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 Post subject: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:22 pm 
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I am just getting started in the world of tin whistles and I have a question about transitioning from a D whistle to a C whistle. (I have purchased both since they are so inexpensive.) I have a music background (band instruments) so I read music.

I understand that both D and C whistles actually play in the key of C, but that their tonic note is either D or C. So, a D whistle, with all holes covered plays a "D" whereas the C whistle plays a "C". Thus, the fingering for the same notes on the scale is different for each of the whistles.

That would mean that if I want to play along with a piano, I have to learn two different sets of fingering, as I understand it. Since the D scale seems to be the most common for whistle music, I will learn that first.

Now here is my question: If I learn an Irish tune, such as a reel or jig on the D whistle, can I use the same sequence of fingering on a C whistle and have the tune sound the same, only at a slightly different pitch.

I am guessing that this would work -- as long as I am not trying to play the same tune with someone else on a D whistle -- as it appears to me that the step interval between each successive hole on the whistle (whole step or half-step) is the same whether it is a D or a C whistle. If it doesn't work that way, then it seems one would have to learn each tune with a different pattern of fingering -- which would take a lot of brain cells! :D

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:59 pm 
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Yes, if you play the same fingering of a D whistle song on a C whistle you will get the same song just in a different key. This works because its the same music intervals, just shifted up or down. The same goes for chords or any other musical thing. So by the song being in a different key, if you were playing with others or with music you need that to be in the same key you are playing in.

Its possible to play your C whistle in other keys but its only really easy to play in 1 other key per whistle. Which is the one who's note you get by covering the 2 holes after the first, making your 7th note of the scale flat, or a semitone lower. So in english, For C its F, for D its G. A can play in D by doing this. A can play in D because its only off by one note, which is the easiest note to cross finger on the whistle (for most at least). So playing in other keys can be harder when the cross fingering is harder than just changing that one easy note.

I actually have this printed on my desk, is super useful. The notes in your key are the same as the chords, just remove the Minors and Dim's. You can see how A easily becomes D and stuff. Lots of intervals and patterns if you look into it. https://i.pinimg.com/originals/df/09/ce ... ba558a.jpg

Also a thing to keep in mind is if playing on a diff whistle transposed might not be able to go low or high enough. Like you can use a A whistle and play in D as a low D with less low range. But you may not be able to hit the lower notes, etc. So it depends on the song.

But that's why you can always just play the song with the normal fingering as its native key like the first thing I mentioned. Is way easier.

Hopefully some of this makes sense and is helpful lol. But I'm kidna just confirming what you already thought :)


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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:05 am 
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I am just a beginner too, but.....

If a tune plays in D on a D whistle then the same fingerings will play in C on a C whistle, and in A on an A whistle. Once you have a complete set of whistles then all you need to know is which to pick up.....

I think that there are four easy-ish keys on a whistle (at least for me). Two of them require half-holing or cross fingering to get a C natural on a D whistle. On a D whistle there would be D, major G major, E minor and B minor. The terms major and minor might be slightly misleading - I think that people round here like talking about modes instead but that stuff never seems to stick to my ageing grey matter.

(C natural on a D whistle is such a common addition to the scale that whistlers expect to be able to get a good one, and whistle makers design their products to make it available)

There are some other keys that are 'almost' available if you are happy missing notes or doing crossed-fingerings, but these seem to be much more whistle dependent.

Hope that fills in a little..... wait a while and a real expert will be along to fill in even more (and correct anything that I got wrong;-)

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:25 am 
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Whistles are transposing instruments, playing the same holes converts it to the key of the whistle.

To get notes that are not available on a whistle you can half hole or cross finger them.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:03 am 
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LenC wrote:
I have a music background (band instruments) so I read music.

I understand that both D and C whistles actually play in the key of C, but that their tonic note is either D or C.

