Dose anyone actually like the Tin Whistle?

Dose anyone actually like the Tin Whistle?

This came up on another thread and it got me wondering.

So really, be truthful. Apart from whistle players, does anyone else actually like them? With a few noteble exceptions (mostly pipers and Micho Russel), they mostly sound horrid to my ears. Is it because they are seen as such an easy instrument, yet in actual fact, are very, very hard to master?

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I love tin whistles. Plan to learn to play one someday. But a badly played whistle sounds just as bad as any other badly played instrument.

Well maybe not. It’s hard to match a badly played set of uilleann pipes or a piano accordian. Or a fiddle, if the intonation is really off. Screeeeeech!

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The tin whistle in good hands is a wonderful thing. It’s problem is is that it’s the easiest instrument to play a tune on without having to master other skills first, so it’s played really badly the world over. It’s just as difficult to become a good whistle player as it is to become a good player of any other instrument though. One of my favourites is Carmel Gunning.

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Dose anyone?

I just can’t take a topic seriously that starts with such an abhorrent misspelling.

No wait…I just can’t take seriously such a ridiculously stupid question.

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Better to misspell than to play trad badly I always say….I have to say it - I am a shocking speller:):)

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It’s more the ridiculousness of the question than the actual misspelling that I find, well, stupid.

I’m often led to wonder: dose anyone like the instruments they don’t play? Do shaky egg players sit around and lament the horrors of the fiddle or flute?

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Anyway - to be honest - maybe I was just having a dig in the other thread cause I got annoyed. Truth be told I started off on the whislte and I was absolute Sh*t - I could never get the hang of it - It just never sounded right and I gave it up because I just dont think I wouldve ever been very good at it no matter how hard I tried - I just didnt suit it - if that makes sense.

I really dont hate it - specially when someone cool is playing - like McGolderick or McSherry (I know they are low whisltes but still)

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I think that makes perfect sense bb. Everyone is really suited to certain instruments and just needs to find the right one. I’m very much NOT suited to play instruments like guitar, but I am suited to instruments like whistle (and, outside the tradition, clarinet) and bodhran.

I also wanted to play flute but found out rather quickly that I have no aptitude for the instrument.

I guess I must have missed this other thread that set this discussion off.

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Yes - I agree crysania - some people just work better with certain instruments. The other thread was the plonkermeter one - I accept full responsibilty - I was being a tosser…..a plonker even:)

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Des Cafferkey from Achill Island is a prime example of how to to play tin whistle …check him out!!

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I’d agree on the compatibility thin Crysania - I tried to learn about 6/7 other instruments before being given a whistle at about 13 years old. I took to it instantly and then moved on to the flute at 16. I’m not particularly good, but I can hold my own in a session and I teach beginners at CCE. I leant one of them a flute which she desperately wanted to learn and she tried and tried and tried but it just didn’t suit her. She moved on to fiddle and the flute went to another kid who took to it like a duck to water. The first kid was really upset until I told her about all my failures in the attempt to find the right instrument!

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A deadly WEAPON but in the right pair of hands Magical .I play one at home badly but would never try it a session there is enough ropey whistle players out their already.

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What those horrible shrill notes that pierce ear drums?….oops….no that’s me inventing new bowing techniques on my fiddle. :-D

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Okay, okay, some people didn’t get the reference. "Dose" has been used on several threads of late, sorry if you missed them Crysania. It was a joke!

Now then, the question was inspired by a local whistle player who insists on overblowing and plays out of tune loudly in my ear. There is alway a fight for seats as far away from him as possible, but the last session I drew the short straw. It was hell. No matter how many times he’s been told, he insists on doing it because, as he says "it cuts over the top of everyone".
I’ve found this problem to be quite common with various whistle players over the years. It might sound great to them to "cut over the top" but it makes it tough on other people because they go so out of tune.
Is it the nature of the instrument that in the low register it is hard to hear in a large session situation? Is this why so many insist on playing loudly in the upper register? Well, I stick by my original statement and say that I think it sounds horrid.

What is the definition of minor 2nd? Two whistle players playing the same note.

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My cat does. I don’t play the whistle much even though I’ve got about 15 or more of them, because I can’t practise. The reason I can’t practice is because the moment I start the cat bounds into the house, gets onto my lap and starts nuzzling the whistle, practically trying to get the bottom end up her nose. I suppose that’s better than trying to get the top end up her bottom, but it’s still off-putting.

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That flute player who plays fast and likes cutsey tunes :) is called McGoldrick

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It seems the problem is not the penny whistle itself, but the whistle player in your area. Hope it’s not "Dow." I heard he started to learn this little instrument.

Re: Dose anyone actually like the bodhran?

Where did I say that? Uh… wait a minute…. what happened?

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Depends who’s playing it. - whistle and bodhran, any instrument,in fact.

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and Des Cafferkey was mentioned above - a mighty player!

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And by the way, the whistle player in question is a lovely bloke, and I’d hate to see him hurt and leave. It’s just that he drives me to distraction.

Nice to see you’re awake button. Good morning to your nightcap.

