Falling Slides

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Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

Grey Larsen in his Essential Guide talks about falling slides, the more difficult technique of sliding from a note to a lower note. But in analysing Spillane's music, Davy often plays slides that fall away in pitch and volume without connecting to another note. In the first bar of Big Sea Ballad, for example, he slides off second octave E, the pitch apparently dropping a long way without forming a solid note as such. How does he do this, technically speaking? This time it can't be a processing effect can it? :D Whether I'm slowly shading the bottom open hole or easing off on the breath, I inevitably hit another note soon enough.
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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Low whistle players seem to love those dying notes. A cynic once said they use them because they run out of breath and hold on to the note until they have nothing left at all. The 'dying breath note' is one way of describing that sound.

So that's one part of the answer: use your breath to drop a note. You can use the fingers for a similar downward slide, just about the reverse of a slide upward. Use them if you have a destination you want to arrive at.
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Lars Larry Mór Mott
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by Lars Larry Mór Mott »

Better not mention the mental picture i saw from your description Peter... :oops:
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AlexD
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by AlexD »

Lars Larry Mór Mott wrote:Better not mention the mental picture i saw from your description Peter... :oops:


Now you've got everyone's curiosity peaked :twisted:
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Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

Guess it's just practice, like everything else. I'm doing plenty of that!!! :D
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benhall.1
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by benhall.1 »

Low whistle players do love that sound, don't they? It is, I think, the single sound I most hate in all of trad music. I literally can't stand it. Where did it come from? It seems to be a modern invention. Perhaps Peter's (or the cynics') suggestion is right and it came about at the same time as the low whistle because of the added breath requirements of that instrument.
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Steve Bliven
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by Steve Bliven »

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Oh, so sad (but still better than "dying breath")....

Best wishes.

Steve
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Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

I love it!!
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Mr.Gumby
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I think, the single sound I most hate in all of trad music.


Well, I didn't want to barge in and say I think of those notes as the ultimate in bad taste (have been getting enough stick over speaking my mind in recent weeks. Note to Ben Steen: don't get on e-mail after having a few and having the inhibitions lessened and then tell people to f them selves, it is embarrassing behaviour) but on the other hand, I don't think I can think of any example traditional player I respect who using them. Not in traditional music anyway. But it's a stock in trade for the more mood music orientated low whistle players, and that's fine. I think I have in the past compared them to the tear in the voice of a C&W singer.
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Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

Yeah, I can totally understand that. I'd be curious to know who you would class as "mood orientated low whistle players" apart from the obvious Davy Spillane . . . who is the sole reason I picked up the whistle in the first place and my continued source of inspiration. Pure ITM, generally-speaking, only interests me from a playing point of view (I enjoy ITM concerts when I can get to them) as far as it provides the necessary source of technique, ornamentation and teaching to build on, though there are a few traditional reels and jigs I enjoy playing. Sessions though I don't think will ever interest me . . . even if I reached the standard to play in one. Its what I call ethereal music (yes, mood music) that I want to learn to play.
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by pancelticpiper »

Yes it's a New Age-y sort of thing that's become more and more prevalent on various Irish instruments.

On the whistle I do a combination of breath and finger to do it.

It's a very straightforward thing to practice, just practice bending up to and down from each note. So, bend as smoothly as possible from Bottom D up to E, then back down. Keep going up the scale.

Of course you can do it with breath alone but how much of a drop in pitch you can get depends on your particular whistle.

With whistles which have a purposely flatter 2nd octave you're pushing all the 2nd octave notes up to get them to pitch; this gives you quite a bit of 'room' under the note to let the note fall, without having it actually drop to the low octave. Old Overtons are great for that, having an astonishingly large scope both above and below the 2nd octave notes. On whistles with a sharper 2nd octave, such as the MK, there's virtually no 'room' under the 2nd octave notes and if you back off very much they'll just drop the octave. Thus bending down must be done mostly by the fingers.

And it works both ways: the MK has a relatively flat low register which must be strongly blown giving you more 'room' under the low octave notes to do a 'fall'.

It's interesting that doing these 'falls' has also become common on the uilleann pipes where it must be done with the fingers. Unlike on the whistle, on the pipes there's no drop in volume, just in pitch.

Paddy Keenan particularly likes bending down from B to A. Listen to his version of The Blackbird on the old Bothy Band album.
Richard Cook
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1945 Starck Highland pipes
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Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

Thanks for the pointers and information, Richard. I'm wondering what was special in particular about older Overtons. I find there's room enough on my recent Goldie to do it. Does backpressure make a difference one way or the other?

Despite Mr Gumby's remark I haven't come across many low whistle players using the technique much . . . or at least it's been subtle and I haven't noticed it. Piper Patrick D'Arcy uses it liberally a la Spillane on the low whistle on the traditional air An Raibh Tú Ag An GCarraig from his CD Wallop the Spot. I haven't as yet listened to the piping tracks. It sounds good to me but then it's obviously not to everyone's taste.

After practising a little I realise that falling slides in the second octave are harder to do "cleanly" without some noise at the end of the slide. But I'll continue to try.
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by pancelticpiper »

Mikethebook wrote: I'm wondering what was special in particular about older Overtons. I find there's room enough on my recent Goldie to do it.


I just used Overtons as an example because I've owned several of them over the last 35 years, and I'm very familiar with how they play.

Any whistle with a flatter 2nd octave (meaning that you have to 'overdrive' all the notes to get them up to pitch) will have more 'room' under each note, allowing you do drop the pitch with your breath while still keeping the note in the 2nd octave.

On the Overtons I've had (Low D, Eb, and E) there was a huge amount of room on both sides of the 2nd octave notes.

On the Burkes I've had there's a rather narrow window that the 2nd octave notes sound in. This is especially apparent when switching to a Burke immediately after playing an Overton. For inexperienced whistle players Burkes are great because the 2nd octave notes just 'pop out' right at pitch. This makes playing in tune very easy, almost like having a fret on the fingerboard. The Overtons are more like playing a fretless thing: you can go anywhere with the pitch, which can be a good thing, or a bad thing (if you don't have a good ear).
Richard Cook
c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle
Mikethebook
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Tell us something.: I took up the low whistle about five years ago after seeing the opening minutes of Riverdance and Davy Spillane's haunting playing. Even now, though I play jigs and reels to learn ornamentation, my main interest is seeking out, transcribing and playing (or rather trying to play:)) all Davy's slow low whistle pieces that I can find . . . and there are many beyond his solo albums.
Location: Scotland

Re: Falling Slides

Post by Mikethebook »

Thanks, Richard. I'm still curious though how backpressure will affect the "room" available either side of a note since Bernard made both freer blowing whistles and harder blowers. What would the difference between them be in terms of "room?"
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pancelticpiper
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Re: Falling Slides

Post by pancelticpiper »

I don't know anything about that.

As a piper, 'backpressure' on whistles doesn't exist for me as an individual perceptible thing.

What I do notice is efficiency, that is, how much volume or quantity of air passes through a whistle, meaning what length phrases can be played.

I'm told that air-efficiency is mated to backpressure, but that's for whistle makers to explain! I don't know how that stuff works.
Richard Cook
c1980 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle
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