Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

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Narzog
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Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by Narzog »

Random thing I've been wondering. Why do some whistles make this really high pitched sound when they leak air, and some don't? If you don't know what I'm talking about, get a whistle, do oxx xxx, and slowly lift a finger. Preferably one in the middle. Your whistle may or may not be able to do it.

The issue with this, is it can do the sound often when I'm cutting or transitioning to different notes. Think something like going from xxx xxx first octave to xoo ooo, when I go to lift all those fingers, I get this quick and really high squeak in between switching notes. Because when lifting fingers, theres a split second where it was leaking in between having holes covered and un covered. And the sound drives me nuts. I can't figure out if its a user error thing, or why some whistles do it. My MK, Burke, and Reyburn don't do it even if I try. My Tilbury do it but minimally, I pretty much have to try to make them do it. My Gen Bb and Dixon trad do it but not to a horrible level. And my Thunderbird and busker F and Bb do it really bad. Which drives me nuts, because otherwise I really like them. So I'm wondering, what causes this? I can reduce it by trying to have perfect finger technique on some transitions, but it feels impossible to fully eliminate. There always has to be a time when I'm uncovering holes that it can happen. It steals all of my joy when playing these whistles. But I feel like this shouldn't be an issue.
busterbill
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by busterbill »

I've not experienced that particular issue. But it seems like something you could likely control with air pressure. As we both seem to play multiple whistles, this is a concept you've likely addressed with other types of whistle misbehavior/user error. I've often find it takes a moment to refamiliarize myself when I switch whistles.

As to the why-s. Perhaps there is a maker here who could address that.
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Loren
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by Loren »

What you are hearing are “whistle tones” briefly explained and demonstrated here on the flute https://youtu.be/_0hwOGANuYk

Basically, as you transition from one note to another, one fingering to another, there is a brief time period where you are creating these whistle tones on some of your whistles and that’s what you hearing. Causes can be too much( most likely) or too little air pressure as you are transitioning, transitions that are slow, and transitions that are sloppy - needed fingers not coming off the hole(s) at the same time or coming off at an angle rather than straight up or down. Obviously any of these playing errors could be occurring in combination.

Playing with the correct air pressure for a given whistle, using accurate, crisp fingering, and you shouldn’t get the whistle tones. Problem is, if you play multiple whistles from different makers in different keys…….. well, there are a lot of adjustments to be made from whistle to whistle based on the key and whistle design. Which answers your question regarding why is this happening with some whistles and not others - it’s because YOU are happening to various whistles :P

It’s also fair to say that there are characteristics of whistle design and workmanship that can influence the ease of production of unintentional whistle tones, but generally speaking, it’s a player’s technique that determines whether or not unintentional whistle tone production becomes a problem.
Narzog
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by Narzog »

busterbill wrote: Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:28 am I've not experienced that particular issue. But it seems like something you could likely control with air pressure. As we both seem to play multiple whistles, this is a concept you've likely addressed with other types of whistle misbehavior/user error. I've often find it takes a moment to refamiliarize myself when I switch whistles.

As to the why-s. Perhaps there is a maker here who could address that.
Yes you are right, while most of mine play similarly there are still differences that are probobly making me play it more incorrectly haha.
Loren wrote: Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:17 am What you are hearing are “whistle tones” briefly explained and demonstrated here on the flute https://youtu.be/_0hwOGANuYk

Basically, as you transition from one note to another, one fingering to another, there is a brief time period where you are creating these whistle tones on some of your whistles and that’s what you hearing. Causes can be too much( most likely) or too little air pressure as you are transitioning, transitions that are slow, and transitions that are sloppy - needed fingers not coming off the hole(s) at the same time or coming off at an angle rather than straight up or down. Obviously any of these playing errors could be occurring in combination.

Playing with the correct air pressure for a given whistle, using accurate, crisp fingering, and you shouldn’t get the whistle tones. Problem is, if you play multiple whistles from different makers in different keys…….. well, there are a lot of adjustments to be made from whistle to whistle based on the key and whistle design. Which answers your question regarding why is this happening with some whistles and not others - it’s because YOU are happening to various whistles :P

It’s also fair to say that there are characteristics of whistle design and workmanship that can influence the ease of production of unintentional whistle tones, but generally speaking, it’s a player’s technique that determines whether or not unintentional whistle tone production becomes a problem.
Thanks for the info, I'm glad there's an actual term for it. But yes you are correct in that its overall an incorrect playing issue. I'm still going to say some whistles seem better at doing it than others, but with better playing form it shouldn't be enough of a problem to be a problem.

With more testing I've noticed that I'm definitely blowing too hard. But that's because the thunderbird sounds really good blown hard and can be blown hard. Well until it screeches at me haha. I'll give playing it softer a chance though because less angry whistle sounds would be ideal.

