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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:32 am 
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Hi everyone,
I'm new on here and just thought I'd say hello. :)
I have just purchased my first tin whistle - it is a Clarke Sweetone in D.
I have never played one before and bought it on a bit of a whim really, which is most unusual in anything that I do!
I don't have much in the way of musical experience; I can read music (not terribly well, I need more practice!) and play a little on the keyboard - or at least I used to when I was much younger, at my nan's house, but I no longer have access to a keyboard, apart from the online Apronus one, which is good, but not the same!
I really miss playing an instrument and thought that the tin whistle might be ideal - I love the sound and it's small and portable, which is a must.
The downsides are that I can't practice at home because of disturbing housemates.
The only time I get alone in the day is at work, from about 8am - 9:30 am.
I work in a shop, alone until that time, apart from the very occasional early customer.
After that it gets much busier with customers, so playing would be more problematic.
There is a tenant in the flat above the shop and I'm worried about disturbing him first thing the morning, so if I said I can play between 9 and 9:30 in the morning, that would probably be about it, at the moment anyway.

Do you think I am totally silly to even contemplate learning to play, given these restrictions? :boggle:
It will certainly be a challenge I expect and I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me because of it!
Or you could end up getting very fed up of me on here and chuck me off! :lol:

Pbff


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:02 am 
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You can "mute" your whistle you know. There are various methods, including the one described here:

http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/b ... l#bluetack

Edited to add: welcome to the madness, no you are not silly, please keep at it.

You'll find places to play without disturbing others - outside in the woods in summertime, or if you drive a car, when waiting at traffic lights (if you don't mind a few funny looks). Never play while driving of course.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:17 am 
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Welcome aboard. :)

(You could, maybe, practice on your way to work, or when going home.)

P.S. You can use 'whistle tab' to get you started.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:06 am 
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Thanks for the welcome and the advice guys! :)

I think I will certainly try the blue tack trick, thank you StevieJ.

I can't practice on the way to and fro work, as I car share, but summer in the woods sounds like a good idea.
At least I can only upset the wild birds there! :lol:

I have only tried to play a few notes so far and I've only got them somewhere about right once. :lol:
I think I am too anxious about being heard to relax properly and so my breath is not perfectly even, causing a fair bit of screeching and wavering, particularly up the higher end of the octave.
Probably not quite right on sealing the finger holes 100% up either. I find it hard to get my middle fingers to remain tight aginst the holes.
Hopefully these things will come with practice and as I've spent less than half an hour experimenting so far, I can't expect much better at the moment.

I daresay you will be hearing from me again soon! :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:46 pm 
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It is hard to practice--my wife has made it pretty clear that she does not enjoy whistle practice. I do it when no one is home. Also in the car--long traffic lights are much less boring with a whistle to practice.

I've tried quieting it but not had much luck--if it gets quiet enough it doesn't play well.

There is a silent whistle under development, called WARBL (https://warbl.xyz) I will buy one the instant it's available


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:51 am 
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Another way of quietening a whistle is with a piece of card, the width of the fipple hole, about an inch to an inch & a half long, bent across at about a third of its length, then inserted into the whistle, covering the edge of the blade - it worked fairly well on a Generation I tried it on.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:52 am 
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Thanks PB+J and fatmac for your replies.

Last night, I tried a tip from the link that StevieJ provided about quieting whistles:

A variation on the above: "Holding the whistle as you normally would, rest the mouthpiece just under your lower lip, blowing into the "exit ramp". This keeps the whistle in the correct position but gives you the same light, airy sound. (A novice whistler, I learned this trick by accident when a family member was trying to nap in the same room I was playing in... it works great!)" Susy Yarbrough

It worked really well! Although I couldn't practice blowing into the mouthpiece correctly, I could practice the fingering and was able to hear the notes, but so softly only I could hear them (I practiced when I had gone to bed).

This morning I have tried your tip fatmac, with the card, and that worked even better, because I was able to practice actually blowing into the mouthpiece as well as the fingering.

Once I heard that the people in the flat upstairs were up and about this morning and they had turned a TV or radio on, I then tried playing the whistle with just a little blue-tack on and managed to play a couple of tunes tolerably ok (the Christmas carol 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' from a tab and about half of 'The Rattlin Bog' from the free lessons by The Online Academy of Irish Music).

Thank you so much everyone for your help!
I'm feeling much more optimistic about learning to play the tin whistle now! :)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:37 am 
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I was going to suggest that silent way of playing the whistle. I've done it literally ten feet away from my sleeping wife and not awakened her.

If you already read music,even just a bit, I'd strongly suggest working on that and ignoring TAB. If you learn to read music you'll have access to thousands of great tunes for whistle. Common Irish fiddle tunes mostly work out on the whistle.

If you can hear your neighbors' TV, I think you're justified in playing your whistle aloud. If you know them well, you might explain your whistle playing and ask them if there are any times that would be good for you to practice without disturbing them.Even better, see if you can insterest them in playing, and you can have your own sessions!

Keep at it,man!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 8:15 am 
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Quote:
A variation on the above: "Holding the whistle as you normally would, rest the mouthpiece just under your lower lip, blowing into the "exit ramp".

Joannie Madden on 'Song of the Irish Whistle' uses this technique on the beginning of the track below, very effective! I use it frequently when there are family about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_qF6Fm ... aY&index=3


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:24 am 
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Thank you brewerpaul and DaveAuty for your advice.

I used tab to get me started, but I am using the sheet music a lot more now - helping to learn 2 new skills at the same time!

