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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:58 pm 
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I haven't seen the chiff discussions. To me "chiff" means air flow heard that isn't being converted to musical tone, yet is heard at a very minor level and acceptable as part of the tone of the instrument when it's being played properly. No whistle reaches 100% in converting all molecules of air flow into musical tone, and the better-designed instruments have chiff that assists in the quality of tone, rather than subtracting from it.

I consider "scratchy" to be when the instrument is failing, the note is breaking apart or isn't arriving well. That can be due to over-blowing or under-blowing a particular note. It can also be because the instrument isn't designed well enough or has a mechanical fault. So if the player has practiced on that instrument and knows how to best create the tone with adequate air pressure for a particular note, and the instrument is clean (doesn't have any insects inside it or shards of sandwich or oatmeal around the window area), and it still sounds scratchy, vs having some chiff, then the whistle is crap and either needs cleaning, surgical adjusting, to be returned for a refund, or converted into a rain spout lawn sprinkler. Best of luck with the el-cheapo whistles that work great as lawn sprinklers!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:50 pm 
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I know you said metal, but I want to at least put in a plug for some non-metal options. I can't hear a lot of difference between my better quality non-metals and my brass or aluminum ones---and the non-metals will be very durable and resistant to environmental issues.

My Carbony doesn't seem particularly chiffy to me---compared to my Clarke Sweetone (my first whistle) which is so chiffy it annoys me. I prefer purer sounding whistles though clearly there are some who feel that gets away from the traditional whistle sound.

The Carbony has a lifetime guaranty and, being made of carbon fibre, ebonite, and anodized aluminum, should be pretty impervious to environmental factors. They are pretty pricey, though people are also suggesting Burkes and Oz whistles that are on the more expensive end of the scale.

On the less expensive side of things, I recently got a Hoover phenolic resin and really like it. Very little chiff in my opinion and, with no metal, should also be pretty durable.

Becker whistles are also worth a look. A bit more chiffy to my ear, but not problematically so, and made of very durable PVC pipe and very inexpensive.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:13 am 
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Seems like different people have a different take on just exactly what 'chiff' is.....

Some think it's the breathiness, some the attack....

Is there no clear definition as to what it is regarding a whistle(?).

Quote:
: the initial sound made by air leaving the mouth of a wind instrument (such as an organ flue pipe or a flute) at the attack (see attack entry 2 sense 5) of a note The chiff is a sudden, short-lived burst of upper harmonics that occurs whenever an organ key is depressed and a note is sounded.—


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chiff

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:33 pm 
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There may be two camps involved here that may be one in the musical sense. Seems to me that whether the non-musical wind sound shows up in the initial attack or the ongoing sound, does it really matter? To me the musician, playing for fun or into a microphone with sharp ears (rather than to a room of Webster's employees who have their own priorities), I will hear it all and I want to know how the instrument plays; I don't want extra wind sounds going on that don't contribute admirably to the tone of the instrument. So whether it's called chiff or Leprechaun Fawning or Microphone Coprolite or breathiness or noise lichen or Irish mist or Lord Arthur's Lust or Dragon's Ardor or St. Elmo's Fire or O'Carolan's Bean Salad or Taxi Cab Banter or Magnesium Scratchite or Brass Ass Disease or Ear Plug Ebola or Entropic Dissonance or Firestone Deathtreads or EQ Maggoo or Wind In The Trees or Secret Mystic Elf Messages or Tyrannosaurus Chiffex or Winter White Noise or Accordion Wheeze or Pneumonia Tone or Stormin' Organ or Wurlitzer Public Pressure or Sweet Nessie's Methane, I'm OK with that, as long as I don't get it from my whistle. To the session!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:55 pm 
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As far as I know "chiff" and "chiffy" are pipe organ terms and concepts.

I'd never heard these terms applied to whistles (which I've played since the mid-1970s) until I joined this site.

