Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Hello. I own a standard issue Hohner recorder in C. I’m from Venezuela so I’ve never seen a tin whistle, but I’m buying one in USA because I hate the fingering of the recorder. I mean, THUMB HOLE?! What the heck??

But I was wondering about the difference in sound between a recorder and a whistle. I’m suspecting that when I finally get my whistle I’ll find out that it sounds the same as a recorder, just with a different fingering, and that all the differences lie in the playing technique. I’ve only listened to recordings and they sound almost identical to me, but albums always have reverb, compresor and stuff.

BTW I’m getting a Walton’s Little Black D.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Have fun with your whistle. A lot of ITM musicians pour scorn on recorders, rightly or wrongly, so be warned!

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

The sound is really quite different to my ears. I think you’ll find the experience quite different.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

The shape of the embrouchure hole is quite different on the whistle compared to the recorder- also the fact that your recorder is made from wood will mean it has a hugely different tone from any whistle that you get. However, I agree with Bellman that the experience of playing whistle v. recorder is really different. See how you go with the Walton’s, I find them quite difficult to get a strong sound out of- you can’t blow to hard down them. if you want to get a nice but cheap whistle, you can’t go past Generations.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

A lot will depend on what kind of whistle you get. Some whistles are made of plastic and will have a sound that is somewhat like a recorder. but most whistles are made of some sort of metal, usually brass, and thus have a unique timbre. in any case, you will certainly be able to find out and judge for yourself.

sometime i would like to try playing the recorder—a good one—in the irish idiom just for kicks.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

It’s really hard! The F#s and high Ds are a real pain to get around on the recorder

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

If you find you want a more recorder-like sound to your whistle, perhaps try a Susato.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

I would say the recorder is a more versatile instrument than the whistle as it has a greater range of key possibilities, which makes it adaptable to more musical genres… classical, jazz, you name it. However, the tone and fingering (as sneetch says) of the recorder make it less suitable to Irish music than the whistle. If you want to dabble in various sorts of music, then the recorder might be a good choice, but if you want principally to be a player of Irish music, the whistle is by far the better choice. Get a few different whitles to try. Many good players prefer a cheap whistle (eg a Generation or a Clarkes) to expensive hand made ones. Sometimes you have to pick a good whistle by playing through a batch 30 different ones…all may look the same, but the sound will be different. Some music shops will let you do this! I appreciate that this last point may not be too useful in Venezuela!

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

The characteristic timbre of the recorder is due mainly to the fact that the recorder has a thick walls and a narrow, conical bore. A whistle made in the same way would have a similar timbre, regardless of fingering system. But most whistles are relatively thin-walled and wide-bored (although either straight or conical), and consequently sound different from a recorder, irrespective of whether they are made of metal, wood, plastic or resin.

I disagree that a plastic whistle, like a Susato, sounds more like a recorder. Plastic recorders tend to have a harsher, more ‘plasticky’ sound than their wooden counterparts - and plastic whistles shre this plasticky harshness with them. But a well played wooden recorder - and even some of the better plastic ones - can sound beautiful and by no means harsh.

Orlando - Since you already play the recorder, I think it would be a noble pursuit to adapt your existing skills to irish music. I would recommend getting your hands on a whistle as an aid to understanding traditional style and ornamentation and to help ‘unlock’ the music for you. But there is no need to abandon the recorder in favour of the whistle - there are too few players that do this instrument justice, in any style of music.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Typically whistles have more chiff than recorders. To my ear a lot of recorders sound almost electronic in the purity of their tone. I think that Reenactor’s point is that the Susatos have a similar kind of tone — and I’d agree with that. To my ear, the Susato is the most recorder-like whistle.

I actually find recorders refreshing in a session, simply because they do sound a little different from the whistles.

As far as simplicity of playing goes, just tape over the thumb-hole and ignore the lowest holes on the recorder, and it’s the same as the whistle (assuming cross-fingering the Cnat works on your recorder — it doesn’t on all).

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

I play both and find that the whistle does more for ITM. I have a wood recorder. Granted it is more flexible as far as having virtual full ability to play whatever key you need (thanks to the thumb hole).

But the warmth that is characteristic to the recorder sound is much better provided with a flute. Particularly when you get into the C recorder. Same kind of knock you hear aabout low whistles, If you want a flute sound….get a flute.

Hope that helps

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Hi,

I have been playing first the recorder for more than 10 years. It’s right to play music from middle age to XVIII and XX.
But for MIT you need tin or low whistle.
fingering is easier and you can play ornementation you can’t play on a recorder (roll, cran…).On recorder it is very difficult to tongue almost all notes and to control your breath. In MIT you don’t have to do it so much. but it’s another virtuosity.

they are two different instruments like organ and piano or bouzouki and guitar but if you play recorder it will be easier to learn TW.

sorry for my english

best regards

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Susato do "wide bore" recorders that look very like whistles which could be useful for those recorder players who can’t stand the opprobrium!

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

How do they explain the thumb hole, Chadmills? Woodworm?

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Hmmm, I don’t notice much difference doing crans or rolls on recorder vs whistle, but I don’t play either very much anymore. I think the recorder is a good instrument for ITM. If recorders had been as cheap as whistles, they would’ve been incorporated into the tradition long ago. We have a variety of squeeze boxes accepted. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have more of the flute family.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Speaking as a whistle player I’d be the first to promote the tin whistle anyways, but I actually started on the recorder and moved from there to the tin whistle and I found the tone to be a lot better with the tin whistle. That being said, my recorder only cost me about ten bucks and it was hardly a professional one. Also, as was said earlier on in this thread, recorder would be a better instrument if you wanted to dabble in all kinds of different music styles because it’s a lot easier to play in a lot of different keys, but if you were going to dedicate a lot of time and energy into ITM I’d go with a tin whistle because of the fingerings and tone.
Good luck with it all,
Dan

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Well, thanks for all your answers. When my whistle finally arrives I’ll tell you how it goes.

