Whistle embellishments

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DBest
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Whistle embellishments

Post by DBest »

I’m primarily a bagpiper. So far I have been using modified piper embellishments on my whistles. Is this common practice?
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Re: Whistle embellishments

Post by pancelticpiper »

DBest wrote: Wed Aug 25, 2021 6:44 pm I’m primarily a bagpiper. So far I have been using modified piper embellishments on my whistles. Is this common practice?
What sort of bagpiper? The uilleann pipes? There are dozens of types of bagpipes.

I started out on the Highland pipes and later took up uilleann pipes. Like everyone who has gone on that journey I found that for every skill that transferred from the GHB to the UP there were a dozen other skills that didn't.

My advice to Highland pipers is that taking up the Uilleann pipes, or Irish whistle, is as different as taking up the piano or trumpet. Set aside everything you think you know, and adopt the mindset of a complete beginner.

Yes it's common practice for Highland pipers to, at first, try to transfer their Highland piping to Irish instruments. Soon they realise that they don't sound idiomatic, don't sound "Irish", and they start learning how to play the Irish instrument in its normal way.

Here's a short tutorial I did on the basics of Irish whistle ornamentation. To sound idiomatic I think you would be good to set aside piping embellishments and learn the Irish cuts, pats, and rolls. (I don't get any money for my videos, sorry that YouTube sticks adverts on them.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbE3JyWrJOE
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ecadre
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Re: Whistle embellishments

Post by ecadre »

"play the Irish instrument in its normal way"

What?

I only have a few moments before leaving to play in Stratford-upon-Avon for the day ... but this is just plain wrong in every aspect.
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Re: Whistle embellishments

Post by pancelticpiper »

ecadre wrote: Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:11 am ...this is just plain wrong in every aspect.
The point is that in traditional musics instruments, performance practices, and repertoire don't float independently.

Take Highland pipes. Sure a saxophonist can pick up the pipes and use saxophone-style fingerings and other performance practices. But anyone familiar with Highland piping knows that the instrument is traditionally played a certain way, using certain fingerings, using certain ornaments, in a certain style, and generally playing a repertoire which was composed on and for that instrument.

Like a jazz saxophonist once told me "you can't play anything in jazz, only anything that sounds right."

In Irish traditional music whistles are traditionally played with a certain set of performance practices. Sure one can play classical music on the whistle using classical performance practices, or jazz using jazz performance practices, and so on. All these things are valid. But they're not "Irish whistle" in the context of Irish traditional music.
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Re: Whistle embellishments

Post by Peter Duggan »

pancelticpiper wrote: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:20 am In Irish traditional music whistles are traditionally played with a certain set of performance practices. Sure one can play classical music on the whistle using classical performance practices, or jazz using jazz performance practices, and so on. All these things are valid. But they're not "Irish whistle" in the context of Irish traditional music.
But I think Andrew's point is that the whistle's not exclusively Irish and there are other styles...

The OP never mentioned 'Irish'. Andrew clearly plays English music. South Africans play Kwela. Me, I play a mix of Scottish, Irish, Shetland, European, whatever I fancy. For sure, I use some Irish embellishments even when I play the main title from Star Wars because they work, but it's a common assumption round here that whistle = Irish!
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Re: Whistle embellishments

Post by rykirk »

pancelticpiper wrote: Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:54 am
DBest wrote: Wed Aug 25, 2021 6:44 pm I’m primarily a bagpiper. So far I have been using modified piper embellishments on my whistles. Is this common practice?
What sort of bagpiper? The uilleann pipes? There are dozens of types of bagpipes.

I started out on the Highland pipes and later took up uilleann pipes. Like everyone who has gone on that journey I found that for every skill that transferred from the GHB to the UP there were a dozen other skills that didn't.

My advice to Highland pipers is that taking up the Uilleann pipes, or Irish whistle, is as different as taking up the piano or trumpet. Set aside everything you think you know, and adopt the mindset of a complete beginner.

Yes it's common practice for Highland pipers to, at first, try to transfer their Highland piping to Irish instruments. Soon they realise that they don't sound idiomatic, don't sound "Irish", and they start learning how to play the Irish instrument in its normal way.

Here's a short tutorial I did on the basics of Irish whistle ornamentation. To sound idiomatic I think you would be good to set aside piping embellishments and learn the Irish cuts, pats, and rolls. (I don't get any money for my videos, sorry that YouTube sticks adverts on them.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbE3JyWrJOE

This is all nonsense as far as it concerns the whistle or flute generally. Probably good advice for the uilleann pipes or if you specifically want to play Irish trad with other Irish trad players maybe. But the whistle is certainly NOT an 'Irish' instrument, nor is there a 'normal way' to play it. In it's modern form it was most definitely first produced in England and Scotland, for playing popular tunes. The Irish flute isn't Irish either, it's a classical continental and English flute. The Irish picked both of them up later as a result of being a British colony. You can play the whistle and flute however you please, you could spend a lifetime studying the whistle and never play a single Irish tune. You can play English and Scottish music, French and Swedish tunes. Medieval, renaissance, and baroque dance music and popular tunes mostly fit well. You can draw on hundreds of years of techniques and options for simple system flutes and pipe-like instruments.

I use Scottish bagpipe ornaments all the time. Specifically I finger my cuts like I do on the pipes, I use doublings, I do a throw like a D throw on the pipes but to G on the whistle, I birl the low D when playing tunes in E minor, etc. etc. I also learned and use Irish ornaments as well. It all works, just more tools for the toolbox.
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