driving rhythms on a whistle

driving rhythms on a whistle

I am relatively new to this site and as such apologise in advance if a similar discussion has been posted previously.

Anyway. I play the whistle and mainly confine my learning of tunes to those that I believe sound good on either the whistle or flute. Recently I have been re-evaluating my technique with respect to melodic variation of tunes. I have always made a point when learning a tune to alter the phrasing by changing breathing points each play through.

However, I quite like the driving rhythm flute players can get on jigs, and am trying to convert this to the whistle. The main focus has been leaning (read blowing a little harder) on the first note on each group of three. It seems to work. Jig tunes I am trying this on include the Leitrim Fancy, Rolling Waves 1 and 2, Trip to Killavel. Am also trying on the reel - For sakes of old decency.

Does anybody else have a technique(s) I could try for emulating this rhythm? One thing I have learnt is that leaning into the notes sure does give the diaphragm/abdomen a work out.

Thanks
Simon

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Well some Northern flute players eg.Desi Wilkinson, Fintan Vallely, Laurence Nugent articulate the whistle with glottal stops (more commonly used on flute) and this gives it a really driving effect. Not everyone likes this approach though. Either that or you can work on the fluency of your tonguing. Perhaps you can give us some examples of whose driving rhythm you’re trying to absorb into your whistling so that we can get a better picture of the effect you’re trying to achieve.

As for emphasis on notes in tunes, you can try a lighter emphasis on the first note in the bar of a jig, and a heavier emphass on the 4th note. I do notice that Harry Bradley does this on his first CD when he does jigs. Also bear in mind that there isn’t one set way to accent/tongue your jigs and some people do differently tonguing patterns to achieve different phrasings and effects.

Eld

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Thanks for your reply, Eld. I was aware that there are different methods for accenting jigs and some jigs just beg for that lazy, rolling feeling. I wish to develop a driving feeling more for variety in playing than to play all tunes in this way.

Fintan Vallely gave a seminar in Melbourne a few years back. I was a raw beginner at that stage and much of what he said did not sink in. I do remember him mentioning glottal stops and leaning into certain notes. You are on the right track in mentioning the playing of Messrs. Vallely and Nugent in the effect I am after. Another flute player to add is Patsy Hanly.

Hope this helps. Once again, many thanks.

Simon

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

What most of these northern flute players do on the whistle is play and articulate as if they were playing the flute/fife. They articulate just about all the notes to varying extents with glottal stops. (basically done by saying "uh" but without the vocalisation) They might tongue forcefully as well, like Nugent. If you’re really interested in this kind of playing and the said flute players you might like to take up the flute one day anyway. The effect is definitely more obvious there.

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

On the GHP to give Jigs a good drive I tend to accent (grace) notes 1,3, 4, 6, with 1 being stronger (Doubling/Short Role),
If you want to give it an African Polyrhythmic feel try 1,3,4,5.

All the best PP

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Maybe try using the diaphgram a little bit to *pulse* the notes. Even pulsing the same note three times in a row to make it stick out sounds pretty cool. That’s what I do for reels on the last note of the bar on occasions. However don’t do it all the time because to much of that will make your whistle playing sound like a genetically engineered chicken heart gone berserk.

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

All the above advice is sound. The best exponent of the style of playing you’re talking about - on the whistle - in my opinion, is Desi Wilkinson. He did a whistle duet with Neil Martin on the first CD he did with the trio "Cran". I think the tunes were "The Copperplate - Earl’s Chair - and Creamer’s". That’s the best recorded example I can come up with. Great "lift" and "drive" to the music. It makes even me want to get up and dance !

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Listen to any recording of Willie Clancy on the whistle - there are not many, but McKennas Reels on ‘The Pipering of Willie Clamcy Vol.I’ is a good example. Despite having a very fluid ‘piping’ style of whistle playing, he uses a combination of tight cuts and taps, leaning into notes (and occasional tonguing) to create a great rhythmic drive - and that from a man with a weak heart.

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

I find it hard to play the whistle while I’m driving, heh heh

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

A whistle playing friend says it’s the other way around….it’s hard to drive when you’re playing whistle. He should know—he commutes 140 miles roundtrip (all 4-lane interstate) to our local session, hands on the whistle and knees on the steering wheel. Yikes!

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Thanks everyone for the advice. I will try it out and maybe post the results in the future. BTW - I only play the whistle when stopped at a red traffic light on the way to and from work. Some of the expressions on the face of people in other cars when they seem me playing is priceless.

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

I play my Deger Electronic Pipes using earphones on the bus, and a get some very odd looks.
It’s great for freaking out the scrotes, I just walk right to the back seat of the bus (their habitual lair) sit down and start playing, and they don’t know what to do.
All the best
PP

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

According to Hammy Hamilton’s "The Irish Flute Player’s Handbook" (should be made compulsory for all flute players - even Boehm system), you get good rhythm articulation by "coughing" rather than tonguing, but that’s into the flute, and that’s what I try & do. I reckon the same would work for the whistle I’m not conscious of how I play that - in fact I’ll try to do it consciously at tonight’s session, and report back. Hamilton goes to considerable length to discourage tonguing the flute altogether, to distinguish the traditional player from the classical player.

Danny.

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

Reporting back - it’s difficult not to tongue the whistle. The coughing method really is just a flute technique.

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

if you are tonguing the whistle then you may find it useful to learn to double-tongue. I am a very experienced recorder/whistle player and tongue both instruments using - d-g-d-g articulation. If you say ‘d-d-d-d’ to yourself then say ‘d-g-d-g’ you should find that ‘d-g-d-g’ is easier. This will allow you to articulate 2 notes with one tongue movement - making it possible to create rhythmic interest and also to play more quickly and more fluidly. try it - it might help

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Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

When I don’t want to disrupt the tune so much I tongue a triplet like this "du-dle-du" keeping the tounging all on the tip of the tongue. It’s a soft d though, on the ‘dle’ part keep the tip of your tongue up on the roof of the mouth & let the air come through on the sides like if you were saying diddle or huddle without actually pronouncing the d. If that makes any sense

Re: driving rhythms on a whistle

I am trying Eldarions suggestion of a lighter emphasis on the first note of the bar and then a heavier emphasis on the fourth note. His suggestion triggered a memory recall from a talk that Fintan Vallely gave. He mentioned to try using breath emphasis, instead of tonguing, to separate two of the same notes. Your diaphragm gets a good work out on this method.

An example of this method is given on Brother Steve’s website. You need to go to the transcriptions section of the web page. There is an MP3 file and sheet music of Joe Bane playing the jig Shandon Bells on a D whistle. Joe gets a great rhythm going using breath emphasis on the 2nd beat (fourth note) of this tune.

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