Considering the neighbours?

Considering the neighbours?

There have been discussions of late regarding loudness of ITM instruments or how one can hear oneself play within a session. Does anyone ever consider moderating their volume when practicing at home? Why you may ask? Well, I have recently considered this after my wife commented that she could hear me play from our neighbour’s place.

Let me set the scene. We live in a house built in the late 1800’s. This Victorian style of house has shared common boundary walls. Hence, I live in close proximity to my neighbours. We have learnt over time that there are certains sounds that can be heard on occassion through walls. As examples a telephone answering machine or some coughing. For those thinking about it - I cannot say that I’ve heard the ol’ horizontal folk dancing. BTW my neighbours on either side are fantastic and I could not ask for better.

Anyway on this particular day I was belting out a few tunes on the whistle. My wife on her return said that she could hear my playing through the wall. She was unable to say how clear or how loud my playing sounded. Perhaps she just wanted me to shutup. Since then I have taken to considering my neighbours when I play - hence I attempt to moderate my playing volume.

These techniques have included - mainly playing my "quietest" whistle for most tunes, playing my louder whistles on tunes predominately with notes in the lower octave, not playing tunes with too many notes above octave G (this is not a big deal as I find tunes with alot of high A’s and B’s grating irrespective of whether they are played on a cheap or expensive whistle), covering the air way to "deaden" the sound in a Joanie Madden Songs of the Irish Whistle effect, not playing after early evening, not playing for more than half an hour. You probably get the jist.

A drawback to this consideration when practicing at home could be the erosion of my enjoyment of playing ITM. THere may be other negative aspects. Anyone else had a similar experience or needed to moderate their volume?

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

Luckily for me, harp is easy to play quietly without feeling like you are being too stifled. And most people do not complain about hearing the harp—they usually say they like hearing it. Fiddle on the other hand is a different story. Some days I take it into work early and practice before everyone else gets there. Practicing outside in a park or something is another option, but only if you don’t mind drawing a bit of a crowd at times.

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

if you really wanted to practice more perhaps getting a whistle in a flatter key, like a c might not carry through the walls as the higher whistles? you may find you never want to go back to D though!

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Would it sound terribly smug if I said the only comment I ever had from neighbours about my whistle playing was how nice it sounds?

Yes it would wouldn’t it.

Tunes on the banjolin - I usually play these on mandolin until they are up to a presentable standard before unleashing the louder instrument, and then play in the room least likely to transmit sounds to neighbours. Dammit - they don’t buy me any beer, so why should they get the pleasure?

Stop reading here if I have told you this before: In the early days of playing the banjolin my father in law remarked "You’re getting quite good at that aren’t you - it’s a pity it makes such a dreadful noise."

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Yeah, I have that problem a lot. Never mind my fiddle playing, but my downstairs neighbour even complains about my footsteps. I now do not wear shoes in my house ever. I do not think I am being unreasonable with my fiddling and never play after 9.30pm or before 10am. I also always use a mute - but still she complains! I even make sure I am standing on rugs so the noise does not go straight through the floorboards. It’s got so bad that I now have to take my fiddle and drive to my mums house if I ever want to practice. What a pain. Maybe I should just move house?

Re: Considering the neighbours?

As the old joke goes "Another good way to annoy them is to set fire to their dustbins" 🙂

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Years ago I had to shut up playing alltogether over
the complaints, t’wasen’t because I was too loud no, t’was
because I could not play at all; and I sounded better than
I do today, but I would get even with the devil’s
shtick with an electric guitar which I had bought
secondhand. Now on that you could drive em wild,
playing the boogie woogie and turn on the vibrato
on the foot pedal at will.

One day an accident happened and the end fell off the
TW about which I was most upset; so fixing it I strapped
a piece of sticky tape around the cracked plastic
bit and not realizing I had covered the exhaust I shlapped
it back on the pipe. Then frantic with fear that I had
ruined my prized stick, tried to play a few notes.

First off the fipple was on back to front, so my fingers
were on the back, and second I had blocked the exhaust
off so no air could get out. Right says I, turning it
about my fingers on the holes and cutting off a bit
of tape again I shtarted and be haz zzeus didn’t
she whimper like a wee bairn so full of porter the
lungs would not inflate.

Didn’t occur to me til later that I had found a way
to mute a whistle and some years later I went about that
with planning and a scissors.

Official Consumers DIY Home Service Pack V 1s.hI.t
Heat pot of water and insert TW fipple, twisting
reverse it on the stick. Carefully wrap a piece of
cellotape around the fipple losely covering the
exhaust. Try it and adjust the wrapping to lower or
raise the tone and/or volume.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

I live in a renovated Victorian house in Boston, and we have weekly house sessions…not to mention I’m practicing all the time for school. I use a heavy rubber pratice mute on my fiddle and I found that I can play through the night without disturbing a soul. My landlord, who lives upstairs, has never complained about the sessions. In fact she confessed that herself and her husband like to sit in the kitchen (which is directly above ours) and listen to us playing on Thursday nights. I do get annoyed when my roommate practices banjo in his room (directly above mine) and I can hear his foot-tapping through the ceiling…but I just ask him to take off his shoes, and the problem is solved.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Simon, if you can’t hear the horizontal folk dancing, try putting a glass against the wall and putting your ear against it. Things should become crystal clear. Or if you are not scared of heights, get up on the roof and dangle a microphone down the chimney. If it is winter use a cheaper mic, on account of the likelyhood of them having a fire going.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

good advice that - I tend to find that using an old fishing rod works very well for dangling the mic. The police did ask me what I was doing one night but I told them it was ok as I had a licence…

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

Don’t forget that a rod licence permits the use of two rods simultaneously, so why not use the other to check out the neighbour on the other side at the same time?

