tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

I’m trying to tongue the low notes on a D whistle. I almost always wind up getting the high D—I can play the notes pretty well when not trying to tongue. Is this a breathing problem?
Gerald van Belle

Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

No, it’s an intelligence problem.

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Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

hahahahaha

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shot down

Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

try getting someone to tickle yer arse with a feather whilst tounging the Low D. works for me

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Sounds like you are tonguing too hard. You shouldn’t be blowing harder after the tongue releases from the top of your mouth. . . just use the same air pressure that you would normally. Practice enunciating a "T" sound very quietly.

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wormdiet’s got the right idea. try thinking of it as a "D" and not a "T."

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Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

You’re definitely tongueing too hard. The "T" when you tongue should be less pronounced than your ordinary speech, you’re using it as a valve to make air start and stop.

The exception is in the upper few notes of the second octave and (if you can find them) the notes of the third octave, where depending on the whistle you will may need to give your tonguing that extra percussive attack in order to get a clean crisp note

Instead of actually trying to say "T" or "D", just try putting your tongue against the roof of your mouth as if you were about to say "T", then blow against it gently. You’ll find the tongue stops the air. Now relax the tongue gently and let the air come through…

For the record I primarily play high whistle, but the technique’s the same.

Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

You could think of it as a "thee".

Or you could think of it as a "thou".

Or perhaps you could think of it as a "thine".

Maybe "they", instead.

You could also simply keep practicing until you find the right groove.

In the end, despite all the theory and technical know-how, do we not have to teach ourselves?
:-/

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Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

Sorry, meant to say "…the technique’s the same for all whistles."

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P.S., Gerald -

The best of good luck.
Low whistle is just the loveliest instrument.
Hang in there.

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The OP didn’t say anything about low whistle. It must be catching.

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Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

Unvoiced ~ tuh - tuh - tuh - tuh - - -

Voiced is the ‘th’ in this & that
Unvoiced is the ‘th’ in bath & Catholic

wormdiet has it, you’re punching the breath out following the ‘t’. Place the flat of your hand in front of your mouth and work on reducing the plosive nature of your ‘t’. You don’t want blasts of air at the end of each "tuh". It’s "tuh" not "TUH!" :-P

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Whao! A lot happens when you’re baking. :-D

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My intitial reaction to this discussion was: "What’s this guy on about?"

But then I then picked up a whistle, and played a few tunes that included low "D".

I then discovered that I never actually tongued that particular note. When I tried the note with anything but the mildest toungeing, I experienced the same problem as reported by the OP.

I followed that with a little self-analysis of my own playing, and discovered that I mostly only used toungueing on the first beat of a bar - achieving expression in the other parts of the tune using cuts, rolls, slides etc.

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It’s interesting how people choose to articulate, whether with bow or tongue. I know one accomplished whistler who favours, with jigs, not tonguing the first note but tonguing the second and third of any 3 note beat, in other words ~ A.B.c. ~ tonguing B & c, as an example…

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I have received advice to avoid tonguing as much as possible from a superb whistler.

Hard to do.

The problem above is even worse playing the lower whistles like the G. Chiff becomes a squawk without tonging.

Reading this I realized I am in the ‘D’ articulation group, though a softish ‘Dh’

Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

Try Kuh instead of Tuh.

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Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

zippydw - yeah, you’ll get superb whistlers telling you to tongue as little as possible. You’ll also get superb whistlers who tongue loads. You’ll also get people who use glottal stops.

I’ve been practicing The Golden Eagle recently after it was mentioned in another topic and I’ve been tongueing the crap out of it. Seriously, tongued triplets and all. I think it sounds great. There are other tunes I barely tongue at all.

My opinion is, learn all the techniques, then you can use them or not use them as you feel like. That’s what I’m trying to do.

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Use crans.

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Pardon? Was that "crans" you said? I didn’t have my herring aid in …

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Interesting, I read the OP as "low whistle" for a start. I must be going blind.

