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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 3:37 pm 
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whistlecollector wrote:

Chiff is nothing more than the "non-musical or disorganised sound" that a pipe makes when beginning to speak -- it's, as you organ restorer friend indicates, the attack.

It's kind of like, literally, when you say the word "chiff", chiff is the [tʃ] sound at the beginning of the word.

Here it is in action, since you want a video!


I was tending to side with him, because his definition seemed to match what I had read, but I had seen more people describing it as the sustain that I second guessed it, figured I would ask the experts here.

And that organ is super awesome, I need to send that to him! He makes glass pipes, this is his famous one: https://youtu.be/jAi6yDxXWl0


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:11 pm 
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Greenfire wrote:
And that organ is super awesome, I need to send that to him! He makes glass pipes, this is his famous one: https://youtu.be/jAi6yDxXWl0


Nice indeed!

A rank of Hall crystal flutes! (almost...)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:35 pm 
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One should consider how you want the chiff to show up.
Do you want it there on all notes, or as an added bit of expressive spice put on only some notes, such as with a high-pressure air attack on some phrases and not others.
Is it variable and controllable?
Is it uniform across all notes on the whistle or does it show up more or less at the extremes such as the highest 7 notes or so, the lowest notes too?
Is the level of chiff or breathiness on a Killarney or Clarke or Tony Dixon or Alba or any other whistle known to be "pure note" or more chiffy, uniform across the octaves or variable?
Specific comments would help from those experienced with particular models.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 6:20 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:

Chiff is nothing more than the "non-musical or disorganised sound" that a pipe makes when beginning to speak -- it's, as you organ restorer friend indicates, the attack.

Here it is in action, since you want a video!


For a less "emotive" performance on a chiffy pipe organ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWWj08IbPpw&t=226s

I had never heard of chiff in relation to anything other than a pipe organ until I first visited this site.

I have tried whistles that had a major problem with the voicing, where the notes spoke with difficultly, but I would never dream of buying or playing them.

I think we're actually talking about timbre, the tone-quality of the sustained/continuous note. Since music has a word for that exact thing we might as well use it.

I very much prefer my high whistles to have a clear clean tone with a tad of complexity and darkness but as little "noise" as possible.

With Low Whistles I do really like the MK, which has a timbre I've not heard elsewhere: a dirty gravelly sound, yet there's a solid core to the note. I have found that in a noisy group the core can get lost a bit making the noise become more prominent. To me the MK shines when played solo.

The other Low Whistle I've tried that's sort of like that is the Reyburn. Once again the timbre is unique, not as "dirty" as the MK but also having a wonderful Native American Flute aspect. When I've played a Reyburn Low D in a noisy group its strong core holds its own. It's uncanny how the Reyburn Low D I had sounded foggy when played solo but solid when played in a group.

The higher-pitched Reyburns and MKs, I know nothing about.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 7:32 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
whistlecollector wrote:

Chiff is nothing more than the "non-musical or disorganised sound" that a pipe makes when beginning to speak -- it's, as you organ restorer friend indicates, the attack.

Here it is in action, since you want a video!


For a less "emotive" performance on a chiffy pipe organ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWWj08IbPpw&t=226s


Heh. That was my second choice of videos!

Quote:
I had never heard of chiff in relation to anything other than a pipe organ until I first visited this site.


Same. The electronic organ I used to play (a 1980s era Allen) has two chiff stops, so you could make it sound more or less chiffy.

But when you get down to it, a penny whistle is nothing more than an organ pipe with some holes in the side. Construction & tuning & voicing are all pretty much interchangeable terms between organs and whistles.

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I have tried whistles that had a major problem with the voicing, where the notes spoke with difficultly, but I would never dream of buying or playing them.


Well, sure. Bad voicing is bad voicing!

Quote:
I think we're actually talking about timbre, the tone-quality of the sustained/continuous note. Since music has a word for that exact thing we might as well use it.


Chiff is part of timbre, but timbre is the whole tone quality. That's like where we run into terms like "pure" and "flutey" and "reedy" and the like.

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I very much prefer my high whistles to have a clear clean tone with a tad of complexity and darkness but as little "noise" as possible.

With Low Whistles I do really like the MK, which has a timbre I've not heard elsewhere: a dirty gravelly sound, yet there's a solid core to the note. I have found that in a noisy group the core can get lost a bit making the noise become more prominent. To me the MK shines when played solo.

