Hello Out There

Hello Out There

Just wanted to say hi to everyone out there. I’m a 24 y/o fifer w/ the Old Gaurd fife and drum corp with a lengthy background in traditional military style music. I’ve always been interested in irish/folk music and have always messed around with whistles and various instruments but I’ve never actually taken the time out to learn the proper techniques of this style. I’ve got many friends that like to play whistles/flutes, mandolins and fiddles and they’ve really peaked my interest as of late. So the biggest difference between a fife and a whistle it seems to me, is ornamentation and that’s what I’ve been really working at. I seem to be doing alright but if anyone has any suggestions or tips, I’d appreciate it. I can do the taps, cuts and rolls(although theres room for improvement) but sometimes I think my placement is off. I feel I over do it a lot but then I listen to others and they use just as much ornamentation only it sounds better. Maybe it just all comes with practice.

Re: Hello Out There

Welcome to The Session! I’m not a whistle player myself, and I’m sure they’ll chime in. Anyway, the more you listen to the stuff, the more you’ll hear how the ornamentation feels and moves and is used. It will feel more natural once you’ve gotten the exact feel under your fingers. Listening, the old saw goes, IS practicing in Irish music, so listen to it ‘til it’s coming out through your fingers.

Have fun!

Re: Hello Out There

I was never a fifer myself, but after listening to fife music frequently during my youth, when I first picked up a whistle, I approached it like a fife. You can still recognize the first whistle tunes I learned by the way I play them—heavy fife influence.
The biggest difference in the styles, other than adding the ornaments, is taking out one of the hallmarks of fifing—stop tounging! While people do use their tounges in Irish music, they use them MUCH less than in the fife tradition. So try to play without tounging, and use the ornaments like cuts, etc, to break up the notes.
This is overly simplistic, but it is a good starting point in working toward the different style.
Most of all, listen, listen, listen!

Re: Hello Out There

Coming to flute and whistle from fiddle, I’ve found one key to getting the rolls to sound right is to make them more even: "DAH BLAH BLAH" rather than one long note followed by a blur of cuts and taps: "DAH diddelee."

Another thing that helps get an "authentic" sound is to use glottal stops (literally stopping the air flow in the back of your throat as you do when initiating a cough). Placed immediately before a short roll, or to separate two notes of the same pitch, glottal stops create a sense of space, so all the notes aren’t packed in tight next to each other.

Finally, be careful not to overuse rolls and other ornaments—unless you’re after sounding like Molloy. Lots of great fluters rely less on rolls and more on leaning into phrases with their breath, pulsing with the diaphragm to create a danceable rhythm, and good strong tone to carry the tunes.

Posted .

Re: Hello Out There

I’ll emerge from the woodwork of lurkdom here to suggest a nice resource for whistle technique: http://www.rogermillington.com/siamsa/brosteve/
For some excellent listening there be sure not to miss the clips of wonderful pure drop playing accompanied by brief stylistic commentary: http://www.rogermillington.com/tunetoc/index.html

Also, if you have time to burn and want to talk whistles, http://www.chiffandfipple.com/messageboard.html

Cheers,
wol

Posted by .