Dear Friends,

I would like to know If there are rules about the way to make ornaments on the tunes by playing with the tin whistle?
What are the ornaments usually played?
Thank you very much


Re: Ornaments

There are some good lessons on ornamention on the site www.whistletutor.com.

Also, you can find lots of stuff on youtube. A guy called Ryan Duns (I think) has lots of whistle tutorial videos on there.

Also, it’s worth looking up ‘tradlessons’ on youtube - there are lots of good whistle tutorial videos posted there too and they include some ornamentation.

The first ornaments you’ll probably learn are the ‘cut’ and the ‘tap’, which can be combined to form a ‘roll’ (this takes a little bit of practice).

Hope this helps…

Re: Ornaments

Practise the basics (cuts, taps, rolls etc.) conscientiously, playing tunes fairly slowly and above all steadily, so you get into the habit of playing with sound rhythm and intonation while incorporating the ornaments - these three things are the essentials of whistle-playing.

Obviously, speed up once you’re up to it, and go on to other whistle tricks - crans, slides and whatever. They’ll become second nature.

Brother Steve’s Tin Whistle Pages is another good site, as far as I can see.

That’s my tuppence worth, anyway.

Re: Eamonn Cotter on Ornaments

Eamonn Cotter is a respected flute player from Co Clare. He is the brother of Geraldine Cotter, who has written a very helpful whistle tutor.
Eamonn said: "With ornamentation, practice that on its own. Make sure you have the right fingering and the right technique first, and practice slowly and build your speed up. Put very few rolls in jigs, because when you put a roll in a jig it takes up half a bar — and you’re losing a lot of the basic tune. In a lot of ways it’s a question of taste. Cranning, well, it’s advisable to stay away from it in a lot of ways: it’s very hit and miss, it’s a piping ornament really and it’s very hard. It can work out fine at the back of the stage, but when you go out to perform it — you know… And that’s a common feature with that ornamentation. I think in recordings… I’m sure there’s some editing done to get in the cranning — it just doesn’t work out when you want it to work."

Re: Ornaments

Thanks cocus, I enjoyed that…

‘Ornaments’ are not a necessity or a requirement and would be best if not an expectation. They are many and varied and can be quite individual, in the real world. They are, in my mind and experience, better as a choice, ‘free choice’, a bit of salt and pepper with the steak of music, not the same steak buried in marzipan, wedding icing and sugar do-dahs. There have been many players that have made do without the standardized expectations. They are better when they increase appreciation for the melody and the dance in that melody, or when they surprise, add interest without taking away too much from the melody or the dance.

You don’t have to play rolls, or crans, for two examples, and good music has been and can be made without either…

Re: Ornaments

Wise words C,

And the other C…. I thought these words from Eamonn were relevant too;

>>.Every aspect of Irish music should be practiced separately. To play reels for an hour or two in the evening isn’t going to make a good flute player; you have to practice each aspect of flute playing. In my classes, I emphasise the physical aspects of it — the use of the diaphragm, power, stamina, and how you can play for three or four hours and not end up on the floor. Play a note for as long as you can to build up your diaphragm. <<

Re: Ornaments

More wisdom!

A very fine flute player and friend, in the Sliabh Luachra/Limerick tradition, developed emphysema. He still managed to play, if in a very distinct style, with lots of breaths taken ~ in places where it added rhythmic interest to the melody and the dance in it… He deserved to be recorded and be better known beyond his immediate community but that never happened. His personal way with the music, because of the severe damage to his lungs, became unique, unusual, but was still beautiful, got your toes tapping…

Re: Ornaments

From "A Gude to the Irish Flute"


"All flute players can learn from listening to great flute players without trying to sound just like them. As the haiku poet Basho wrote, "don’t follow in the footsteps of the masters; seek what they sought."

This of course aplies to all instruments.

Chef P

Re: Ornaments

What’s a "Gude"?

Re: Ornaments

You could use a pair of little alabaster horses, dark green if possible, to place on the mantelpiece near where you are playing.
Of course, you couldn’t actually make these whilst playing, but it would certainly break the ice at parties (or the mantelpiece).


Posted by .

Re: Ornaments

Thanks Martin. Always glad to learn.

Re: Ornaments

Thank you yery much Guys!!
About Ornamentations I wish to play them as Brian Finnegan from Flook… 🙂