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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:16 pm 
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Hello everyone, I am new to the whistleworld. I started with a Feadog D a month ago and just started playing my Susato C and Low C. I wanted the lower key because I wanted to learn some songs that I like from Kila and Brother that are actually played on Bagpipes.

If I set off an alarm, I'm here for advice, so please let me know if this is a common mistake or issue.

I'm finding it frustratingly difficult to pinpoint what key whistle I need to get the bell note they play with the bagpipe on these recordings. I can key all but the bottom two or so notes on my C's and I thought I had everything I needed. Having just dropped $150 I feel a little dumb.

Does anyone know what key is considered the most common for trying to play along with Bagpipes or Uilleann pipes? I am aspiring (once I get good at whistle) to move on to Uilleann but most of the modern rock music I listen to with pipes in them have Bagpipes. Can anyone help me?

Thanks so much!

Eric

PS: Dale - it is true. I have the disorder. Have only been playing for a month and I already have three of these things. Addiction.. is... engaged..


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:05 am 
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Hi Eric,

Welcome to the board from a fairly new poster. Your answer could be fairly lengthy as the GHB is not in your common western scale and is tuned differently from band to band and person to person. My GHB I tune to A at 479hz which is fairly sharp compared to others, some drop it down to 460hz. I have played along with whistle to a couple of CD's as you are trying and found that Eb is the one that really covers the range of the GHB on my recordings. I have also fairly succesfully played along with a Bb whistle which I actually prefer. The uillean pipes I think are covered by a D whistle either low D or Sop D but am probably leading you down the garden path with that info. I am sure someone will chip in with some proper info for you there. Feel free to ask away any advice, I think there are many folk here who give wonderful advice and are more than willing to help out a fellow whistler starting out.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:57 am 
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An Eb, eh? Never would have thought of going a note higher than where I started...then again they make a low, so hmm.. Bb I figured since one of the two songs has a bell note one note lower than my C but the other one I'm trying to learn I think goes down to A... any advice on an A? I appreciate the insight on the GHB since it sounded like everyone I was listening to on CD had about the same bell note, now I'm a little more leary of that idea being universal. What have you found you are not able to pull on a Bb for this application?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 5:08 am 
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Welcome,

This very subject came up recently in a discussion about Scottish and Irish whistle styles. This is what I wrote in reply to a query:

3 - Aaron - the way to play pipe tunes along with pipes in Bb is to use an Eb whistle, not a Bb. You only have 1 octave plus 1 low note to play. Your top note is : xx0000 [ = a , upper octave, on a D whistle ] , drop down the scale to xx0000 [ = A , lower octave, ] and your lowest note is xxx000 [ G, on a D whistle ]. That gives you the 9 notes, with the Cs and Fs sharp and the G natural. Sorted! Same applies to flute. Pipers in Scotland who play "small-pipes" or any of the varieties of bellows-blown pipes have them pitched in A to play along with concert-pitch instruments.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:08 am 
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Kenny and others have just about covered it. But don't throw away your high or low C if you are planning to move to Uilleann pipes. A lot of Uilleann pipers prefer flat pitch pipes in C or even in B. The Uilleann pipes cover two octaves. So C whistles would be useful for learning tunes.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:44 am 
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kenny wrote:
the way to play pipe tunes along with pipes in Bb is to use an Eb whistle, not a Bb. You only have 1 octave plus 1 low note to play. Your top note is : xx0000 [ = a , upper octave, on a D whistle ] , drop down the scale to xx0000 [ = A , lower octave, ] and your lowest note is xxx000 [ G, on a D whistle ].


Thanks Kenny for the post, I found it helpful. I do have a question though. I listened to a scale recording on the 'net and in Eb it sounds like I'd need a note lower than the first note there. Am I doing something wrong in this approach? The Bb scale sounds like it hit the lowest note in the songs I'm trying to play but is contrary to what you suggest; I'm trying to figure out what I'm not getting. It sounds from your post I can pull playing these songs on a standard D and have three notes below the song's bell just in case by the description (thank you!) you gave on how that would be fingered.. is that a fair evaluation?

I guess maybe the train I'm missing is I've been operating under the pretense I should get a whistle that has a bell note that is the same note as the lowest note in the pieces I'm trying to learn. Is this a flawed approach?

Thanks everyone for your help in answering my question, it is most appreciated for this most confuzzling bafflement!


