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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 3:40 am 
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I've found that most of the five dollar whistles sound like five dollar whistles: screechy, wildly imbalanced in air requirements, and usually so out of tune to put anyone off listening to them.


I thought the forum had by now outgrown that sort of silly blanket statements. It's a statement made in denial of the very fine music played on these whistles and the opinion held by many whistleplayers that for ease of playing and tone you still have to look at Generation (type) whistles. But, to get a reasonable appreciation of what these whistles offer, you need to be able to play. They are the quintessential simple, cheap and accessible instrument, well able for great music.

The argument that a fine player can make music on a sub par instrument that is always trotted out in this sort of discussions, doesn't fly. It does not make sense, it bears no scrutiny. Good musicians are pragmatic, they will play what is best for the job. They will not get up on stage with an instrument that works against them. Musicians who use cheap whistles don't do it out of some sense of masochism. They do it because the cheap whistle is handy and does what it should do with ease and agility.

I said earlier on this thread, there's horses for courses and for Irish music, the Generation type cheap whistles, mass produced whistles with injection moulded heads, haven't gone away by a long shot. They exist comfortably alongside some newer designs, that often enough try to reproduce the aesthetic set by the cheap whistles, but at a price.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:51 am 
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arthury wrote:

across both octaves...


First I wanted to address that aspect.

In general, whistles have more character/colour to the timbre in the low octave and tend to loose character/colour in the 2nd octave.

I have much more experience testing the performance aspects of Low Ds, and it seems to me that Low Ds amplify the various quirks present in High Ds. In Low Ds, you can have several whistles with distinctly different-sounding low octaves that have nearly identical 2nd octaves.

The 2nd octaves tend to be rather colourless.

Low Ds that stood out for retaining colour in the 2nd octave were the Susato (perhaps due to the thick walls) and the MK (due to an overall dirtier tone).

arthury wrote:

deliciously mellow in 1st octave


This strikes me as impossibly subjective.

Trying to discuss timbre/tone-colour in an objective and universally understood way is next to impossible, but I will point out some aspects which we can regard as independent of each other:

1) There's a continuum which might be expressed

bright/ringing/nasal/buzzy >>>>> round/smooth/tubby/hollow/dull

(Note that some words are pejorative, some ameliorative. Let's think of them as neutral, for now.)

2) There's a continuum which might be expressed

clean/pure/bland/plain >>>>> rich/complex/dirty/gravelly

3) There's volume.

arthury wrote:

2.no fraying in second octave (solid)
3. 2nd octave needs to have crisp endings in the higher frequency notes (not roundish) - high clarity


I don't know what is meant by these things.

I will say that you asked about the best sounding whistle which is an entirely different matter of the best performing whistle.

For me, performance is far more important that timbre.

I define good performance as

1) round full low octave
2) sweet easy 2nd octave
3) nimble action/response between octaves
4) superior air-efficiency
5) and above all, great tuning.

Here I am demonstrating my whistles in various keys, all of them great-playing instruments and some of them costing around $5 when I bought them!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-fQhvleWq8&t=31s

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:02 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I had a Harper at one point and I have rarely hated a whistle as much. It was very very loud and the second octave was unbearably earsplitting loud. It was also stiff and just unpleasant to play...

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Over the last 40 years I've tried quite a few High D whistles made in that Overton machined-alloy style (by several different makers) and all of them have played exactly as you describe. They don't interest me in the least.

However that style is superb for Low Whistles.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:13 am 
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psoutowood wrote:
any whistle can be world class if the player is world class.


I missed where that was said. It's preposterous of course. If a whistle has a squawky squeaky 2nd octave no player can make it sound pure.

Great players usually have great instruments. It's their livelihood and they can't be bothered with substandard tools.

It's not only the instrument itself, it's also how it's set up.

So when I started playing everybody was playing Generation Ds, the only Ds around. The Generation Ds in the hands of the good players were exceptional instruments. Many if not most had been modified to a greater or lesser extent by the players. Some were unmodified, but represented the very best instrument the player had tried, out of hundreds they had tried over the years.

After trying every make of High Whistle I've encountered over the years I've continued to play my vintage Generations, which have yet to be bested.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:22 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
arthury wrote:

across both octaves...


First I wanted to address that aspect.

In general, whistles have more character/colour to the timbre in the low octave and tend to loose character/colour in the 2nd octave.