OK, tried my fav whistle - high "D" Feadog. I can tongue all low notes fine, either running up or down. No danger of hitting the wrong D. I think your just breathing too hard when you tongue. The act of tunguing does not involve expelling air at any greater velocity than you you would to play legato. Its just a tongue movemement.

Maybe you have a faulty whistle ? - do you have the same problem on EVERY whistle you own?

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GOD, I must learn to type with something other than my fipple!! But I think you’ll get my gist.

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Gam:
"The OP didn’t say anything about low whistle. It must be catching."

Well, in truth, ALL the notes on a standard "D" whistle sound high to me, so actually, in my own defense

Naw, I blew it, and got caught.
It was not even fine print.

I must have low whistles on the brain…
:-/

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I almost never use tonguing. I can’t stand how it sounds. I’m surprised at so many people using it and giving advice about it. It sounds especially like hell on a low whistle(in my ever so humble opinion). I would try not to do it…

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I’m new to whistle playing - only started last November. I bought an Alba Q1 for my High D and an MK Kelpie for my Low and was able to Tongue the low notes using the Tuh method and they sound fine.

I just bought myself a Tuneable Goldie Low D - I just love the way they sound (one day I’ll make mine make the same noises!!!!!!!!). That whistle is so unforgiving with bad technique - when I tongue using the Tuh sound it is really noticeable as almost a squeak on the first note, once blowing though it sounds fine. So, I read this thread and tried the Th - as in This - and that seems to make a huge difference.

Oh, and what are Glottal Stops and how can I use them?

Rich

Two Glottal stops ~

"Uh-Oh"

“I have received advice to avoid tonguing as much as possible from a superb whistler.” ~ zippydw

Hmmmmm… I’d missed that bit about ‘reducing tonguing’, and it might have been from me, as I will always give that as a guide. Learn to play a tune without any tonguing what so ever, and if you have to divide two like notes, use a cut or a tip, but DON’T TONGUE!!! And ‘why’ would I suggest this? Because you want to eventually get control of the tonguing by choice not by necessity. It’s great, as is having to breath with winds, it gives you something to work with as a variation, as interest, one of several ways to play with a melody, to articulate it, and to also vary other ornaments, such as tonguing and not tonguing the various species of rolls. So, DON’T TONGUE. Learn to play the music without it, and come back to it later. Also, the tongue is used as a cheat for sloppy fingering. If you get the tonguing out of the way you’ll hear other problems that need addressing. Get crisp fingering, learn to articulate with that and with ornamentation, then have fun trying the endless possible combinations you can do bringing the tongue into the mix.

But, unreservedly, first learn good fingering and don’t tongue at all. It shouldn’t be a necessity, it should be a free choice…

Correction: "if you have to divide two like tunes" ~ should have read ~ if you have to divide two like ‘notes’

It’s late! ;-)

Stereo! I just saw I’d already made that correction… I did say it’s late! :-D Pleasant dreams all…

Re: tonguing low notes on the tin whistle

The great whistle players I listen to tongue a lot of notes… even the low ones.

Yes, read it again… They choose what they do. But the argument about ‘a lot’ is another issue, some do, yes, and some do little… But the suggestion wasn’t to NOT TONGUE, it was to get control of the specifics first, especially fingers. Having taught a LOT of beginners, the tongue is a constant and sloppy way to cover up bad fingering…

Tonguing adds all kinds of possibilities for articulation and to add interest, as does not tonguing, and taking a breath ~ after the basics are mastered, and when it’s ‘free choice’ and not a necessity…

~ & also the low ones…

& trebbling…

tuh-kuh-tuh ~ :-P

Brain fried! ~ I’d also meant to say ~ and to cover up octave and interval jumps, so putting the tonguing aside to concentrate on both finger and breath control, then bringing the tonguing back in for all the possible variations of interest in can add, and fun…

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I think Americans tend to think about not tonguing in Irish music because many of us come from musical traditions where tonguing is much more prevelant (like American fife playing, for example). So we spend our time learning to reduce the amount of tonguing we do. And some people get carried away, and try to do away with it altogether, which is not advisable either.