In terms of band or orchestral instruments, a D whistle would be described as a whistle in C because what you play is what you get (albeit an octave up for a standard high whistle) and a C whistle would be described as a Bb instrument because it sounds a tone lower with the standard fingerings. This unfortunate confusion comes from whistles being named for their six-finger note and band/orchestral instruments for the note you hear when you finger C.

I wouldn't describe sounding in C (i.e. playing a C sounds a C) in band/orchestral terms as playing in the key of C; while you can play in the key of C on a D whistle, it's a little bit awkward.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:11 am 
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LenC wrote:
I am just getting started in the world of tin whistles...I have a music background (band instruments) so I read music.


Good! We speak the same language then. Many Irish trad players and Highland pipers don't speak the language of ordinary orchestral/band instruments, which makes discussions prone to misunderstandings.

So to clear things up, in Irish trad woodwind instruments, that is, whistle, flute, and uilleann pipes, instruments said to be "in D" are the Concert Pitch non-transposing instruments.

Knowing this is the key to everything.

So, an Irish flute, Irish whistle, or uilleann pipe chanter in D plays the same notes with more or less the same fingerings as an orchestral C flute, oboe, C melody sax, or G clarinet (they have them, they're big).

Like this:

xxx xxx D
xxx xxo E
xxx ooo G
xxo ooo A
xoo ooo B


All keys of Irish flutes, whistles, and uilleann pipe chanters other than D are transposing instruments.

So, an Irish C whistle or C uilleann pipe chanter is what would be called a Bb instrument in orchestral terms: the sounding note is a full tone lower than the written note.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:07 pm 
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Short answer:

Yes.

Many of us have whistles in a number of different keys. We will use them with the same fingerings we would use on a D whistle to transpose to different keys.

If I want to play along with a singer whose voice demands an Eb, Bb, F or C, playing in those keys on a D whistle would be nigh impossible without doing a lot of half holing and octave jumping (which could work or sound awful, depending). So whistles in other keys make things simpler.

If playing along with a pianist I'd figure out what key they were playing in before I picked my whistle. Then I'd either get to read the music line or follow along by ear since I am better at that than sight reading and transposing at the same time.

If I play alone at home I sometimes play the C, A or Bb whistle to enjoy the lower notes. But again, I keep the fingering.


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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 5:46 pm 
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Yes when I was doing a load of studio and church gigs I had whistles in every key in my roll:

D
Eb
E
F
F#/Gb
G
G#/Ab
A
Bb
B
C
C#/Db


(Some keys such as C, D, and Eb I had in two octaves.)

Of course you don't need every key whistle to play in every Major key, because each size whistle is at home in two Major keys.

But having all those gave me the flexibility to place each piece in two different ranges.

For example you can play tunes in D on an A whistle, the latter giving you A B C# below the bottom note of the D whistle.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:46 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
In terms of band or orchestral instruments, a D whistle would be described as a whistle in C because what you play is what you get (albeit an octave up for a standard high whistle) and a C whistle would be described as a Bb instrument because it sounds a tone lower with the standard fingerings. This unfortunate confusion comes from whistles being named for their six-finger note and band/orchestral instruments for the note you hear when you finger C.

I wouldn't describe sounding in C (i.e. playing a C sounds a C) in band/orchestral terms as playing in the key of C; while you can play in the key of C on a D whistle, it's a little bit awkward.

Me thinks there is some confusion here! In band or orchestral instruments, the key of the instrument is the actual tone that is played when the instrument is using the fingering for "C" on that instrument. Thus, on a trumpet the fingering for "C" is no valves depressed. That fingering renders the same tone as B-flat on the piano, therefore it is a B-flat instrument.

That is not the same situation for tin whistles, at least as I understand it at present. On a D whistle, the fingering for a "D" tone is all holes covered. The tone that is thus produced is also "D" on the piano -- therefore with respect to how band/orchestral instruments are designated it is in the key of C. Likewise for a C whistle, the fingering for a "C" tone is also made with all holes covered and the tone that is thus produced is the same as "C" on the piano -- therefore with respect to how band/orchestral are designated, the C whistle is also in the key of C.