I have much more experience testing the performance aspects of Low Ds, and it seems to me that Low Ds amplify the various quirks present in High Ds. In Low Ds, you can have several whistles with distinctly different-sounding low octaves that have nearly identical 2nd octaves.

The 2nd octaves tend to be rather colourless.

Low Ds that stood out for retaining colour in the 2nd octave were the Susato (perhaps due to the thick walls) and the MK (due to an overall dirtier tone).

arthury wrote:

deliciously mellow in 1st octave


This strikes me as impossibly subjective.

Trying to discuss timbre/tone-colour in an objective and universally understood way is next to impossible, but I will point out some aspects which we can regard as independent of each other:

1) There's a continuum which might be expressed

bright/ringing/nasal/buzzy >>>>> round/smooth/tubby/hollow/dull

(Note that some words are pejorative, some ameliorative. Let's think of them as neutral, for now.)

2) There's a continuum which might be expressed

clean/pure/bland/plain >>>>> rich/complex/dirty/gravelly

3) There's volume.

arthury wrote:

2.no fraying in second octave (solid)
3. 2nd octave needs to have crisp endings in the higher frequency notes (not roundish) - high clarity


I don't know what is meant by these things.

I will say that you asked about the best sounding whistle which is an entirely different matter of the best performing whistle.

For me, performance is far more important that timbre.

I define good performance as

1) round full low octave
2) sweet easy 2nd octave
3) nimble action/response between octaves
4) superior air-efficiency
5) and above all, great tuning.

Here I am demonstrating my whistles in various keys, all of them great-playing instruments and some of them costing around $5 when I bought them!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-fQhvleWq8&t=31s


Great additions to properly evaluating the whistles. The video is educational. Thumbs up for that.

Pardon me for the newbie question: what does timbre mean for whistle?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:50 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
psoutowood wrote:

[...]
After trying every make of High Whistle I've encountered over the years I've continued to play my vintage Generations, which have yet to be bested.


I've ordered a Freeman Tweaked high C. Most of the Freeman Tweaked looked like they originated from Generations/Waltons. I'll see how it suits my taste.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:16 am 
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I think I've come to the conclusion that Chieftain high D whistles, in their 1st octave, sounded more like a high flute than whistle.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:27 am 
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Spent most of last night listening to Eugene Lambe. He alternated between a Killarney (or Sindt?) and a Generation and to be honest, there was no noticeable difference. Lovely tunes though, North Clare with more than a hint of Micho and the other old fellas.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:47 am 
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The Overton really shines here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y3vmS1ob6w&t=1m

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:52 am 
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arthury wrote:
pancelticpiper wrote:
psoutowood wrote:

[...]
After trying every make of High Whistle I've encountered over the years I've continued to play my vintage Generations, which have yet to be bested.


I've ordered a Freeman Tweaked high C. Most of the Freeman Tweaked looked like they originated from Generations/Waltons. I'll see how it suits my taste.


The Freeman C is my favorite C.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:52 am 
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The Overton really shines here


So we're done talking about high whistles?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:36 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Spent most of last night listening to Eugene Lambe. He alternated between a Killarney (or Sindt?) and a Generation and to be honest, there was no noticeable difference.


Which pretty much proves that it's the player & not so much the whistle.... :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:20 pm 
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Which pretty much proves that it's the player & not so much the whistle...


Who is driving is obviously decisive but only when the whistles involved share largely similar characteristics.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:32 pm 
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arthury wrote:
what does timbre mean for whistle?


Timbre means the tone-colour independent of volume or other factors.

In the main it's the presence (to greater or lesser degrees) of specific harmonics.

It's the varying of the harmonics that allows us to distinguish different sorts of sounds, different musical instruments, one person's voice from another.

Then there's "dirt" in the tone, which I'm guessing would be noise rather than harmonics.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:26 pm 
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Thank you, Richard.


On a separate thought ...

Commodity production style
I know this is probably a controversial subject here in this forum but bear with me, I mean no ill intention, just a voice from the sea of consumers.

It's quite difficult to believe that we, in the 21st Century, produce hardly any whistle-maker out there who can consistently produce whistles that are like a commodity production item; i.e. close to no variation if they are of the same model.

I'd think that the metal ones can be CNC machined to 3 digits after the decimal point, if not more precisely cut. Testing can be even done with pressured air and a battery of standard tests can be applied by hooking it to an audio-testing device and statistics collected. I guess the market is not large enough for such a company.

Yes, yes, artisan style production is more favorable and artistic in nature but frustrating to the consumer, who is looking for a product that is consistently manufactured.

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