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Beginner following some, but not all, advice
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Author:  Maddie [ Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Hello. I've been reading the archives here for a while, and it feels like I've only scratched the surface. So much helpful information — too much to absorb all at once. Maybe this thread will be a good place to ask questions instead of bumping old threads.

To tell you a bit about myself, I play four sizes of recorders, SATB. My good friend plays fingerstyle 6-string ukulele, and we've been getting together regularly for a couple of years. Lately we've been doing more Irish music. I realized I should be playing those tunes on tin whistle instead of recorder, and here I am.

I've followed some advice... After researching low D whistle, I decided to start on high D first. That's been a pleasant surprise. There's a lightness and joy with the high D, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm following along with the Ryan Duns videos, and I'm working through the Ochs book.

The advice I haven't followed is to learn by ear. After years of using sheet music, it's hard to play by ear. The Ochs mp3 files have been helpful, but giving up the sheets is a step I'm not willing to take yet.

My first question is about the fingering for the higher D note:
oxx xxx
or
xxx xxx
In his YouTube lessons, Ryan Duns usually shows a raised first finger. Is that the preferred fingering for a beginner to use? Or does it make more sense to choose the fingering based on surrounding notes? For example, use oxx xxx when coming from C-natural, and use xxx xxx when coming from B.

What's your advice? (I might actually follow it.)

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Always OXXXXX till you've got the experience to know when XXXXXX might be appropriate, and even then almost always OXXXXX.

Author:  Maddie [ Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Peter Duggan wrote:
Always OXXXXX till you've got the experience to know when XXXXXX might be appropriate, and even then almost always OXXXXX.


Thanks, Peter. That makes things easier, not having to evaluate which fingering to use.

Author:  tstermitz [ Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Quote:
Always OXXXXX till you've got the experience...


You know, I didn't know about OXX XXX when I first picked up a whistle in the 1970s, despite familiarity with the recorder thumb vent hole. And, all through the time I've played whistle and flute, I've never used that fingering.

Breath control, or, as they say, "YMMV".

TBH, my whistles were always the narrow-bore Generation style or Killarney, maybe that's why they didn't need the D-vent. My flutes never needed it either, and weirdly enough, it actually doesn't work well on my new, large-holed Gallagher. I guess it's possible that SOME instruments require it, so it might be better to start with that habit, but I have no idea if that is true.

I highly recommend Brother Steve's (AKA Stiamh) whistle tutorial, especially for someone coming from classical or recorder background. It is clear, complete, and yet concise. https://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/

Author:  Andro [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Most whistles and flutes require the top hole vented for D. The same is true on the Boehm flute. You can play D with all six fingers down, but you will hear a difference, and you will know when to use that fingering after experience. But whistles and wooden simple system flutes are not standardised and each one has it's own way it wants to be played. But the vented D is generally the one to start with on most instruments. On a flute, perhaps not so much on a whistle, the vented D is important - and though some people say the fingering is a mystery, it is not. The venting prevents unwanted harmonics and note cracking on D. And yes, the technical term for this is venting.

If you start looking at fingering charts for 19c simple system flutes, you will sometimes find four or five fingerings for many notes, each one with it's own tone colour and slight pitch shift. 19c flutists were aware of what were called sensitive notes, essentially leading notes, and there are fingerings that make them sound better. On the whistle there are several alternate fingerings for C, each of which has its use and place.

Andrew

Author:  Squeeky Elf [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Go with whichever sounds better on your particular whistle. It will probably be OXXXXX.

Author:  Maddie [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

tstermitz wrote:
I highly recommend Brother Steve's (AKA Stiamh) whistle tutorial, especially for someone coming from classical or recorder background. It is clear, complete, and yet concise. https://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/


Yes, that site comes highly recommended, and I've been reading it. My original question is discussed on this page, in the section on High D (second octave): https://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/notlifting.html

Brother Steve says "The fingerings I use have come from years of playing good old-fashioned inexpensive whistles of the Generation and Clarke variety." My whistle is a Dixon Alloy DX006D. I don't know whether his fingerings will work as well on that model. Since mine plays C-natural in tune with the oxxooo fingering, which he discusses lower on that page, it might be what he calls a new-fangled whistle.

That page is probably clear to someone with more experience, but as a beginner, I'm confused by some of it.

Author:  Maddie [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Andro wrote:
Most whistles and flutes require the top hole vented for D. The same is true on the Boehm flute. You can play D with all six fingers down, but you will hear a difference, and you will know when to use that fingering after experience. ...


Thanks, Andrew. I played flute years ago in school, and your comments make a lot of sense.

Squeeky Elf wrote:
Go with whichever sounds better on your particular whistle. It will probably be OXXXXX.


Well, that sounds like a good plan. I'll check both fingerings with a tuner, too.

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Maddie wrote:
about the fingering for the higher D note:

oxx xxx
or
xxx xxx

...does it make more sense to choose the fingering based on surrounding notes?


Yes it's about context.

BTW flute/whistle players often call it "middle D" while uilleann pipers call it "back D" due to the pipes having a thumb-hole for that note.

As opposed to "high D".

