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 Post subject: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:01 pm 
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There seem to be quite a few wooden whistles beings offered on the market today. I understand that wooden six holed fipple flutes have a long history, but I was wondering who first began making whistles out of wood for use in Irish Traditional Music?


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:02 pm 
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Uni Flute wrote:
There seem to be quite a few wooden whistles beings offered on the market today. I understand that wooden six holed fipple flutes have a long history, but I was wondering who first began making whistles out of wood for use in Irish Traditional Music?


I'm not sure if he's the first, but Glenn Schultz is a big name, even after his passing. I bet Paul Busman, another wooden whistle maker, would know more.

Obviously this depends on what you consider "made for use in Irish Traditional Music." The wooden flutes, which came to define an entire genre within ITM, were certainly not "made for use in ITM," but they were acquired and used by musicians for that purpose anyhow. Although I've never heard of an old player using a recorder or similar in lieu of a whistle, it's certainly a possibility. Medieval recorders certainly share significant characteristics with modern pennywhistles.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:16 pm 
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I got my Oroidan in the early nineties. Glen Schultz was making them at that time as well. I am not sure when Chris Abell started. I don't know if there is a history of wooden whistles that goes way back.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:49 pm 
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Ralph Sweet (may he rest in peace, and dance in heaven!) had been making flageolet, whistles, flutes and fifes since at least 1970. I have a flageolet numbered 1209, but I haven't looked up the info on it.

I'm thinking that wooden flageolets probably were made by Aulos before that, but I don't know.

As far as the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops was created by Ralph who sold the equipment to Cooperman's. That design may be the first true tin whistle mass producted in the US.

N.B I am not a historian.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:10 am 
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Wooden whistles have been around a long time. Thankfully few made it into Irish music but there are a few examples. Paddy Breen playing his Orkon was one more wellknown one. John Killourhy, for some reason, was always looking for wooden whistles. He carried a photocopy of an advertisement for wooden whistles from a company in Dresden, from the 1930s. If he got an inkling you may have European connections he would produce it and ask if you could to contact them for him. Telling him a 1930s company in Dresden would have had little hope of survival into the eighties/nineties (or beyond 1945) wouldn't deter him and he would ask again next time you met him. John did also get wooden whistles from Ralph Sweet, who named a design after him. They, let's put it mildly, were not very well liked by other musicians, for their loudness and tone (sorry, but that the way it was).

I have seen a fair number of older wooden whistles come up on Ebay over time, I remember one in a very nice wooden box, from the 1920s, which was originally sold at Harrod's in London. Not for the Irish market, I would think.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:12 am 
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I love wooden whistles. I don't know about a long history specifically for Irish traditional music, but, I would guess that there may be a long unwritten history by instrument makers thru the years. I would suspect that flutemakers and uilleann pipemakers made a few wooden whistles perhaps as a novelty or experiment that rarely ever got mentioned.

And it is good to see currently mentioned whistlemakers active with the various wood types.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:49 am 
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I think I'd agree with Sweet and Schultz being among the first to supply wooden whistles during the post 1960s folk & renfest craze. Though without some specific evidence to the contrary, I think I'd stop short of saying their intention was to specifically supply the modern ITM movement.

As for earlier attempts, surely the English flageolet itself (Bainbridge being one of the more famous makers) could be argued as the first potential contender. And this would be in the 19th century, predating the metal flageolets (Clarke, B&S, et al). But those flageolets were marketed more towards gentlemen seeking to make & play music, but without all the troubles inherent in recorders and flutes; as opposed to the tin "toy" flageolets that found their way into the folk tradition. I have a couple old flageolets that have been "cut" in order to form a beak so they can be played like a recorder. I would not be surprised if those instruments were used by someone to play some impromptu dance music or a gay air.

Another possible contender, this time early 20th century and almost certainly aimed at British traditional folk music in broad, if not ITM in specific, is the Shepherd Pipe Flageolet. (Scroll down a bit to picture 5). Clearly wood; clearly a whistle as we'd recognise today; clearly predates the mid-century folk revival; clearly antedates all the modern whistle makers.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:13 am 
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Quote:
As far as the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops was created by Ralph who sold the equipment to Cooperman's. That design may be the first true tin whistle mass produced in the US.


Wait, what? Ralph Sweet created the first American rolled-metal whistles? I have a hard time believing that.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:24 am 
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MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Quote:
As far as the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops was created by Ralph who sold the equipment to Cooperman's. That design may be the first true tin whistle mass produced in the US.


Wait, what? Ralph Sweet created the first American rolled-metal whistles? I have a hard time believing that.


I think "the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops" means the specific instance of rolled metal tin whistles that we now know and love as the "Cooperman whistle", which is indeed available at every US history tourist trap and gift shop in the country. Not that Ralph Sweet invented the tin whistle or even the rolled metal type, as that predates him by more than a century.

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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:02 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:
MadmanWithaWhistle wrote:
Quote:
As far as the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops was created by Ralph who sold the equipment to Cooperman's. That design may be the first true tin whistle mass produced in the US.


Wait, what? Ralph Sweet created the first American rolled-metal whistles? I have a hard time believing that.


I think "the rolled tin whistle that is now ubiquitous in gift shops" means the specific instance of rolled metal tin whistles that we now know and love as the "Cooperman whistle", which is indeed available at every US history tourist trap and gift shop in the country. Not that Ralph Sweet invented the tin whistle or even the rolled metal type, as that predates him by more than a century.

Image



That makes much more sense. I don't think I've ever seen a Cooperman whistle (or many other whistles) in a gift shop in my life, so I wasn't tracking with what specifically you were talking about.


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:14 pm 
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There is some really interesting information in this thread. I do not want to get too off topic, however the flaviol (flabiol) is a Catalan type of fipple flute with a cylindrical bore and designed to be played with one hand. While not very useful for ITM, it may be one of the earlier examples of this type of instrument being produced for Celtic music (albeit in Catalonia)


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden Whistles
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:33 pm 
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I have what I think is a Cooperman whistle. My first; bought at the Fortress Louisbourg gift shop in Cape Breton. I used to think it was unplayable.... just had a toot and it's actually very nice, sweet whistle.

I also have a Cooperman fife my girls gave me.... just picked it up again and got no further with it than last time. I can't get much of a sound out of it, and I do play flute.

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