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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 1:36 pm 
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Just curious as to what everyone who plays at sessions here trots out the most. Anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot of Sindts and Killarneys at sessions on both sides of the Atlantic, with a fair few Susatos and Dixons in Ireland (both being fairly prevalent in music shops) and Burkes in the States. Obviously these are sweeping generalizations, and I’ve seen plenty of whistles of all sorts in the hands of players.

I’ll go first and say that a Killarney D and Eb both sit in my flute case. I almost never go into a session with just a whistle, but I’ll pick one of those Killarneys up for a set as a change of pace from the flute every so often. I also have a Chieftain D that has been played a couple times at sessions, although I find it overpowering for anything but a big noisy group with banjos and accordions, and mostly use it for busking. The Killarneys, in the other hand, are fairly easily drowned out, especially in the 1st octave, although they can often be heard better by others than myself (funny how acoustics work!).

Also, I’d love to know peoples’ thought processes behind their choice. Why is your session whistle(s) the one(s) you use at a session? Is it all about volume for you? Strong 1st octave? Tone that plays nicely with others? Not in any way looking for recommendations, just wanting to take a bit of a survey and start a discussion!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:26 pm 
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I got my first Sindt during the early naughties, 2002 or thereabout. I was playing every Sundaynight for the sets , at the time the Sindt was the go to whistle for that and it was the playing out whistle for me for more than a decade. At some point people were paying such silly prices for the Sindts that I sometimes felt the whistle attracted greedy looks and I started feeling I couldn't leave it unattended and had to look after it all the time. When the Killarney first arrived it became the rough and ready, and (then) not very expensive alternative.

I am not concerned much with volume, both Sindt and Killarney are just about as loud as I would want them, even if the noise gets such that I can't hear myself the whistle can still be heard by most other people across the room. And if the sound gets completely lost I really have no business being there. 'Cutting through' is not on my mind, both whistles blend well into the overall sound of any group and that's what I want from them.

I have gone off playing out since and between lockdowns and everything else opportunities have disappeared anyway.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 4:47 pm 
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I'm perhaps something of an outlier in that my go-to is always a Low D.

When I first gave up flute and went to Low D (in 2006) it was a Burke. Then for a few years it was an MK. Now it's a Goldie.

For one thing I'm used to playing in flute range, so the Low D sounds right to me. With Low D I'm there with the fiddles and flutes and all.

The second consideration is that there's a regular who always plays High D whistle, and one of those is enough.

When I do use a High D (rarely, and only when the High D person isn't there) it's my old Feadog Mk1 or a Killarney. Both are rather quiet, which is how I like it. I don't want a loud blasting thing.

About the thought processes behind the choices, for both High and Low Ds the primary thing for me is perfect tuning.

Next, with the Low D it's air efficiency. Though for me it's not as important in reels and jigs as it is in playing airs.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:18 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
Just curious as to what everyone who plays at sessions here trots out the most.


I don't play in sessions very often, but when I do, it's my Generation D.

bigsciota wrote:
Why is your session whistle(s) the one(s) you use at a session?


I've never found another one I like better, and I'm used to it, i.e. it does what I want.

bigsciota wrote:
Is it all about volume for you? Strong 1st octave? Tone that plays nicely with others? Not in any way looking for recommendations, just wanting to take a bit of a survey and start a discussion!


Not about volume for me; I don't want to stand out that way.

The octaves are well-balanced and easy. I do like the tone of my vintage (1976) one; other session players have said they do also.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:30 pm 
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The Sindt whistle is the go to whistle for many folks around here and kind of local to the area so everyone has one. Yes, I do play the Sindt often, however, I've preferred wooden whistles all along so I also play a rosewood high D made by Ralph Sweet (RIP) and also a blackwood high D made by Joseph Morneaux who apprenticed with RS and now owns the shop which is called Musique Morneaux. These whistles are also local to the area so there are a few around among the players.

http://musiquemorneaux.com/

I like the tone and feel of the wood whistles and the loudness is enough to be heard among the larger sessions. Wood whistles are a bit wider so easier to handle. The wood takes some time to warm up, but when it does... it sings!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 4:28 pm 
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It's funny, this is confirming a bias on my part against some of the prevailing wisdom that I've read and heard about "session" whistles being loud whistles. You'll even find a lot of makers using that terminology for a wider-bore version of their D whistles. I can definitely understand the impulse, having had the experience of not being able to hear myself. But playability and tone beat pure volume any day of the week for me.

ytliek wrote:
I've preferred wooden whistles all along so I also play a rosewood high D made by Ralph Sweet (RIP) and also a blackwood high D made by Joseph Morneaux who apprenticed with RS and now owns the shop which is called Musique Morneaux.