The practically silent playing is brilliant, because I can play a tune over and over again to commit it to memory, without offending anyone's ears! :lol:

I listened to the Joannie Madden track - that technique certainly creates an amazing sound doesn't it? I really like the effect.

My playing is beginning to improve now and I'm really enjoying it now too.

Now that I have learnt some basic tunes, I am beginning to experiment with some ornamentation, so any tips and advice about that would be much appreciated :)

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.

All the best

pbff


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:40 am 
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I'll take a shot at it. No doubt corrections will be issued.

The basics of ornamentation are two moves, the cut and the tap. The cut is when you very briefly open the note above the one you want to play, and the tap is when you very briefly play the note below the one you want to play. VERY briefly, just a little blip, not even really recognizable as a note. So if you are playing a G you very briefly lift the finger on the hole above it, or very briefly bounce the index finger on your lower hand down to the F hole.

The way it was explained to me is that the pipes don't have any way be stopped. With a flute or a sax or a clarinet you can stop a note by tonguing, and tonguing is taught as an essential part of jazz and classical technique. But on the pipes there no way to stop a note except by releasing pressure on the bag, and so pipers evolved a set of techniques to make staccato playing possible. Cutting or tapping can turn a half note into two quarter notes, or it can emphasize a change between notes, or it can add that wild quality to a tune that might otherwise sound sort of simple.

An easy way to practice is to just play a D scale, cutting each note. That is start on low D and briefly lift the E finger; play E and briefly lift the F#, etc.

Taps are harder than cuts to get right. For taps, just practice the major scale with a tap below each note. You can't do a tap on the low D, but you can on the others.

A "roll" is a combination of a cut and a tap. If you do it right you don't really hear the other notes, you just hear a rhythmic emphasis

Brother Steve's tin whistle pages are really excellent on this: https://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:18 pm 
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If you are having trouble with the middle fingers sealing the holes you may be depending on your fingertips too much. Most of us use the pads of our fingers (sometimes even below the fingertip knuckle depending on how your hand is built). Try placing the pad of your first finger on the first whole down lower than you might think you should, sort of like you are getting your finger prints taken on a TV drama. Do the same thing with the right hand on the fourth hole. Then, keeping the curve of your fingers at a minimum see where your fingers land. You may find using the flatter part of your fingers helps you close the holes easily. And as your playing gains speed, and you learn how to do ornaments, this finger placement will be of great help.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:36 am 
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Quote:
No doubt corrections will be issued.


Ok, there you go then:


Quote:
The way it was explained to me is that the pipes don't have any way be stopped.
:really:

It is an old chestnut that seems virtually impossible to root out. People seem to keep repeating it again and again and again.

The statement is incorrect where the Irish pipes are concerned.

Quote:
pipers evolved a set of techniques to make staccato playing possible


They simply stop the chanter between notes. They do have a way of doing this:

Quote:
The Uilleann pipes chanter is open at the bottom, but can be closed in normal play by being placed on the player’s knee. This feature enables the Uilleann piper to use two sets of musical possibilities that are not simultaneously available on other forms of bagpipe. Players of permanently open chanters (e.g. the Highland pipes chanter) employ a suite of ornaments to embellish the necessarily sustained notes. On the other hand, players of permanently closed chanters (e.g. the Northumbrian ‘Smallpipes’) can opt for a totally staccato style, giving a completely different character to the music. Players of the Uilleann pipes have a chanter that can be open (held off the knee) or closed (placed on the knee), allowing them to play in either style, or in a mixed style, availing of the advantages of both. from Pipers.ie


I suppose an example, rather than just giving out about it, would help : Liam O'Flynn with Planxty playing Brian O'Lynn

note the separation of the As: cAA cAA GEF GAB cAA {c}A2 G (3AcA A and the (3AcA A as clear examples of non legato and staccato playing and how in the repeat of the first part instead of the bit with the AcA triplet he plays three As, followed by a fourth preceded by a cut : AAA {c}A2

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:00 am 
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There are also other styles of bagpipes where the chanter can be "stopped", and others that use a root note to go back to that is the same of one or more of the drones, thereby "silencing" the chanter.

This explanation of tin whistle playing technique sometimes also leads to the mistaken belief that no Irish players ever uses tonguing, only play legato and only ever use fingered "ornamentations" to articulate the tune. I've heard the results of this thinking in person and many places online, usually propounded by people who have little link to or knowledge of traditional music.

It also gives a false impression that articulation by ornamentation is something peculiar to tin whistles (because of the bagpipes explanation), or even to Irish traditional music. You can hear many of the same types of techniques (not always precisely the same for technical reasons, but fulfilling the same role in articulating the tune) on many other instruments, and in other related traditional music such as Scotland and England.

Of course, traditional musicians use tonguing techniques differently to others; most players use far, far less of it than, for instance, a recorder player who's playing non-folk music.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:16 am 
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Quote:
There are also other styles of bagpipes where the chanter can be "stopped"


I didn't want to complicate things by going to Northumbria and beyond and limited my argument to the Irish pipes because whistle technique as discussed here generally is rooted in Irish music. I don't think it should necessarily and it is a mistake to think ornamentation as used in Irish music is 'whistle technique' tied to the instrument, rather than a device stylistically tied to a specific type of music. There are other ways to skin that particular animal, depending on the music you want to use it for. I am always slightly thrown by people here who declare vehemently they don't play, or even like, Irish music and then in the next sentence look for explanations on how to play rolls and crans. Anyway, such is life I suppose, confused.

As for tonguing, just listen to players like Willie Clancy or Seán McKiernan (pic below) playing the most wonderful lively music on the whistle. And putting to rest the notion that Irish traditional whistle is a mostly legato pursuit.

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