What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

This has probably been done to death, but I’m a new member, so be kind! After playing Irish flute for 30 years I find that now my hands cramp up. My fluteplaying days are over, and all of my flutes are up on Ebay. So, I was wondering what the best alternative was, a whistle that has a nice flutelike tone, that you can push, that has a honking D, that is loud enough to be heard in sessions.
I just got a Burke Pro Viper low D and I’m very impressed. It has a big fat bottom D, and a strong muscular tone overall. It seems to be perfectly in tune. Other whistles I’m considering are the Copeland brass low D, and the Sweet laminated wood low D. I’ve also read great things on this forum about the Cillian O Brien (sp?) low D. Any thoughts/suggestions? What is the loudest low D available?

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I kinda suspect that no low whistle approaches the flexibility of the flute - you can’t adjust the angle of your air stream and you’re stuck with the design of the windway. But maybe I’m wrong :)
Just a thought, why were your hands cramping on the flute? Some people play with ‘pipers grip’ on the flute i.e. similar to low whistle so as to avoid cramping. Though that said, I went the other way .. from low whistle to flute and used pipers grip for several months before swithching to a more normal flute grip. I found with pipers grip on flute that my left thumb was under too much pressure! But lots of people play with pipers grip on flute.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Funny, but I always found the Low whistle much more inconvenient than a flute. On LW I got cramps constantly and couldn’t get used to piper’s grip either - they were the main reasons I switched to the flute.

Maybe you should not give up the flute definitely, but instead - if the problem is really bad - get the flute with offset holes, or some othe special design, that will minimize the tension in you hands.

In terms of richness of sound and expression I never heard a low whistle that could match a flute, but I guess that’s all too personal to judge.

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Same as above, I think the low whistle is both a bigger stretch and sound wise, it just does not compare with the flute. In fact I slightly despise them. But don’t worry about me.
One thing you might consider if it is the stretch that is the problem - do what I did and go back to Boehm system flute - a wooden one of course. One of the reasons I did was because I had developed an RSI in my wrist through a combination of too much computering and blackwood simple system fluting.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I appreciate all the comments re: flute versus low whistle and don’t disagree (although I don’t despise my low whistles - just my playing sometimes)

I’ve been playing an MK whistle for the past year and it is loud and responsive. The website is something like jazzwhistle.com and Misha Somerville, the maker, is very helpful and makes great instruments. Try him.

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I also have an MK whistle (as I seem to say constantly). Fantastic whistles - you won’t find better. He now has started making low Fs too and I am going to "need" to get one.

The lower octave on the MK is designed to be quite flute-like whilst the upper octave is more like a whistle. All Misha’s whistles are tuneable and are very responsive and loud. I found, with mine, that after playing for a bit the volume dropped dramatically but using a flute mop restored the volume (sorry, a bit disgusting I know! :-/)

I am currently looking for a new high D, wanting to upgrade from my Susato. Any suggestions from anyone? Michael Burke? Overton? etc?

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I have a Burke wide bore brass high D - which I like very much and is my main high whistle

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

same as Yohan.
Nice and creamy sound, well balanced - not at all shrill in the high register. Quite heavy, comparing to other whistles I played, but I personally like this feeling.

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and while I’m here…2 other whistlers tried my Burke and both appeared several weeks later with their own Burkes. Mick O’Brien is the outlet for Burke whistles in Europe and is very helpful with email enquiries etc.

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

What’s the "bite" like on the Burke - whatever that means! I was all set to buy one until someone discouraged me saying they were not overly impressed and it was too easy to overblow. I tried one briefly in a session a year or so ago and liked it. It was too brief though and I can’t remember why.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

right - all I can offer are those whistles that I’ve sessioned with - I have a Freeman tweaked generation bflat which is like a real, old generation and has decent ‘bite’. I also have an O’Briain tweaked feadog which has more bite than the Gen bflat and is great for ornamentation esp. low D crans. It loses a bit in overall tone though - it is quite rough but not unpleasant. I have (unfortunately) a new style Cheiftain high d which you really have to blast on. I don’t care for that much. My Burke fits somewhere in the middle - it takes a decent attack but you can also play quietly if you need to. The tone is rounded - not really generation-like but very well-balanced over the octaves. It can handle a medium-large session, you can blast all night on it and it also works very well on stage and in the recording studio. I played a Burke Low D and was impressed so got the high D. I find switching between the MK and Burke high is very easy and they are quite similar in terms of playability.