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I was told to not tongue any notes when I first started whistle… worst advice I ever had. You have to understand the mechanics of triplets… but that doesn’t mean you don’t tongue any notes. I tongue notes all over the shop now.

different for flute and whistle

I learned like Ceolachan said, no tonguing at first and let it flow naturally into my playing as I’ve learned. great to add pops and to acccent rolls. On the flute there’s the glottals and the "K" sound, but these are clumsy for me on the whistle.

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I always tell my students to mark the ornaments I teach them with the tongue. Tonguing doesn’t mean you still aren’t doing proper fingering on the ornaments… it just sharpens them up. Glottal articulation don’t work on the whistle because they effect pitch.

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Jack, sounds like you’re pretty insistent on this particular aspect of teaching. If I’m not mistaken I’d say you’re strongly opposed to ceolachan’s approach. Are you?

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Everyone is free to pursue whatever they think is best. I’m just saying that my experience has been, and what I observed, indicates that tonguing is an essential feature of the whistle and one should learn it from the start as the piece it is that fits into everything one would want to know about whistle playing.

To tongue or not to tongue, and why ~ and why not 8-)

"tonguing is an essential feature of the whistle" ~ PB

NOTHING except melody and rhythm is an ‘essential’ feature of the whistle. I’ve heard the same thing about ‘rolls’ and all kinds of other bits and pieces. It’s free choice, and there is some damned fine playing without it, or with VERY little of it, as by some very famous pipers who depend on their fingering for their articulation. It is free choice, and if someone doesn’t choose to tongue, or lay it on thick, or to roll, that makes their playing distinct, as does the personal choices and styles of tonguing for the likes of Micho Russell, Josie McDermott, Sean Smyth, Geraldine Cotter, Julie Fowlis ~ etc. If it were as proscribed as you suggest, a ‘must’, the music would end up sounding like the results so prevalent in poor recorder teaching in schools, or, heaven forbid, James Galway… :-P

A discussion came up ages back about older whistle recordings being predominantly tongue led ~ they aren’t… It’s mixed… But it’s not necessary and some damned fine playing can be done without it, or with very little of it. AND, tonguing ALL ornaments is another dogma that has little place in the freedom of choice tradition allows to make things personal. Both tongued and not tongued are useful and offer alternatives. Bless variety, and bless free choice…

In teaching anything it is good to challenge the student to try different things, including to tongue or not to tongue, and then allow them, once they gain that understanding and appreciation, to make their own choices.

Problems with tonguing, as that’s where this started, if not a faulty instrument, are rooted in breath control. One way to master that is to first get the tongue out of the way, in my opinion. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t also teach tonguing. The reason for getting it out of the way for some things, is to better appreciate tonguing, and fingering, and fingered ornamentation, and breath, and ~ the end focus and goal is to do it with understanding so that it’s a choice, not a NECESSITY or a DOGMA, either way…

~ to challenge the student and to have fun doing it, to not take things too seriously, so that the humour remains in the playing, something that some folks lose track of, often through competition, sometimes through competition, or learning just the tune in workshops where quantity can sometimes dominate over quality and understanding… Like with anything, in general, less is more… :-D

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What I’m still wondering about is where I’m reading. "I always tell my students to mark the ornaments I teach them with the tongue. Tonguing doesn’t mean you still aren’t doing proper fingering on the ornaments… it just sharpens them up."
PB, this sounds like you’re saying when you teach fingered ornaments you always teach them to be played w/tonguing as a part of the ornament. When you said ‘always’ I’m assuming this means from the first time you teach a beginner about fingered ornaments. Wouldn’t learning fingered articulations w/out the tongue be useful for a beginner? When I began learning ornaments I wanted to develop the timing & dexterity of my fingers on cuts & strikes. It seemed to help me hear what the fingers could do by themselves if I wasn’t tonguing those articulations.

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