The other Low Whistle I've tried that's sort of like that is the Reyburn. Once again the timbre is unique, not as "dirty" as the MK but also having a wonderful Native American Flute aspect. When I've played a Reyburn Low D in a noisy group its strong core holds its own. It's uncanny how the Reyburn Low D I had sounded foggy when played solo but solid when played in a group.

The higher-pitched Reyburns and MKs, I know nothing about.


Those are matters of timbre, and unfortunately, the terms we use to describe it are, while lovely in their own way, so subjectively descriptive and idiosyncratic that it's very difficult to even know what is meant. "Dirty" tone? "Solid core"? "Foggy"?

At least we have a definition and clear examples of "chiff"!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:42 am 
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For sure it's well nigh impossible to put timbre things into words.

What's particularly odd is how people will use the term "flutelike" to describe whistles, the odd thing is that whistles with entirely different timbres both from each other and from flutes will be thus described.

I think it's a tad more specific when I say a whistle's tone has a Native American flute aspect, or a Bulgarian kaval aspect, because those timbres are quite specific and can be heard on numerous Youtube videos.

The silliest thing describing timbre is when Highland pipers say that they prefer a particular pipe because it sounds "deeper". Any instrument can be made to sound deeper by tuning it lower. But they're not talking about pitch, because a higher-pitched pipe will be described as having a "deeper" tone. From what I can tell what they really are talking about is pipes that are louder.

There's really three elements, when you break it down:

1) presence of higher harmonics, a continuum being dark/dull on one end and bright/ringing/buzzy on the other end.

2) volume.

3) a continuum having a pure tone on one end and a lot of noise on the other end, or focused v unfocused.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 11:37 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
For sure it's well nigh impossible to put timbre things into words.

What's particularly odd is how people will use the term "flutelike" to describe whistles, the odd thing is that whistles with entirely different timbres both from each other and from flutes will be thus described.


True that! But also consider: what does "flutelike" even mean?, especially when we consider that, around here in Chiffland especially, "flute" often means something other than the modern Boehm flute. (Baroque & Boehm) ("Irish" Flute)

Rhetorically speaking, which one of those is "flutelike", and which whistles match!?

Quote:
I think it's a tad more specific when I say a whistle's tone has a Native American flute aspect, or a Bulgarian kaval aspect, because those timbres are quite specific and can be heard on numerous Youtube videos.


Indeed. (Though I might cantankerously ask: which Native American flute do you mean? North or South?

Quote:
The silliest thing describing timbre is when Highland pipers say that they prefer a particular pipe because it sounds "deeper". Any instrument can be made to sound deeper by tuning it lower. But they're not talking about pitch, because a higher-pitched pipe will be described as having a "deeper" tone. From what I can tell what they really are talking about is pipes that are louder.


I didn't think there was any volume control on those things! :poke:

Quote:
There's really three elements, when you break it down:

1) presence of higher harmonics, a continuum being dark/dull on one end and bright/ringing/buzzy on the other end.

2) volume.

3) a continuum having a pure tone on one end and a lot of noise on the other end, or focused v unfocused.


I think when it comes to "flutiness" and those kinds of descriptors, I think it's more No 1, presence of which harmonics.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2020 8:37 am 
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whistlecollector wrote:
what does "flutelike" even mean?, especially when we consider that, around here in Chiffland especially, "flute" often means something other than the modern Boehm flute.


Yes it's hard to know what people mean. As I came to Low Whistle from 35 years of playing Irish flute, it's the Irish flute sound that I had in mind. But when I heard people describe whistles that have a sound almost diametrically opposed to the reedy Irish flute sound as "flutelike" I began realising that they weren't talking about Irish flutes, or perhaps even Boehm flutes or Baroque flutes. Given the whistles they were calling "flutelike" they probably had Native American flutes and possibly Baroque recorders in mind.

whistlecollector wrote:
which Native American flute do you mean?

Around here, anyhow, Native American Flute (NAF) almost always refers to the modern USA flute with the external fipple device.

Tarkas, Kenas, Mosenos, Sikus, etc are generally called Andean flutes.

I say "modern USA flutes" because as far as I know the actual traditional North American native flutes were endblown flutes very similar to the Bulgarian kaval, which sound nothing like the modern commercialised NAF.

whistlecollector wrote:
I didn't think there was any volume control on those things!

It's funny when you show up at a gig and they want you to play softer, or want you to crescendo or decrescendo.