Here is what this organist considers a "chiffy" organ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWWj08IbPpw&t=216s

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:19 pm 
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So, as Sedi said earlier, despite what chiffy means in connection with other instruments, I have always assumed it meant "breathy" which we have all heard listening to both live and recorded whistle tunes. Personally, I like both breathy and not-so-breathy whistles. The Burke is the least "chiffy-breathy" whistle I have played. There are others. My favorite collection, the Freemans, are on the clear, less chiffy/breathy side, but still breathier than the Burke. However, I recall Richard once referring to some whistles having a "dirty" sound, and this too, made sense, but when I read his reference to a sound being "dirty" I equated it to my definition of breathy. I think he was referring to two Killarneys he had. While the Killarney is not a chiffy whistle by design, some are chiffier, breathier, dirtier than one another.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:54 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
Here is what this organist considers a "chiffy" organ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWWj08IbPpw&t=216s


An interesting exchange in the comments:

YouTube Comments wrote:

Hugh Drogemuller: Nothing chiffy to my ear about this .

OrganHunters: I know Chiff can mean different things. What does Chiff sound like for you?

Hugh Drogemuller: Chiff is when the initial speech of a pipe is unstable . Usually after about a second it will settle down to the intended pitch.

caseyflorida: Definitely chiffy to my ear. I could hear chiff in all the 8' stops.


Hugh's definition of chiff, though different, still deals with the attack phase of the sound.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:32 pm 
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Leprechan Fawning! I Love it!

My problem is not that chiff actually means something specific and different in the real world. Chiff doesn't seem to have a specific standard meaning even here, which it makes communication harder, not easier.

Regarding scratchiness. I mentioned that because traditional Generations are not pure in tone (unless tweaked), and they have a little scratchy edge to the notes. I find that quality pleasant, and it something I prefer over whistles with a clean, resonant non-"scratchy" quality. I like my Killarney because it retains a little of the scratchy Generation sound.

Notice that even if I use a non-standard word like "scratchy", I reference a source which many people might have experience with.

I don't have any references for breathy or chiffy, so I remain confused.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:06 am 
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Yes all these aural things are hard to put into language that has universally agreed-upon meaning.

Yes organ chiff, seems to me, is a thing with the attack where there's a slight delay in the pipe speaking and when it does speak there's an initial "chiff" of sound created from higher harmonics. I don't know that I've ever heard a whistle do that, if so it wouldn't be a whistle I'd want to play. To do Irish cuts and pats crisply you need an immediate clean attack.

About sustained tone, it's usually called timbre.

According to the presence or lack of presence of higher harmonics timbre will be somewhere along this continuum:

dark/dull/tubby/throaty/hollow > > > > > > > > bright/ringing/nasal/buzzy

(Note that some of the terms are pejorative, some ameliorative.)

According to how focused the tone is, it will somewhere along this continuum:

unfocused/breathy > > > > > > > focused/clean/pure

The curious thing to me is how the tone of the MK is dirty/gravelly yet has a strong focused core. The MK is very air-efficient which tells me that it's focused (an unfocused airstream wastes air) so what is the "dirty" element?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:56 am 
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A whistle can have some breathiness but still be air-efficient. As far as my own experiments go and what I have read -- it is mainly determined by the geometry of the labium and the window length. Longer window means more "breathiness"/air noise but at the same time to a certain degree higher backpressure (if the window is too long the whistle won't sound at all. Been there, done that. Placing the fipple block and windway cover at the exact right spot to achieve the desired playing characteristics is always the most tricky part when making a whistle). So that leads to the paradoxical situation that a breathy whistle can have a high backpressure and little air consumption. While a very clean sounding whistle can still be an "air hog". I had a closer look at my MK and it has a really sharp labium. That adds breathiness to the sound. A slightly dulled labium makes the sound less "airy"/breathy. A whistle with a shorter window and steeper angle of the labium tends to have a cleaner sound, less backpressure and easier 2nd octave.
So I suspect the sound of the MK is purely a result of the window/windway/labium geometry.


Last edited by Sedi on Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 1:15 pm 
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Sedi wrote:
A whistle with a shorter window and steeper angle of the labium tends to have a cleaner sound, less backpressure and easier 2nd octave.
So I suspect the sound of the MK is purely a result of the window/windway/labium geometry.


I've noticed many least expensive whistles have quite a low angle at the labium. Sometimes it's just an edge and there's little angle/slope provided. They often have a lot of breathiness in the sound, have a difficult time in the upper second octave and are often a catastrophe with the third. I've been curious about altering an old cheapy whistle I have and I think the first thing I'd do is attach a steeper and longer slope to the top of the labium without changing the diameter of the window. I've been considering using a metal blade from a box cutter tool, but now I think I'd use something less sharp.


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