uncomfortable for/badly received by most choral tenors and he said no).

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:56 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
I thought whistles sound the note as written (unlike recorders, which actually sound an octave higher)? So, D4 (D just above middle C) is a high whistle, while "low D" would be D3? Is my music theory off?

Yes. It's physics... a whistle a foot long sounds at a comparable pitch to a recorder of similar length. And not all recorders sound an octave up; for example (of the most common five) sopranino, descant (soprano) and bass do whereas treble (alto) and tenor don't.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:47 am 
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My main instrument has been chromatic harmonica, most regular chromatics start on C4 & go up to C7, but I prefer lower bottom end notes, & I have tenor/low C (C3), & 'orchestra' tuned which start on G3, (also known as violin tuning by some).

When I came to whistles, the regular high D is a D5, (up there with my old soprano/descant recorders), whose music was written an octave lower, so that it fitted a regular stave. (I used to mainly play tenor or alto, which fitted the regular stave.)

When I took up ukuleles, I couldn't really get on with the re entrant high G, because I played mainly melodies, so I'd put on a low G, & that gave me G3 upwards to play with.

Now I'm finding I need whistles in the lower keys to be comfortable for me to play the music I like. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:58 am 
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From what I've seen the soprano, alto, tenor, bass designations for whistles are just rough attempts to show the lowest pitch of the instruments. While the use of "low" seems to be relegated for the "A" below a regular "D", and everything below that A.

Here's a potentially handy summary from small to bigger (again, C4 is middle C):

Lowest Pitch....Whistle........Recorder
C6....................................Garklein
F5....................................Sopranino
D5..................D................-
C5..................C................Soprano
Bb4................Bb...............-
A4..................Low A..........-
G4..................Low G.........-
F4...................Low F.........Alto
E4..................Low E..........-
D5..................Low D.........-
C4..................Low C.........Tenor

And so on. I didn't do all the pitches, but you get the point. A bass recorder is at F3, a great bass at C3, and a contrabass at F2.

Hope that helps!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 8:30 am 
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fatmac wrote:
I need whistles in the lower keys to be comfortable for me to play the music I like. :)


:-?

fatmac wrote:
Where, (at what key), does a whistle go from being a soprano to an alto, an alto to a low, & a low go to a bass whistle?
Can we have a definitive classification for us 'newbies', so as to use the right terminology when talking about our new acquisitions. :D


What?
Sooooo......... what are the lower keys and higher keys. It depends on what terminology the whistle was made to play soprano, alto, tenor, bass? Is the circle of fifths the same as the - oh no don't start that again Eh. :boggle:

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