YMMV, caveat emptor etc etc

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Thank you very much for all that Yohan. As I said, I liked the Burke high D when I had a go of one. I will try to find one for another try but I suspect it is what I will end up getting.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Richard please, please, please try to figure out what is happening with your hands. Is it both hands?
Interesting no one has mentioned Pat O’Riordan’s Low D. That is exactly what you are looking for. The obvious problem is trying to get one.
That aside my first recommendation would be an Overton made by either Bernard or Colin. Next would be a low whistle made by Ken Matsusaka (S.Z.B.E.)
Before you give up the transverse flute altogether consider this:
I play a Ralph Sweet mezzo G fife. It is not as tiring as playing a full size flute. No, it is not a D flute but . . . you still get some of that flute sound on the (low) G. Volume is definitely good for sessions. BTW it is rosewood. After playing the Sweet for a number of years I love the range.
I have the same Low D Burke & one of Cillian’s w/ a Low C & Low D body. I love them but would still stick with my recommendations for the Overton or Ken’s plus a transverse mezzo G. If you do find two O’Riordan’s could you give me one?
Cheers

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Hi Richard,

I’m so sorry to hear of your hand problems, how awful.

I play an older Copeland brass low D that to me sound extremely flute-like. I don’t think the Burke low-D sounds very flutey at all, used to have one. Lovely sounding instruments, but very quiet and mellow compared with the Copeland.

Michael

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I’m not sure exactly what problems you’re having, but are you sure you’ve exhausted every possible treatment? In the past, I had much success with the Alexander Technique.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Sorry to hear you are giving up the flute after 30 years. Did you try playing "flat fingered" on the flute? I can play the flute with the classical grip and must do so when using soem of the the keys. but otherwise I can play with little crimping using the "flat finger" method. I thought of this because if you do start playing the low whistle you will have to use the "flat finger" method or what is known also as the pipers grip.

As for what make of low whistle to buy, i recommend the copeland. probably your best bet to get an aggressive flute sound. and simply a great instrument in its own right.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Thanks for the suggestions, and concern, and encouragement. The handwriting has been on the wall for years about my playing the flute- I could get through a gig with my Irish band because I switch between flute, whistles, and uilleann pipes so my hands got a break. But a session- no way! After three or four tunes it was pretty bad. And flute was my session horn. I always considered the flute ideal for the session because 1) you have the keys so you can handle fiddle tunes in odd keys and 2) you can vary the volume from quiet (when you’re figuring out the tune) to honking loud (when you’re leading a tune). I never liked low whistles. I always had one- an original Overton low D from the 1970’s- but I always sort of looked down my nose at them, my attitude being that they were just for people who were too lazy to learn to blow the flute! They had too big a finger stretch, took too much air, and were too quiet. But now I find myself in the position where they are my only option (other than high whistles, which I detest at sessions, and the pipes, which I’m not all that fluent on).
Anyhow, great suggestions all! Having some money from selling my flute, I’m going to but a couple different low D’s and see what’s best for me. Richard

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Oh, about trying to treat or fight my problem- if I were making my living playing flute I would go that route, but for me the flute is just one of several instruments I play Irish music on so abandoning it is no big deal. I’m of an age where I cut my losses and go with what works.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Good to hear you are willing to give the Low D a chance. I believe a good one can stand on its own merits. Comparisons to flutes might not be the best criteria. You said the flute was your session horn. Is it bad session ettiquette to have more than one instrument? I have flutes, high whistles, middle & low. The only think I have with keys in my silver flute. I switch alot between the G fife, low D, A whistle, Low C …