I piped for a production of Brigadoon (the piper's staple gig) where the director was insistent that I start at full volume and gradually decrescendo as the piece progressed. When I convinced him that the only way this could happen was for me to walk further away, or be in a room where somebody slowly closed the door, he hunted around the building and discovered a long narrow hallway in the basement underneath the auditorium. I started my piece directly under the audience and slowly walked down the hallway as I played which evidently created the desired effect. An ancillary benefit was that I didn't have to be in costume!

Anyhow various sets of Highland pipes have inherently different volume levels, and the same set of Highland pipes can be set up to play at dramatically different volume levels depending on the reeds you use. But then you're stuck at that level of course.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:41 am 
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Having spent a lifetime in the pipe organ business, mostly as a voicer, pancelticpiper's video of is an good example. Chiff, or articulation, is 'noise' in the attack as the pipe settles into its steady state. If you have a very well built mechanical action organ, pipe speech can be varied with key pressure and speed, but not all tracker organs (or organists) are capable of that effect.

You aren't going to hear 'chiff' (in this sense) in a whistle without tonguing the note, and I'm pretty sure that's why the ornaments, or articulations, are what they are in that they define the musical line without tonguing. Scratch, sizzly steady-state noise isn't chiff - it's noise by any other name, that's referred to by countless terms, 'sizzle' being one I've always used. The voicer, whether organ pipes or whistles, can control 'chiff' or articulation and sizzle with various techniques, as too much of either can be very unmusical. There are organbuilders who prefer to remove all the articulation and steady state noise and the result falls on the ear like a dull 'thud' as musical lines require definition.

I've owned many different types of whistles over the years I've been playing, and some are indeed chiffier than others, and some are much more 'sizzly' than others, too. I think the chiffiest whistle I owned was a Grinter. It was the mostly beautifully made whistle with, to my ears, just the perfect amount of articulation IF you wanted it to chiff, and steady-state noise.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:51 am 
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rhulsey wrote:
You aren't going to hear 'chiff' (in this sense) in a whistle without tonguing the note,

I too think the chiff sound is at the attack in tonguing.

rhulsey wrote:
Scratch, sizzly steady-state noise isn't chiff - it's noise by any other name, that's referred to by countless terms, 'sizzle' being one I've always used.

Sizzle works for me or hissing.

rhulsey wrote:
The voicer, whether organ pipes or whistles, can control 'chiff' or articulation and sizzle with various techniques, as too much of either can be very unmusical.

Too much of any is undesirable but a little adds the character and uniqueness to the specific whistlemaker. Perhaps a desired style of build.

I do think the C&F Whistle Forum here ought to hammer out (once and for all) an agreeable definition/vocabulary for distinguishing what "chiff" specifically refers to, while "articulation", "sizzle", "hissing", "airy", "etc.", are all terms that need their own reference points. :D :poke:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 1:57 pm 
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rhulsey wrote:
Scratch, sizzly steady-state noise isn't chiff - it's noise by any other name, that's referred to by countless terms, 'sizzle' being one I've always used.

'Chiff & Sizzle'... excellent! That cuts out 'fipple', which is another widely misunderstood and misused word. :P

ytliek wrote:
I do think the C&F Whistle Forum here ought to hammer out (once and for all) an agreeable definition/vocabulary for distinguishing what "chiff" specifically refers to

It's an attack transient, as you, I, rhulsey and others know fine well! :)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 5:41 pm 
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ytliek wrote:
I do think the C&F Whistle Forum here ought to hammer out (once and for all) an agreeable definition/vocabulary for distinguishing what "chiff" specifically refers to, while "articulation", "sizzle", "hissing", "airy", "etc.", are all terms that need their own reference points. :D :poke:


Seems to me that chiff, at least, is a done deal. In looking through the responses to this thread, and in reading this forum generally, I think the vast majority of folks are on the same page. Or at least browsing the same book, when it comes to what chiff is.

We've had organ players, whistle players, pipe & whistle players, organ builders all hone in on the same phenomenon.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:44 am 
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So I must ask, what's the confusion surrounding "fipple?"


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:01 am 
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Greenfire wrote:
So I must ask, what's the confusion surrounding "fipple?"


Beats me.

It's the wooden plug in the mouthpiece of a recorder or a rolled tin whistle. The bit that directs the wind onto the blade where it can be divided and thus make musical sound.

In a plastic mouthpiece whistle it's simply the floor of the windway formed by the plastic mouthpiece itself.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:04 am 
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The fipple was originally the block forming the floor of the windway and part of the beak (essentially the plug in the top end of the tube), but the meaning has stretched in some usage to include the whole mouthpiece and sound-producing parts.

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