The difference would come if you play a C whistle using the D fingering. I.E., you see a "G" on the musical staff and cover the top three holes like you would on a D whistle. The resulting tone played would actually be an "F". But if you used the fingering for "G" on a C whistle (top two holes covered), the resulting tone would be "G".

So, I guess that opens a new question for me. When you have many whistles in different "ranges"**, do you learn the specific fingering for each "range", or do you just use the D fingering and transpose the notes you read on the musical score?

**I hesitate to use the term "tuning" because that is the term applied to band/orchestral instruments so I used "range" instead.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:21 pm 
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LenC wrote:
So, I guess that opens a new question for me. When you have many whistles in different "ranges"**, do you learn the specific fingering for each "range", or do you just use the D fingering and transpose the notes you read on the musical score?


The short answer is "All of the Above." You can do either of those. Most people who play in whistle will do the latter, playing as if on a D whistle no matter what their whistle actually is. A lot of Irish trad players, for example, will vary things up and play an Eb whistle, or a Bb, or a low F, but will keep all of the same fingerings. You can hear that in action in Mary Bergin's classic Feadóga Stáin album. Many people also mostly or entirely play by ear, so the relative pitches are all that really matter to them.

I will say, though, that if you know how to read music and have even a bit of music theory knowledge, it isn't too difficult to be able to also learn the fingerings for each whistle. That way you could, say, read a melody in A off a page and play it in A on a D, E, or A whistle. Transposition is a great workout for your brain, fingers, eyes, and ears.


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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:13 am 
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LenC wrote:
That is not the same situation for tin whistles, at least as I understand it at present. On a D whistle, the fingering for a "D" tone is all holes covered.
I guess Peter will be back to clarify, but I think for whistles the orchestral comparisons are flute/piccolo/recorder where for a 'C instrument' 6 fingers down is D.


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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:09 am 
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LenC wrote:
Me thinks there is some confusion here!

I'm not confused at all.

Quote:
The difference would come if you play a C whistle using the D fingering. I.E., you see a "G" on the musical staff and cover the top three holes like you would on a D whistle. The resulting tone played would actually be an "F".

That's right. Hence a C whistle being a Bb instrument in band/orchestral terms because the 'D fingering' is standard.

Quote:
But if you used the fingering for "G" on a C whistle (top two holes covered), the resulting tone would be "G".

But people (at least most people) don't. Whistles are basically transposing instruments with a naming system that's a tone out from band/orchestral practice.

bigsciota wrote:
I will say, though, that if you know how to read music and have even a bit of music theory knowledge, it isn't too difficult to be able to also learn the fingerings for each whistle. That way you could, say, read a melody in A off a page and play it in A on a D, E, or A whistle. Transposition is a great workout for your brain, fingers, eyes, and ears.

Yes, absolutely. Just like you can on any transposing instrument. But I'd say there's use of ears at work there too.

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 Post subject: Re: From D to C Question
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:16 am 
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No confusion, it's just that different music traditions use different ways of reckoning what to call the various sizes of instruments.

So sax, Boehm flute, Irish whistle, Irish flute, and uilleann pipes all write the same note as "C"

I can't do a proper fingering chart on the computer keyboard but on instruments capable of going a full tone below the "six finger note"

xxx xxx|x

or in crossfingering

oxx ooo

if that note is C it's called a "C instrument" in orchestral/band terms, and a "D instrument" in Irish woodwind terms.

It's different with Clarinet, their C is

xxx ooo

and if that note is C it's a "C instrument".

Perhaps a simpler way to think of it is that Sax and Boehm flute are named from their seven-finger note, Irish woodwinds by their six-finger note, and clarinet by its three-finger note.

An odd one for me to get used to was the way the various pitches of Bulgarian bagpipe chanters are named.

They call them by their seven-finger-note but the drone is pitched to the three-finger-note. So a "D" Bulgarian chanter has a drone note and tonal centre of A. :-?

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