The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

My mom went to a story to get my brother a harmonica, and she saw an interesting looking tin-whistle on display. So she picked it up and blew on it.

Any way, to make a long story short, we are now in position of that tin-whistle, and I had some questions about it’s quality. It is Clarke penny whistle (supposedly the original design), crafted in tin plate with a wooden mouth piece and a tapering bore.

Does the wooden mouth piece effect how it will sound over time? What is your opinion of the wooden piece? And what exactly does the tapering do to the sound? (and again, you opinion)

Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

"we are now in position of that tin-whistle,"
between someone’s lips with their fingers covering your holes? Oh dear. Or do you mean "possession"?

I think the wooden block in the Clarkes can dry your mouth a bit, but they do have a sound of their own.

Why don’t you ask the people over at Chiff and Fipple: http://chiffboard.mati.ca/

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Those whistles are rough-and-ready compared to the more modern metal-and-plastic ones. The latter can vary in playability from one whistle to another - and the original metal-and-wood "Clarkies" do so all the more; let’s hope yours is playable. The wooden block can collect gunge, grow mouldy even, shrink if dessicated and expand when humid or if you wash the whistle out; if it has sharp edges - and I don’t know how much if at all this affects the playability - cleaning and poking inside could well blunt them.

Those wood-and-metal ones used only to be available in C - a lovely key but not much use in modern sessions. I don’t know if that type became available in D. (Certainly, Clarke have produced D whistles in metal and plastic.)

The plus side of the wood-and-metal Clarke, if you get one that works, is its particular sound - hoarse, mellow and vital together. It needs, and responds to, a lot more breath than an ordinary metal-and plastic one, and on it a good player can play reels etc. that express a good deal of energy. Vin Garbutt (singer/player based in Tees-side, UK) comes to my mind as an extremely good player of this particular instrument.

Now, can I have my Folk Music Degree, please?…

Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

A conical-bored whistle produces a different set of overtone ratios to a cylindrical bore, so the tone is different (more ‘rounded’, less shrill, perhaps - better to hear them side by side than to rely on verbal descriptions though). The volume also tends to be somewhat more even over their range than cylindical-bored whistles - in the cheaper whistles, at least.

I doubt whether the wooden block itself really makes a huge difference to the sound. But the Clarke’s Original has quite a wide windway, which gives it a much breathier, less piercing sound than its plastic-topped counterpart, the Sweetone and Meg. The block is prone to shrinkage if it is allowed to dry out with lack of use, which results in leakage of air and accumulation of moisture around the edge (consequently, it is not the most hygienic of whistle designs) or the block falling out altogether. (i’ve just thought - Does anyone oil their blocks to keep them stable? If not, why not?). So, to answer your question, Eleiel, the wooden block will have an effect on how the whistle sounds over time, if it is allowed to shrink. If there is air leakage, then you will find that you expend more breath but get a weaker sound. If water builds up in the gap, you may even get a slight bubbling sound. If the block falls out, you’ll get no sound at all.

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I own perhaps a hundred whistles, including some of the most expensive sort, and consider the Clarke D original a favorite among them.

Yes, they have been available in the key of D for fifteen years or more. I have bought, tweaked, and given away dozens of them, and have never found one that didn’t work just fine when purchased. (There are other similar-looking whistles, the Cooperman in particular, which are much less consistent.)

The breath requirement is higher than most other whistles, which is why I tweak them, but it’s still much less than the similarly-designed Shaw.

Among other things, I punch a tiny hole in each side of the head section, and drive a small round-headed brass pin into the maple block to prevent it from shifting, should it come loose with use. I also wax the block with (what us Americans call) parafin, the sort of wax used to seal jars of homemade marmalade and such. A candle would do. Then I heat it slightly with a flame to melt the wax into the wood. This seems to help prevent the block from absorbing moisture, and I’ve never had a problem with mold, despite daily use.

These things are so cheap and of such relatively good playability that I use one as my main whistle, only resorting to a Copeland when I need the additional volume.

And I never worry about loss or theft. I carry an extra in case I meet someone that needs a spare or admires mine, in which case I give it to them.

And I prefer the way they sound to most everything else.

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First and foremost, could people please stop correcting spelling, the person could be non-English speaking, dyslexic, a bad typist, or anything else that springs to mind. It should be non PC nowadays.

When I were a lad, people swore by the Clarke’s whistle, they were condidered to be the real thing, much better than generation and all the other brass, nickel whistles. Hiowever I think it was considered trendy to say that in those days, this was before people began paying hundreds of pounds for a "Penny" whistle, and they were all in C. Suited my mate, as I played a cheap C mouth organ.

Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

but it was funny!
and position was spelt perfectly

my Clarke comes from that period, possibly even before you were a lad

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Story, instead of store, which confused me at the start, was spelt perfectly as well.

I will send the Guerilla movement to Aberdeen and Australia at once, beware the menace of the bodhranistas.:-)

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Why is it no longer PC in your eyes to expect English to be written in proper English? True, there are some non-natives who write here, but when I write in other languages I usually make it clear who I am and apologize in advance for mistakes.
And surely you know in your bones that the majority of crappy, misspelt, mispunctuated apology for English that you read here comes from people who have English for a mother tongue, but who just haven’t learnt how to spell or punctuate, and who in some cases can’t even be bothered to use the shift key or even the space bar.
I’m not, I should say, particularly referring to Eleiel’s message. It has a few mistakes, it’s true, but I certainly don’t check stuff that I write here very carefully, and I make mistakes too. I’m thinking more of the drivel found on other threads, like that from fluteplayerbelfast (to name only one recent contributor). We have the right to call crap like that "crap".

Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

Hi Eleiel - I used to quite like the Clarke whistles, and they used to be popular with some of the older Irish players. Jim Donohughe from Sligo was well known for playing one. He recorded the reel "Miss McLeod’s" on a record called "Music From The Coleman Country". I think you can hear that track on a website called "Brother Steve’s Whistle Pages" or something similar - "Google" "Brother Steve" and you should find it. There is also sheet music and a commentary on his playing - and many other good players too.
One of the best recordings I ever heard of Irish whistle playing was played on 2 Clarke "C" whistles - a set of reels by Desi Wilkinson and Neil Martin from Belfast on a CD called "The Crooked Stairs" when they were part of the trio "Cran". A great CD if you can find it, and worth it for that track alone.
The Clarke tin whistle company also made a book about the history of their company and some of the prominent players of their instrument. I don’t know whether or nor it’s still available.
Good luck, "kenny".

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Wow, this is the second time people have commented on my mis-spellings. (I was in a great hurry or I would have double checked every thing).

The whistle is acutualy in D. I was quite supprised; I knew that C was the most common.

I really like that tip about the paraphin wax Jumper. But I am a bit of pyromaniac, so I am a rather hesitant to try it.
It does sound nice! (if diferent from the ones with a plastic mouth piece)

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I might add that Clarke have produced a companion tutor to the whistle which struck me as extremely good when I saw one years ago. There have been many cr*p whistle tutors for sale over the years, so the good ones are worth noting.

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In the World cup final in 1966 the commentator remarked "The linesman only speaks Russian and Turkish". Now only the English could denigrate dual linquistics like that, and it is well known that the English by and large speak only one language, because it is up to foreigners to learn "The Mother Tongue".

I detest "text speak" as I am usually fastidious about spelling and punctuation, but I do make allowances for those with difficulties, whatever the reason. There is a vast difference between mis-spelling and text speak.

But then, I am not English.

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I did not intend to be critical but rather express mock effrontery at the salacious image suggested by the felicitously transposed words "position" and "possession". But my on topic comments were about a Clarke C - alas I didn’t know of any other.

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Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

I have played many whistles, but the original Clarke in D is my all-time favorite. The only problem I have with it is that it is only tin plated on the outside, and the inside of the whistle has started to rust, so at some point I will have to replace it with one of the spares I have in my drawer.

Re: The Origional Clarke Penny Whistle

One of the best whistle I’ve ever played was an old Clarke (C of course). The owner had spent a lot of time and care modifying the fipple area. I got the best Clarke I could find (picked out of a batch of several dozen, many of which wouldn’t play at all) and borrowed this great old Clark for about a week and tried to copy its terrific tone. I got close. I lowered the roof of the windway, I changed the cutting edge over and over, I changed the sides of the opening etc etc. I learned a lot about how a Clarke could be altered but I never could quite get that certain special tone of the old one.
Anyhow that’s the great advantage to the Clarke: the ease of customising it to suit the player.

Strange discovery

Hello everybody - as some others here do when they write in foreign languages, I apologise in advance for possible mistakes for I’m no native speaker.
I own a Clarke’s Original in D - or so I thought until I played it right after playing on my old Little Black (also D). The Clarke was definitely lower! Not yet C, but also not really D. How could that be? My boyfriend checked it with a piano in baroque-erm, tuning? and the Clarke A was right between the baroque A and B. He studied music, so his explanation was that in the course of time notes tended to become higher - the today philharmonic A is proven higher than the A some centuries ago. So it would be possible that Clarke uses an older tuning, perhaps from the classic period. What do you think?

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I’m almost certain that A 44o was standardised well before your whistle was made. It’s much more likely that it’s just shoddy.

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