With the older fluteplayers/whistleplayers I saw when I started many used a fingering approach (not sure if it rises to the level of "fingering system") that was based around moving the minimum number of fingers required, in a given passage.

In this approach Middle D was generally played closed.

Another advantage of playing Middle D closed is that you're not ruling out the possibility of D sounding as Bottom D: you can play with octaves.

Author:  Chiffed [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

I think you’ve got a bunch of useful answers, but I’ll toss my 2p.

It’s not all or nothing. Yes, I can get away with closed fingerings on some tooters on some passages, but I’ll partially vent quite a bit on airs. Since you brought it up, I caught myself whisper venting the e (oxx xoo) for tuning on gentler passages.

Check out the size of the vent on a soprano sax... it’s gotta be 1/32! Yes, it’s a poor analogy, but hey.

Author:  Maddie [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

pancelticpiper wrote:
Yes it's about context.
...
With the older fluteplayers/whistleplayers I saw when I started many used a fingering approach (not sure if it rises to the level of "fingering system") that was based around moving the minimum number of fingers required, in a given passage.

In this approach Middle D was generally played closed. ...


Hi, Richard — It's good to know the correct term for that middle D. Thanks for the info on context. I've tried the exercise on Brother Steve's page, switching back and forth between B and D. It's remarkably easier with the xxx xxx fingering, as you point out.

I also tested the two middle D fingerings against a tuner. With my whistle, they are both equally in tune, and xxx xxx does not require any different breath pressure from oxx xxx. The quality of the tone is very close, with little to differentiate them. I can make more of a difference with how I blow the notes, rather than which fingering is used.

Author:  Maddie [ Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Chiffed wrote:
...
It’s not all or nothing. Yes, I can get away with closed fingerings on some tooters on some passages, but I’ll partially vent quite a bit on airs. Since you brought it up, I caught myself whisper venting the e (oxx xoo) for tuning on gentler passages. ...


Whoa! Totally new concept. I haven't seen the term "whisper venting" before. Are you saying that there is a third fingering option for middle D, by leaking the top hole?
ØXX XXX

Author:  pancelticpiper [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Maddie wrote:
switching back and forth between B and D (is) remarkably easier with the xxx xxx fingering...


Be aware that it's not just those notes, but an approach/system that affects the overall fingering on whistle and flute.

I never heard anybody talk about it so I get the impression it's a performance practice the people picked up as they learned, rather than something that was specifically and consciously taught.

By moving pairs of fingers as a single element the number of different elements in motion is reduced by half.

So the B-D thing is part of a fingering construct that involves keeping U1 and L3 on the whistle and moving U2 and U3 as one element and L1 and L2 as another element, thus:

xxx xxx D
xxx oox G
xoo oox B
xxx xxx d
xxx oox g
xoo oox b

in other words the members of a G Major chord.

The added clarity and facility this affords can be shown in innumerable tune-phrases, for example the beginning of the reel Sally Gardens:
4/4
G2DG BDGB

Yes you'll depart from the note-groups for other notes like E and A, but there's a vast number of phrases that are based around this pattern.

The other fingering construct is based around leaving U1, U2, and L1 on the whistle and moving U3 as one element and L2 and L3 as the second element:

xxx xxx D
xxx xoo F#
xxo xoo A
xxx xxx d
xxx xoo f#
xxo xoo a

in other words the members of a D Major chord. (On many old flutes the note A is sharp and benefits having L1 down.)

To see this in action, with the addition of lifting U2 for B, but leaving U1 and L1 (both index fingers) down the entire time, play the opening phrase of The Mountain Road:

4/4 (all F's are F#)
F2AF BFAF
F2AF EFDE
F2AF BFAF

Once again there are practically endless phrases based on this pattern.

This fingering approach works brilliantly on traditional small-bore high whistles and on vintage flutes. Everything changed with the advent of neo-Irish whistles and neo-Irish flutes and especially with Low Whistles. There's something different about the bore and/or voicing of most Low D whistles that makes B in the 2nd octave not speak well if L3 is left down. I've had to change my fingering to a Boehm-like open system when playing in higher part of the 2nd octave on Low Whistles.

Keep in mind that this isn't a full theoretical fingering system but the byproduct of generations of players utilizing "economy of motion" to make complicated tunes far easier to play.

Here it is in action: note L3 left down for certain phrases involving GBD (in whatever order)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdJYbOkbetQ

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Quote:
switching back and forth between B and D (is) remarkably easier with the xxx xxx fingering...


This is really in the eye of the beholder. I have always vented my second d' in most circumstances (though not all) and testing out what you just said, alternating d' unvented and B, I have to make a concerted effort and I must say it's not at all easier to do.

Whatever your not used doing, will be harder.

Author:  Peter Duggan [ Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner following some, but not all, advice

Peter Duggan wrote:
Always OXXXXX till you've got the experience to know when XXXXXX might be appropriate, and even then almost always OXXXXX.

The only time I can think of offhand when I intentionally use XXXXXX is if I want to do some pseudo-roll or crann on the D and keep all the notes in the second octave*. But I didn't say so because that's not beginner stuff and I wanted to give an answer appropriate to a beginner question!

*On which note sometimes I do (want to keep them all in the second octave) and sometimes I don't.

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