I had a WD Sweet whistle in delrin that I stupidly sold on, but was a great player. I believe it's a derivative of the Sweetheart design, or at least looked awfully like the Sweet whistles I've seen. At some point maybe I'll get another one...


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:12 pm 
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I've never figured out the rage for wide bore session whistles. The whistle is pretty cutting. Most will carry in most sessions. In a huge group or amplified session, who the heck cares anyway. :D I even heard a Sweetone hold its own in a group of 17 in a full bar. I prefer my Copeland, but that is not particularly available to many. I also have preferred my Sindt. But I have heard many wonderful players of many different whistles from tweaked Generations to O'riodans. For the listener it is often the players skill as much as the whistle.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:50 pm 
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Another one here for the quieter whistle. In this case one of my old Generations. Plenty loud enough in our small session. In fact, I will still play one in large sessions.

I have some Susatos that are great for playing outside, but I wouldn't personally bring them into a session. As others say, I want to blend in, not "cut through." That seems such a violent imagery for music, and what happens when everyone wants to "cut through"?

I also play a melodeon, and will happily accompany a quiet mandolin or a harp in our session; at the right volume. It's perfectly possible, desirable in fact, to do that.

Here in England we're going back into lockdown on Thursday, so sessions and gigs seem farther off than ever.

PS. I've just bought a wooden whistle of moderate volume, certainly not a so called "session whistle." It's really for band work, but when we get back to doing sessions I might experiment leading off a few tunes with it. Though I suspect I'll just go back to my old Generations.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:20 am 
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I have some Susatos that are great for playing outside, but I wouldn't personally bring them into a session.


I'm not a session player, but I acquired an 'Eb' & a 'B' Susato pre used, & I find them to really be too loud to play at home, so seeing you refer to them as good for outdoors playing makes sense. :)

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Last edited by fatmac on Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:35 am 
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My session whistle of choice is a Swayne low D.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:47 am 
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I noticed that many of the whistles mentioned on this thread are tuneable. I play in small, mostly impromptu groups that include the mandolin, guitar, squeeze box, fiddle, and some vocals. The tunes are not strictly Irish so they're not really sessions. How important is it to you session players that your whistle is tuneable? I very rarely have to tune my whistle once the group gets going. The string players tune often as they go along.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:36 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
this is confirming a bias on my part against some of the prevailing wisdom that I've read and heard about "session" whistles being loud whistles.


I suppose it's a function of the sessions a person attends.

Here they're small affairs, often perhaps 5 to 7 people, and mostly fiddle and flute. The main issue with volume is being too loud.

A large session especially with banjos and accordions is a different proposition of course!

I have experienced those, generally at a festival, 30 or 40 people and multiple banjos and boxes and uilleann pipes and guitars and (say it ain't so) a drum or two. This was back when I was playing flute and with flute you can get a big sound if you really blast.

But I remember one session where, in addition to all the banjos and screaming pipes and such, a guy was holding forth on the world's loudest accordion. I broke out the dreaded uber-loud Susato High D that I used to have (extra wide bore, extra huge holes, the loudest whistle I've ever heard). I later gave that thing to a busker, and good riddance.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:32 am 
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I don't often play whistle in sessions, preferring the flute, but if I do, it's usually one of the the John Sindt "D" whistles I've had for over 20 years now I would think, having been told about them by John Skelton. Never regretted buying those whistles, and several students I had at one time in Aberdeen bought them as well, and are still playing them.
In a loud or noisy session, I might use the Tony Dixon plastic "D" I bought from eBay out of curiousity and was pleasantly surprised with.
If ever the sound from the Dixon gets lost, it's time to go home, although I would have the nuclear option of the "D" Overton soprano bought in the mid 1980s.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:49 pm 
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The tunes are not strictly Irish so they're not really sessions.


That would be news to people on this island playing in English/Scottish/Welsh or mixed sessions.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:49 pm 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
A large session especially with banjos and accordions is a different proposition of course!



In a large session I just pop in ear protection and ride the wave. Unless you're the one leading the session there isn't really a reason for you to be heard, just to blend and add to the general conviviality.


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