I think it’s important to keep the traditions. If ITM is tin whistle, then whistle be it! Where I live there is a trad genre called "Gaita" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaita_%28music_style%29

It was originally played with furros, maracas, cuatro, charrasca and tambora drum. Then they started replacing the cuatro with guitars, then electric guitars. They said "Hey, why don’t we also add a bass?". Then followed with synths and trumpets, and now it doesn’t sound anything like it was before. It’s only a shadow of was it used to be. A real shame.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

synthesized music. Yuck

What’s the purpose? Computerized technique always perfect. Lets wonks who have no musical talent or sense of what the music is about replace live folks who might get paid for their music.

Great for car ads and beer commercials…….

What will the ad world do for background when there is no more original music because it was all replaced by rap and punk and they run out of Beatles and Stones knock-offs to play in the ads.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Oi, I think it’ll be a sad day in advertising when that happens. ;-)

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

“A real shame.”

Why? As long as the traditional stuff survives in decent health, does it matter if other people prefer the plasticized stuff? If the trad stuff is in real danger of dying out, then that would be a shame.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

orlandor,

I recommand you to visit www.benoitsauve.net
you’ll see what can be played with a recorder.
I hope you’ll agree with me.
Jazz is OK,
MTI is not very good and classical is rather bad.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

emelinebel,

Classical music is "rather bad" on the recorder? There are heaping piles of dead composers who might disagree. Also,both tunes that are "classical" on your link are O’Carolan tunes, I think.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

I hate recorders, they have a horrible tone. They should be used for classical music which is what they where made for NOT ITM. Nothing sounds better than a decent wooden whistle.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

reenactor, sorry I explain what I meant
I said that benoit Sauvé is a good player in jazz but the way he plays ITM and classical music with his recorder is not good.
I do play recorder, and I know how it must sound when playing "classical "music! it is not like Benoit does!

visit www.benoitsauve.com

ricthewhistle,
I bought a good tin whistle in aluminium about 100 euros to play ITM
and a good alto recorder made of wood about 2000 euros to play other musics
If you’re talking about 20 euros recorders, I agree with you.

You’re right : ITM with a tin whitle.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

“I hate recorders, they have a horrible tone. They should be used for classical music which is what they where made for NOT ITM. Nothing sounds better than a decent wooden whistle.”

Ummm, were fiddles made for ITM? Accordions? Banjos? Flutes? The fiddle, the recorder and the six-hole wooden flute were standard instruments of baroque “classical” music.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Nick Dennerley, Manchester, absolutely sh#t hot on the recorder at ITM, as he would tell you himself. This man was good. He might still be, haven’t seen him in years.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Actually, I ‘d love for someone to take the recorder to virtuoso heights in ITM. It’ll happen. Maybe soon. Maybe Mary Bergin will do it.

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

Emelinebel,

Ok, I see what you’re saying, and agree wholeheartedly :-)

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

I’ve never seen an Irish band playing recorders, most of them seem to play Chris Abel whistles or another good make. Nuff said!
Ric

Re: Tin Whistle vs. Recorder

I know this is an old post, but one that resonates with me, so I hope it’s ok if I add my fifty cents :)
Being from Germany, I realise I can’t have any real insight into Irish Traditional Music, although I try to listen widely. I started out as a recorder player and have played for years in a group that was dedicated to Early Music - and that, by the way, is what the recorder as we know it today really was made for: early Renaissance polyphony and consort music, evolving into a highly sophisticated solo instrument in the baroque period, when it was held in almost the same esteem as the violin. It never made it into the classical period though, because of its limitations in dynamics - as with a whistle, you can’t really do forte and piano on a recorder without affecting pitch, but flexible dynamics became more and more important then, so the traverse flute slowly took over and the recorder was all but lost, surviving only in some regions (Bohemia for instance) as a folk instrument, until Arnold Dolmetsch built new recorders, using surviving historical recorders as models, and started a whole new recorder revival, which had some unfortunate results, like the misguided notion that the recorder is an easy starter instrument for kids, which it is in a certain sense - you can produce a note instantly – but in others really isn’t – it takes great skill and practice to produce a BEAUTIFUL note and most players don’t get there in the first place. Yet another result, though, was a real revival of Early Music and its historically informed performance which gets stronger every year. But, as many of the instruments used in ITM have their origin in European classical music, the recorder just doesn’t have a place in it. However: that doesn’t mean that it can’t at all suit the character of Irish Traditional Music. If played skilfully, it has a sweet yet stable tone not too far removed from that of a tin whistle, maybe a bit more mellow, but then that also depends on what kind of recorder you use and on the individual player. It’s incredibly versatile, has a great range and comes in different pitches and tone colours, just as whistles do. A tenor recorder sounds very different from a soprano or sopranino one. It can be played at virtuoso levels just like the whistle - maybe better, because semitones are much more easier to play. Just because no Irish band uses recorders, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good idea to give it a go.
I’ve recently founded a humble little duo with my guitarist friend; we play mostly songs but also a few set tunes and yes, I do play whistle but I also use my huge recorder collection to play Irish music on – and we think it sounds great, even if purists will cry sacrilege. But in my book, music isn’t about being purist, but about having fun and playing great music. By the way, American songwriter/musician Erutan released a great CD last year with a wonderful mix of Renaissance pieces and Irish tunes and makes heavy use of her recorders, also of a hammered dulcimer which I know many purists frown upon. Check it out, it’s one of my favourite albums!

Posted by .