That said as annoying as playing it is when its making these sounds, I guess its a great way to improve. My MK doesnt make angry whistle sounds at me if I screw up so mistakes are less noticeable. So if nothing else, a harder to play instrument is a great way to find player errors to improve on.
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TxWhistler
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by TxWhistler »

Narzog,

I've waited until now to respond because I'm only 17 months into playing the whistle and I wanted to hear what others had to say about the matter.

I've had a similar experience that led me to the conclusion that the problem was user error or incorrect method rather than something wrong with the whistle. I've bought and played several makers alto and tenor whistles during the past year with very little problem playing them (MK, Burke, Sindt, Howard, and Karavaev). The learning curve that I've had with these whistles is learning how hard to blow them to get them into and keep them in the 2nd octave and learning where the boundary was for over blowing the notes. It was fairly easy to play these whistles without getting sounds I didn't want.

Then a few months ago I bought an old Overton Low D. It's not signed and I don't know the history of the Overton's well enough so I only know who didn't make it (Colin) I think. I began playing it and it sounded horrible!!! I mean really bad. I thought it was the whistle at first but the more I played in over the next few days the more I picked up that it was my not lifting and putting down my fingers in unison that was the main problem. That is when I understood this whistle could benefit my playing more than the others in that it would force me to get into the habit of lifting and setting down my fingers in unison. So now I play it first or some times it will be the only whistle I play for days at a time. Now when I play it, I don't get all the unwanted sounds as in the beginning.

This reinforced the saying I've heard on C&F to learn how the whistle wants to be played.

As to why some whistles are more forgiving than others I don't know, maybe those with experience making whistles can give the technical answer.
Narzog
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by Narzog »

TxWhistler wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 5:45 am Then a few months ago I bought an old Overton Low D. It's not signed and I don't know the history of the Overton's well enough so I only know who didn't make it (Colin) I think. I began playing it and it sounded horrible!!! I mean really bad. I thought it was the whistle at first but the more I played in over the next few days the more I picked up that it was my not lifting and putting down my fingers in unison that was the main problem. That is when I understood this whistle could benefit my playing more than the others in that it would force me to get into the habit of lifting and setting down my fingers in unison. So now I play it first or some times it will be the only whistle I play for days at a time. Now when I play it, I don't get all the unwanted sounds as in the beginning.

This reinforced the saying I've heard on C&F to learn how the whistle wants to be played.

As to why some whistles are more forgiving than others I don't know, maybe those with experience making whistles can give the technical answer.
Well our whistle journeys seem to have taken an extremely similar path then haha. To my knowledge Phil Hardy learned to make whistles originally with Colin. So its very probable that whatever your Overton does that makes it harder to play is what my Thunderbird does. I'm glad you were able to get your to play well, hopefully I can do the same. I do agree that playing the harder ones is better practice. While my MK and Burke don't do anything bad from playing sloppily, the sloppiness is still there I just didn't notice. So this one will be my main practice whistle for a while.

I have a theory for why some whistles do this and some dont. I remembered last night that I made a whistle a while ago that I forgot to sand down the block (I didn't know to yet), so that when you looked down the windway you couldn't see below the lip. On this one you had to blow noticeably harder, and if you didn't blow hard enough you got the whisper/whistle tones. So I wonder if it would have also gotten them from playing. But I quickly realized what the issue was and sounded the block down. It never became a good whistle but it ended up player easier. I noticed early on that when I look down the windway of my thunderbird, you cant see below the lip. I have a feeling this is done for a purpose though and not on accident like when I did it.
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ecadre
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Re: Why do some whistles squeak when they leak and some dont?

Post by ecadre »

I'm not a whistle maker, but I can tell a story that turned out well in the end.

I bought a wooden whistle and thought for a while that I had possibly made a rather expensive mistake.

It randomly made horrible screeching noises when playing the bottom four notes of the second octave. If I stopped for a moment and blew the note again, it would generally be fine and drop back into the proper note. I hoped it was me (fingering, breath pressure), something I could get over, but whatever I tried, it just kept doing it.

In my daily practice I started repeatedly playing "The Lemonville" on it (it spends nearly the whole tune in the problem area) and tried to stop the random screeching. I frequently felt dispirited about it all since I play a number of different whistles and have never had a problem like this.

Sometimes it felt like I'd cracked it, but then the thing started with the random screeching noises again. I also changed my normal finger placement on it; slightly flatter, and moved a little further down the finger towards the first joint.

Then it all fixed itself. I don't really know whether it's the finger placement, my breath pressure or what, but I now have to positively try if I want it to make horrible squeaks.

My thought is that it's a mixture of the two things I worked on, ie. the finger placement and breathing. The whole whistle is considerably fatter than the D Generations that I'm most used to, and this in combination with larger holes may have been at the root of the whole problem.

I know that Chieftain whistle holes are on the larger side with larger bores also, so it's possible that this may be the issue
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