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I don’t know if it’s bad ettiquette, but it surely does stand out at a session when one guy shows up with enough instruments to equip the entire session! The "one man, one horn" approach seems to be the unspoken expectation. Anyhow I’ve been playing my new Burke low D ("pro viper") and as I get more used to it I find I can do a lot of things I would do on the flute, but that I thought couldn’t be done on the whistle. For example, on flutes (if the cork is at exactly the right spot) you can smoothly go from the 1st octave to the 2nd octave. What I mean is that, while maintaining the first octave note, you can gradually introduce more and more of the 2nd octave note. You reach a point where the note is 50-50, where you are playing both notes at the same time. Then you can gradually reduce the amount of the 1st octave note, until finally you are left with a pure 2nd octave note. This Burke is the first whistle I’ve played that does that. All other whistles I’ve tried have a sudden break between octaves.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

One challenge or problem with the low whistle is that it can pretty easily get drowned out. I’d say it’s ideal if your playing with, say, a fiddle and a guitar player. Once the session/volume gets much louder, you may as well be playing a pineapple because nobody can really tell the difference (well, you’d look funny playing a pineapple, but you wouldnt sound much different).

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Brendan that is exactly why I bring the mezzos. They have very nice volume control. For quieter tunes I can hold it to the 1st octave. When I really need to be heard I can use both octaves.
But on the other hand a Low whistle does not have to fade into obscurity. I can get some volume on that one too.

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I guess that would be another thread, but what’s the loudest low D whistle available?

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

the loudest I’ve played is an MK. I found it louder than a Cheiftain, Overton, Susato, Copeland, Burke - all low whistles that I’ve tried

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I’m going to be in Glasgow for 10 days this August and I’d like to meet the MK fellow and try one of his whistles.
So they are louder than Copeland or Burke, but how much air to they take? The Burke Pro Viper I recently got takes quite a bit of air. What’s great about it is that it never seems to clog with moisture like many other low whistles do.

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Quoting Richard:

"I don’t know if it’s bad ettiquette, but it surely does stand out at a session when one guy shows up with enough instruments to equip the entire session! The "one man, one horn" approach seems to be the unspoken expectation."

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Will you make it to the Friday and Saturday night sessions at the CTMS festival this weekend up at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills? I’ll toss the Copeland low-D in my pipe case.

Cheers,

Michael

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

I wouldn’t say the MK clogs with moisture but I suppose it depends how much of a drooler you are :-)

The MKs are certainly one of the loudest brands of whistle out. Misha also makes them with the express idea of the lower octave sounding more flute-like with the upper one more like a traditional whistle. They are also excellent whistles for playing in two notes at once eg a low and high g as you describe above. Don’t just buy one because it is loud - buy it because it is the best low whistle on the market!

Here is a clip of one of them being played by Scots whistle player and piper Fraser Shaw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdMmkJceGWo

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

yep - loud and a great whistle

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Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Thanks for the information. That Fraser Shaw is a terrific player, but that’s not a Low D is it? Without checking I would guess it’s F or something? But it sounds great anyway.
I emailed Misha saying that I was going to be in Glasgow for ten days this August, might I visit and but a whistle, but no response. It seems like no one has his whistles to hand.
Michael the CTMS thing is always the same weekend as the San Diego Scottish Games, which is why I had to stop teaching there when I got back into the GHB thing. Now the Irish Fair has been moved to the same weekend as well, so that now we have three different festivals with Irish music the same weekend! Brilliant!

Re: What is the most flute-like low D whistle?

Hi
I have just orderd a MK D, looking foreward to it.

I am a whislte player but have been given a flute, and althought the distance/spread seems no different, just holding the instrument at right angles seems to change all the pressure on the tendon’s e.t.c

I spotted this last night (and this post) when I do my "LOW WHISTLE" search in google to see what is out there.

http://www.ethnicwind.com/#!Chromatic Whistles|c21z5

Would that help solve the one horn problem (though not the same as the mouth control).

You do get end blow flutes though, a friend brought be one from Peru as a present

One of these

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quena

So if someone out there could comnbine the two???