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 Post subject: Side blown low whistle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:03 pm 
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I've been playing the flute a lot, and neglecting the low whistle. When I go back to it I notice what's always been true: I find the low whistle very hard to hold. The high whistle, no problem, but the low whistle is tough. I know this is not true for everyone, but it's true for me and I'm a big strong guy who can play the double bass for three hour gigs so I feel like I've got strong hands.

The transverse flute gives me no problems at all.

I know that back in the day it was common for flute to be sold with whistle mouthpieces, so you would effectively be playing a side blown fipple flute

Does anyone make a sideblown, transverse low whistle? I know I know, just play the flute, but I find the flute and the whistle to be two distinctive instruments, each with different capabilities.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:23 pm 
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My first thought was Hammy's practice flute but then it occurred to me you're probably looking for a whistle with an angled mouth piece rather than a sideblown whistle body with a flute embouchure.

Susato used to make low whistles with angled head but they still weren't transverse instruments as the head wasn't angled to the side. . The early 20th and late 19th century saw some metal whistles with a sideblown mouthpiece but they weren't low whistles as you want them.

Along these lines :

Image


Perhaps a custom job from a maker interested in experimenting?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:35 pm 
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I assume you could just make a mouthpiece on a ring and and slide it over a hole in the top of a whistle tube. But what do I know! I suspect I'm not the only person who finds holding a low whistle comfortably challenging. I should just try those susato thumb rest thingies. Works for clarinet players


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:02 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
I should just try those susato thumb rest thingies. Works for clarinet players

I'd suggest starting there; you could even design your own.

The thing about an adaptive whistle mouthpiece on a transverse flute is that you lose the capacity for nuance, which to me defeats the whole purpose of having a flute in your hands in the first place. But, YMMV on that account.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:27 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
PB+J wrote:
I should just try those susato thumb rest thingies. Works for clarinet players

I'd suggest starting there; you could even design your own.

The thing about an adaptive whistle mouthpiece on a transverse flute is that you lose the capacity for nuance, which to me defeats the whole purpose of having a flute in your hands in the first place. But, YMMV on that account.


Right I understand that, I play the flute, but people who play the flute also play low whistles because they're different instruments. It's just, in what I'm talking abut, a question of how they're held. Holding a whistle in a transverse position, I'm thinking, wouldn't change the playing characteristics of the whistle.

I think--and I may be wrong here--that part of what makes a low whistle diffrent is the thin wall. What I find--which of course others might disagree with--is that slides are more dramatic on the whistle, while on the flute you get better control of intonation and timbre.


Mr Gumby posted a picture of the kind of thing I'm talking about. I suppose you could argue that the Low whistle existed in the nineteenth century


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:47 pm 
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I hold the ones that are slippery or heavy a bit more horizontally. Works for me.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:28 pm 
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Mr Gumby’s picture looks some fifes I have seen with what they call a cheater mouthpiece.
There is a whistle maker in Maine “The Whistlesmith” that I have seen a side blown whistle. I have never seen his whistles or heard one.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:56 pm 
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Tommy wrote:
Mr Gumby’s picture looks some fifes I have seen with what they call a cheater mouthpiece.

That was my impression from the photo. I've seen - and heard - similar metal-bodied instruments in person, and there wasn't a true whistle-type fipple arrangement as we usually understand it, but the cheater mouthpiece focused the air across a flute-like embouchure hole. Similar enough in principle, though, I suppose.

Tommy wrote:
There is a whistle maker in Maine “The Whistlesmith” that I have seen a side blown whistle. I have never seen his whistles or heard one.

They exist elsewhere, too. There's a modern flute development in Japanese Iwami Kagura Dance that utilizes some sort of fipple technology - fipples are otherwise not found in the usual canon of traditional Japanese winds - but either it's hidden away inside the flute body on this one in the pic, or a standard fipple is on the underside (I've seen some with an obvious fipple on top, in line with the finger holes):

Image

Note the position of the embouchure hole. You don't blow across it, but directly into it with both lips against the body, and some kind of fipplage creates the tone. No need to practice anything but the fingering. It's not a traditional woodwind for the usual sorts of Kagura - a regular transverse flute is the norm - but Iwami Kagura is less conservative, always innovating, and is especially all about great showmanship, so it's not too surprising that they'd make this concession in favor of good, reliable results minus the need to train the embouchure, and still conform to the appearance of a traditional sideblown flute. That way it's easier to have replacement players should the need arise, and because their particularly entertaining and lavishly-costumed style has become very popular outside its place of origin, troupes do travel to meet demand. If the show must go on, then it's a practical way to hedge your bets. If there's no external fipple underneath on this one, then it's an ingenious little contrivance, and I'd be very curious as to how the instrument is constructed.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:38 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
I assume you could just make a mouthpiece on a ring and and slide it over a hole in the top of a whistle tube. But what do I know! I suspect I'm not the only person who finds holding a low whistle comfortably challenging. I should just try those susato thumb rest thingies. Works for clarinet players


Yes a mouthpiece could be made to play a whistle from the side.
Yes i agree you should try thumb rest thingies first.

You do like the sound of your low whistle?
I can and would rather make you thumb rest thingies than to make a side blown whistle that may not sound like your low whistle.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:47 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Tommy wrote:
Mr Gumby’s picture looks some fifes I have seen with what they call a cheater mouthpiece.

That was my impression from the photo. I've seen - and heard - similar metal-bodied instruments in person, and there wasn't a true whistle-type fipple arrangement as we usually understand it, but the cheater mouthpiece focused the air across a flute-like embouchure hole. Similar enough in principle, though, I suppose.
[quote=}

Correct. With the cheater the ability to adjust a players embouchure is not available. It plays like a whistle in that the embouchure is fixed by the cheater.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 9:16 pm 
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I picked up some large sized silicone wedding bands on the cheap. They stretch over the whistle and make enough of a ridge rest on your thumb. So I don't end up having to grip as tightly. They are stretchy so they can be placed at a bit of an angle if your thumb wants to sit directly opposite a hole.

There was something similar I bought years ago on eBay (perhaps) made specifically for flutes. It was a silicone ring that went around the whole flute but had a wide back side that was wide enough to accept the whole thumb on a traverse flute. If you put it on a low whistle the bottom edge of that back made a great ledge. I have since lost the packaging and can't figure out what it was called, but it was sold as an aid to direct children to the correct thumb placement..

If you don't find that transverse low whistle you are hoping for, on of these ideas may be a help;


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:35 pm 
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Hi PB+J, I use a couple of those felt pads you stick underneath chair legs to stop your wooden floor getting scratched. Just place them under your low D wherever your thumbs rest. The felt pads can be easily moved, are cheap and come in all different shapes and sizes and can’t damage your whistle. I play an MK which I found a bit slippery and the felt pads give me all the stability I need. Cheers.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:10 am 
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Quote:
Mr Gumby’s picture looks some fifes I have seen with what they call a cheater mouthpiece.


It is. It was meant to illustrate a possible solution for a sideblown whistle. It's also not a low whistle. I don't think the 19th centuty had any whistles below G. I haven't seen them anyway.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:54 pm 
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I used to have a 'widget' that was a closed piece of PVC that fit snuggly over the end of the whistle but didn't extend to the window. A hole drilled in the side is the airway. It was an interesting gadget, but I eventually got used to holding the whistle off to one side, and piper's gripping.

Good luck!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:02 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Does anyone make a sideblown, transverse low whistle? I know I know, just play the flute, but I find the flute and the whistle to be two distinctive instruments, each with different capabilities.


Exhibit 19. Perfect side blown whistle for the flute player!

:D

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