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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:49 am 
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I've been learning to play Waterman's from a slowed down video of John McSherry in concert with At First Light, a great video because of its close up view. http://www.kerrywhistles.com/movie.php?groupID=13#. At a couple of points in the tune (one at 54min 4sec) John slides from B to Cnat and it looks like he makes the slide using both the half-holed Cnat and the cross fingered OXXOOO arriving at the latter as he lifts his first finger away. The slide is clearly heard in the tune and an important part of it but I can't get his effect merely with the half-holed Cnat. Any idea what he's doing or how one does this. It's not clear enough to me.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 3:07 am 
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Simply a 'piper's C'.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 3:24 am 
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Thanks, Mr Gumby, but I'm none the wiser. Can you enlarge on that or point me to a resource where I can understand it better? Many thanks.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:22 am 
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Yes this is exactly how it's usually done on the uilleann pipes, and I do it the same way on the whistle.

It's one of the things that tyro pipers have to master early on, being such a distinctive colour on the pipes, but it's a bit tricky at first.

Doing it piper-style only works if you're using "piper's grip" , having the fingers flat.

Start at B xoo ooo

then go to xxx ooo but with the top hole open just a bit. This is done by lifting the tip of the finger upward and away from the tube while keeping the rest of the finger in contact with the tube.

Then continue lifting the tip of the index finger upward and away (or "uncurling" the index finger as it's described in The Dance Music Of Willie Clancy) and as you continue doing so opening more of the hole and the pitch continuing to rise.

Eventually the index finger can be off the tube altogether oxx ooo or the finger can continue to be in contact at the very edge of the hole, which flattens the note a bit and (on the pipes) gives C natural its distinctive colour.

The ability to use this characteristic C natural is one of the strong reasons to use crossfingered C natural on the whistle (rather than the halfholed C natural).

Another reason is that the crossfingered C natural can be patted, cut, and rolled like any other note.

BTW on the pipes a thumb gracenote is part of this glide up to C natural; obviously this is not done on the whistle.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:31 am 
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Awesome pancelticpiper! Thanks for the indepth explanation. That's exactly what John McSherry was doing though I didn't understand even watching at 10% speed. To me it would appear to give a much fuller sounding slide than using half-holing. I've tried half-holing but I can't get the sound John does using the piper technique.

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Another reason is that the crossfingered C natural can be patted, cut, and rolled like any other note.


Maybe I'm being a little slow here - it is Sunday - but could you enlarge on this in your usual thorough way. I haven't got my head around it.

Your solution begs another question. I wonder just how many other piper techniques not found in any whistle tutor should be learned by low whistles players using piper's grip. If there are others would it be worth me buying a piping tutor? And if so, which one. I haven't heard wonderful things about Davy Spillane's sadly. Thanks for all the help.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:36 am 
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With the crossfingered C natural you can play a "cut" that is a gracenote above the note

oxx oox
oxx xxx
(patting the lowerhand fingers to get a D gracenote)
oxx oox

or a "pat" that is a gracenote below the note

oxx oox
xxx oox
(patting the upperhand index finger to get a G gracenote)
oxx oox

Put it all together to roll C natural

oxx oox
oxx xxx
oxx oox
xxx oox
oxx oox


Not "traditional" I suppose, but I use C natural rolls in many tunes. Heck, the fiddlers roll that note, why not me?

About other piping techniques, of course Matt Molloy is famous for popularizing crans and the pipe's staccato B-C-d triplet (quasi-staccato on the flute however).

I find myself doing things on the whistle which are sort of pipey I suppose, like using bottom D pats on F# and G sometimes, and even a couple Highland pipe things such as a "grip" (leumluath or dro) and the little piobaireachd ornament from A to B (on the Highland pipes from E to F#, dare). These aren't traditional whistle ornaments of course.

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Last edited by pancelticpiper on Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:40 am 
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Thanks pancelticpiper! Very helpful.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:41 am 
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I've been trying to do the slide but without much success. XXXOOO "with the top hole open just a bit" produces all sorts of unhelpful noises and harmonics. If I start with all three holes closed and slowly lever up the top finger, I was hoping to find a point where there is suggestion of a flat Cnat but, as I say, all I get are noises. Could it depend on the whistle? I haven't had any success with either of my Low Ds, Goldie and Dixon.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:03 am 
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On the pipes it's really tricky, because as you're saying when that top finger is "vented" just a tiny bit the chanter squeals.

On the pipes you have to be able to go from

x xoo xxxx

to

x pxx xoxx

(p= partially open... I just made that up!)

in one smooth move, and the hole has to be open just past the point where it wants to squeal. Open too much, and the resulting C isn't flat enough to give you the latitude for a nice long bend up to the full pitch of C natural.