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:45 am 
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Wombat wrote:
don't throw away your high or low C if you are planning to move to Uilleann pipes. A lot of Uilleann pipers prefer flat pitch pipes in C or even in B. The Uilleann pipes cover two octaves. So C whistles would be useful for learning tunes.


I will certainly keep that in mind. I like the sound of the Cs I got I'm just trying to figure out what to do with them since I can't quite get the material I'm interested in to cooperate with me :)


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 Post subject: Sorry - I'll try again
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:58 am 
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Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Eric - Let me try again. There are 9 notes on the scale of the Highland bagpipes, and the same 9 notes are to be found on an Eb whistle as follows:
Your top “bagpipe” note on an Eb whistle is the fingering equivalent of a high “a” note; xxoooo in the upper octave. Replace one finger at a time going down the scale, into the lower octave, to the low “G” note : xxxooo in the lower octave. Those are the only 9 notes which appear in any Highland bagpipe tune, [ apart from the few tunes by pipers such as Gordon Duncan or Robert Mathieson, who occasionally compose tunes using a “cross-fingered” c-natural ].
The 9 notes are as follows, where “x” means a finger covers a hole on the whistle

xxoooo = a [ xx are the “top” 2 fingers, covering the 2 holes nearest the mouthpiece. ]
xxxooo = g
xxxxoo = f#
xxxxxo = e
oxxxxx = d
oooooo = c#
xooooo = B
xxoooo = A
xxxooo = G

One other thing to bear in mind, if you ever come across bagpipe staff notation, you’ll notice that they do not indicate sharps or flats. That is because it is not deemed necessary, because there are only the 9 notes in pipe music. But if you play the music as written, on a D whistle, with the “c”s and “f”s sharp, you will be playing the tune the same as a piper.
Hope I’ve explained it better this time. Good luck.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:34 am 
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Hey with C whistles you could slways play alongside Northumbrian Smallpipes provided the whistle is tunable because NSPs play a bit sharp of F but are written in G. GHB chanters go to a low Ab which a Bb whistle will not bring you even though the two have similar fingerings. Not all SSP players have A Chanters some have D Chnaters in that case you need a G whistle. Some times a GHBer will use the very controversial "flat C" which is essentially a C nat. GHBs have cross fingerings but it is not tradtion to use them and will get you ejected from a compition.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:36 am 
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kenny wrote:
xxoooo = a
xxxooo = g
xxxxoo = f#
xxxxxo = e
oxxxxx = d
oooooo = c#
xooooo = B
xxoooo = A
xxxooo = G



Thanks for the follow up, this was clearer. Allow me to ask though, why use an Eb and not a G? I would think that since G on a G whistle is xxxxxx and the lowest note on the 'pipes is a G, this would make whistle fingering easier?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:28 pm 
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Nope it wouldn't.

On a pipe the notes are G x xxx xxx x (the top being the thumb and the bottom being the pinky... this is probably wrong), but the key is that on the pipes, this "lowest note" is achieved by covering a hole that you simply don't have on the whistle. Allow me to explain:

The closest you could get would be to take an A whistle, and add a G hole that should be covered by your pinky. Then you would play the G above that as 0XX000 (ie the same as Cnat on a D whistle)

So, the proper thing to do is to take a D whistle, and play the A scale: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A.

But then you can also get the bottom G. As well, since whistles are louder the higher up you go, you actually have a shot at hearing yourself, if, say, you decided to actually play with a piper.

No comes the confusing bit: GHB are tuned sharp, so that while it is called 'A', it is actually much closer to Bb. So, instead of D, you want Eb.


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 Post subject: not enough sharps
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 2:50 am 
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Pipe tunes have 2 sharps - c# and f#. c is natural on the scale of G.
You would only ever use an Eb whistle if you're playing along with pipes [ eg - I use one if I'm trying to learn tunes by ear from pipe band recordings ] or are in a session where the pitch is sharpened by a semi-tone, which does happen occasionally, especially in Ireland. It's of no use in a normal session which would be pitched in "D".
Personally, I have never found any use whatsoever for a "G" whistle. I play tunes in the key of "G" either on a "D" whistle, or flute in concert pitch.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:46 am 
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Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and help! I don't think I have any more questions about the key I need, which is sweet, because I'm going to get me an Eb as *everybody* recommended. Thanks again for bearing with my stumbling!

Now I'm curious, does anyone have any particular passion for one whistle or another for playing with 'pipes? I'll probably get a Susato because I like the way they feel, but I've only had a Feadog and Susato.


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