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I don’t think ‘Dose’ IS a mis-spelling. I think it’s just a different version/setting :-)

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Good morning to yourself benhall.1.
You do realise that your namesake down here was shot, 36 times, for telling bad jokes don’t you?

And that should have been, good morning to my nightcap I guess.

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Of course the whistles want to "cut over the top of everyone," because you can barely hear them sometimes. But, as you say, they shouldn’t do that at the expense of the overall sound. For a good example of how to "cut over the top," listen to the old Chieftains recordings (1-8) with Sean Potts, who liked to play an octave above the tune when possible.

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I love it, having played it since the mid - 70s. But the cat mentioned above probably took it for a small animal in distress.

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Sean Potts, what a mighty player. My issue is that in so many sessions, as opposed to recordings, how out of tune so many of them sound.

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And nicholas, if I know anything about cats, it was searching for the escaped canary rather than making a statement about musical instruments.

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It has been mentioned that it’s the player not the instrument that counts.
Yes but it’s very difficult to get hold of a decent whistle. I have several in D and I don’t really like the sound of any of them - a well-played in Generation is as good as you need I think. I’ve heard Sindt are good (possibly from Kenny) so I may go for one of those some time soon. Any one else find this?

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Actually, Danny, it’s not difficult to get hold of a decent whistle. You just have to make sure your hands are dry and there’s no margarine or other low-friction unguents on the instrument. Of course you could always use an elaborate system of cantilevered straps and supports, but that would just be silly.
This advice comes to you absolutely free.

Max

PS that wooden one you’ve got which you’ve kindly let me play sometimes I quite like

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It must the noises inside my head then. I’ll phone The Maudsley right away.

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I like the sound of the low D whistle - but probably any instrument sounds horrible when thrashed (possibly fiddles and bouzoukis are exceptions). I know when things get too loud I just stop playing my harp because it hurts my fingers, and sounds ugly when played loud!

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There not bad when they’re played using a mute

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Well, we’ve had bodhran bashing and piano accordion bashing etc. etc. so lets add one of the oldest instruments of them all - the whistle … great lads.
Sure the whistle is one of the greatest little instruments; leave half a dozen lying around and just pick it up and play as the mood takes you: in the kitchen, office, car .. stick one in your rucksack and play it up on the hills. You can’t do that with your precious fiddles or bulky button boxes or tempermental pipes. You can’t seriously be suggesting that the whistle is unworthy.
Yes, I think that many are a bit sharp but perhaps that’s part of the character of the cheap tin whistle.

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Just trying to even up the score;-)

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… and Good morning to you too, thedon. Yes, but he was a good egg really wasn’t he? And believe me, those who know me will realise that that was one of my very BESTEST jokes. :-)

Whistles are great, by the way. Absolutely love them when played well - hate them when played badly. And I think a badly played fiddle is the worst of all, but that could be because I tend to listen to them more than to other instruments, being a fiddler myself and all.

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Well, if truth be told, I was just trying to rile up a few local whistle players. Mighty fine players who have been strangely silent in this discussion. I guess they realised that there was a wind up happening.
Back to the drawing board.

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A really ambitious use of the whistle to make friends and influence people (well, maybe not the former) is to try out The Japanese Hornpipe, in the version (not the one in the sheet music here) which takes the tune up to top d’ and e’ fairly frequently in the second part. I haven’t conquered it myself, but it’s impressive in the hands of someone who can do it!

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absolutely love it, sad to see so many abandon it for the flute.

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Anyone who has listened to the likes of Gavin Whelan, Carmel Gunning, Mary Bergin, the laet Frankie Kennedy etc would never ask such a question.

I started off on the whitle and 30 odd years on am still playing it. I also play flute, which I love, but it is NOT a progression from the whistle. The whistle has a beauty all of it’s own and I will play whistle sets as well as flute sets at sessions.

As for overblowing the upper octave - well you can but dont have to. The whistle will still be present even in a loud session on the lower register. It adds to the colour of the music and there is no need to overblow all the time. This is especially true if you have a really good instrument like a Burke or a Syn which will carry.

But I will be honest and say that sometimes I bring the big guns out in a big or noisy session. Susato rules OK! :-)

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One last comment about wanting to "cut over the top of everyone." That phrase really just means to "stick out like a sore thumb."
And I have to agree with what Breandan just said: Flutes and whistles are, of course, closely related, but also quite different. There are days when I feel in a "whistle mood" and others when I feel in a "flute mood." Don’t ask me to explain that last statement, but it’s true.

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"I started off on the whitle" - but now you’re a cut above, breandan?

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Yes, I do. We had the pleasure of enjoying Dee Havlin’s Whistle playing in our session for 3 years - JOY!

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Our favorite whistler moved away to Galway : (
and has been studying with Mary Bergin : )
We hope she comes back soon!

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I have thirty or so whistles, and I’m in no way a musician. I love the sound. Even my poor playing.

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It is a magnificent instrument. Tremendous range of expression.

The thing is to know when, and how to use the sound. Expression with it is everything