Tyro pipers have to practice that quite a bit, to get that switch from B to that partially open C natural just right. (Then it becomes second nature and you can't do it wrongly if you try.) Once you're there, at that flat C natural, you can make the bend quicker or slower to suit the sort of piece you're playing.

I admit I've never had a squeak on the whistle doing this, probably because I've been doing it for 35 years and take it for granted. In fact I didn't know until you posted that, that it was possible to get a squeak on the whistle! But I'm very aware of the squeaks that beginning uilleann pipers get. (Or experienced uilleann pipers: Liam O Flynn has a big squeal going to this C natural on one of the old classic Planxty albums.) The thing on the uilleann pipes is that the fingering for C natural in the low octave also happens to be the fingering for D in the 3rd octave! So when you get that squeal it's a high D that screams out.

Anyhow on the whistle I would imagine it's similar to the pipes, just getting that venting finger open enough to not squeal, to get a pure note, and at the same time still closed enough to give you room to do a long cool glide up to full pitch.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:30 am 
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Thanks. I guess I just have to practice . . . like everything else. Interestingly I tried lifting up my first finger on my Lofgren High D and I get little in the way of squeaks or noises as it lifts off.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 5:29 am 
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Opening up this thread again, I found how Spillane slides from B to Cnat during the Corona Air. It's a lot more complex and I can't play it yet but it sounds very smooth. The note before B is E so to get to B he drops the bottom finger down while almost imperceptibly lifting T2 & T3. Then while slowly curving the finger away off T1 he puts down T2 & T3 and slides off B2 & B3, the former then oscillating for vibrato. Anyone manage this?


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 5:49 am 
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Mikethebook wrote:
I found how Spillane slides from B to Cnat during the Corona Air. It's a lot more complex and I can't play it yet but it sounds very smooth. The note before B is E so to get to B he drops the bottom finger down while almost imperceptibly lifting T2 & T3. Then while slowly curving the finger away off T1 he puts down T2 & T3 and slides off B2 & B3, the former then oscillating for vibrato. Anyone manage this?


It's the standard way pipers do it, just done on whistle.

As I said it's common for pipers to play a thumb-cut just at the transition between B and the special vented C natural position I described above.

What I didn't get into was that some pipers will put a low note, instead of a thumb-cut, at the same spot.

Since some pipers play C natural, or at least attack C natural, with the chanter off the knee, some will play a Bottom D there (at the junction between B and the special vented C fingering).

Oftentimes these little gracenotes resemble what are called 'crossing notes" in Highland piping, and are a byproduct of the fingering you happen to be using. In other words the specific pitch of the crossing note isn't important.

So, were one fingering C natural like so:

oxx ooo (or oxx oox)

you could naturally get a G crossing note thus:

xoo oox
xxx oox
oxx oox

Likewise using oxx xox for C natural would give an F# crossing note:

xoo xox
xxx xox
oxx xox

A piper, playing B (translated to whistle terms) xoo xxx could thus get a bottom D crossing note, if he lifted the chanter for it:

xoo xxx
xxx xxx
oxx xox

Anyhow I listened to that Riverdance YouTube video again, the intro with the whistle, and there is nothing unusual about his C naturals at all. It's the way pipers always do it, and it's only natural (!) for pipers, when they pick up a whistle, to do it the same way.

Yes it's quite standard on pipes to throw in vibrato all over the place including C natural.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 6:16 am 
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Thanks for the explanation, Richard. Just to clarify, do you actually play the crossing note however briefly before lifting the first finger or are you lifting it as you put down T2 & T3?


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 12:36 pm 
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I do this a little differently -- I almost always precede that "piper's C" with a cut on the d, but when I play that second-octave d I keep my top-hand index finger close to the hole, pointing upward but partially covering it (as Richard explained above). I then slide the index and middle fingers of the bottom hand off the whistle to get a C natural, whose pitch I control by sliding my top index finger a little more off the hole (but never really entirely off the hole). Pipers control the pitch of the C natural using that same top-hand index finger: sliding it a little more off the hole sharpens it.

To my ear this gives a pretty close approximation to the classic rising piper's C in tunes where it's held as a long note.

The basic sequence is this:

oxx xxx (note that the top hole isn't completely open but slightly covered by the top-hand index finger)
oxx xxo
oxx ooo (here you slide the index and middle fingers of your bottom hand off the whistle while controlling the pitch of the note with the top-hand index finger.

Here's a demo, on an old Generation C whistle: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/475 ... idingC.mp3

It sounds the way I like it on this whistle; I find it harder to do on a Sindt, for example.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:34 am 
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Thanks for that. It sounds cool but I haven't mastered it yet.


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