Re: Considering the neighbours?

When P

Re: Considering the neighbours?

All good advice. I particularly like the posts regarding eavesdropping on my neighbours activities.

From what I gather the neighbours do not mind my playing. I am just wary of over doing it and thus reducing their tolerance.

Regarding a whistle in a flatter key. I have managed to find a good C whistle, but am still trying to find a Bflat that plays well in the upper octave.

Cheers all.

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

I have heard of some people inserting paperclips into their whistles to act as some kind of mute, but I haven’t tried it and I imagine the tone would be woeful.

I also live in a terrace in Melbourne. What we really need to do is to line them up side by side. We’ll have a bit of duelling whistles through the wall action, a bit of subliminal tune learning as one of sleeps as the other practices. I’m sure there is plenty of other terrace based whistlers, let’s see how many we can line up.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

I have an understanding with my neighbours - they have parties where they play kylie Minogue over and over and Abba etc, I play the fiddle when ever and as loud as I like. It works out for all involved🙂

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

Duelling whistles muted by a wall - brilliant idea. How far do you need to relocate your place? I am in Northcote. However, I may be swayed to move to your suburb. That makes two in the line.

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

I must confess that I consider myself very spoiled, as our solid brick house is located behind a shop, with non-residential buildings on either side, and behind us is a church, so no one ever complains about the noise (which is great since my husband is learning sax and I recently took up the trumpet).

It is a luxury to be able to practice my concertina well into the night without fear of annoying anyone…. (my husband is incredibly patient and supportive).

Regards
Morgana

Re: Considering the neighbours?

The stupid woman in the flat upstairs has showers/shags/washes dishes/moves furniture around/slams doors, all very loudly whenever I’m trying to get to sleep. And she yaps to her stupid boyfriend out on the balcony till all hours of the morning and her balcony is right outside my window. I sincerely hope my music playing disturbs her and has a negative effect on her quality of life. I just wish my flat was above hers so when I come home pissed at 5am I can sneakily wait until there’s a gust of wind and then call for Ruth over the side [*evil laugh*]. You might have noticed I don’t like her 🙂

Re: Considering the neighbours?

living in australia, my nearest neighbour would be an easy 20- 30 meters away. i still practice my fiddle with a mute, have resently baught an electronic drumkit, tend to practice guitar on an electric thats not plugged in and for the short while i tried the whistle, i stuck a lump of bluetak in the hole. if i lived in a terrace house like most of you guys id never be able to practice at all, so great is my frea that the neighgbors/family can hear!🙂 im told im a bit too shy with my music, but i dont know….

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

I live beside an industrial area. I’ve got this crane hire yard ten metres from my back door. Sometimes the trucks belch diesel and black stuff, usually when I’m not there. I wind up the fiddle and blast the truckies back, usually when they’re not there. A great deal. Slate floors are fantastic.

Re: Subliminally Considering the neighbours?

I am pleased you lot can get a few "reels" out of the fishing rod.

I have had Viennese neighbours in the past. When they put Blasmusic on, I joined in. When I started on jigs, they were clapping and dancing.

My bass player also plays tenor sax and the old woman next door complained. First he invested in a very small whistle, which he used to entice next doors dog to go barmy so he could complain. Eventually, he found if he put sax cds on the stereo and went out, that upset the dog as well and he couldn’t be blamed as you couldn’t hear music for the dog.

I tried annoying people at work with this. I got a short clip of a brass band march on the computer and left it to play every couple of minutes at very, very low volume. Sure enough, everyone had the tune in their heads and was whistling all day. I am sure it cheered everyone up.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

well reading all this advice has given me a laugh if nothing else, and made me realise there are people a lot worse off than me when it comes to annoying neighbours! I get new ones through the wall in the next few weeks - let’s hope they are musicians too!

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Actually, it seems to be my daughters whom I most inconvenience through my practicing. Many’s the time when I’ve been shuttered in my "practice room" so I wouldn’t bother them (although, to be fair, they do seem to like the stuff for the most part).
Seriously, though, in the 12 years we’ve been living in our two-family, we’ve never had a complaint from downstairs. I do generally limit my playing past, say, 9:30 p.m. or so, and mostly it’s weekends when I trot out the instruments anyway.
Funny enough, my wife and I have sometimes had the opposite "problem." One set of neighbors asked us to bring out our instruments and play a little during their late-night party—which ended with the cops showing up! No, we weren’t thrown in the hoosegow…
Then, another neighbor, who played heavy-metal (I’m being somewhat generous when I say he "played"), thought it would be "reel KEWL" if we were to jam together sometime. I tried, Lord, I tried, to imagine what the hell we could possibly play, but it turned out to be a moot point because his girlfriend kicked him out a week or so later.

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Re: Considering the neighbours?

Before we moved to Oz,myself and my girlfriend dwelt in Loyalist South Belfast,and we thought the double glazing worked,
till the wee lads from the next street came round collecting for the local UVF flute band,commenting "like your deedly-dee"
needless to say we contributed,and no, that’s not the reason we emigrated.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Simon, I see by your bio that you live in Melbourne. I’m assuming that your climate is mild enough that there is probably no insulation in the walls of your old Victorian house. Do you rent or own this place? If you own it perhaps you could insulate the walls of at least one room that faces the neighbors. It’s also possible to make a practice room for at least one person out of a closet. Egg crate foam mattress pads are very similar to the soundproofing used in recording studios and radio stations. I had a friend years ago who described to me insulating a room with all sorts of mattresses, blankets and other sound absorbing materials and successfully hosting a group of jazz musicians every week in a crowded row house with no complaints from the neighbors.
Chris

Re: Considering the neighbours?

I don’t know if you could do this with a fiddle (I play the flute) but I have been known to practice in the back seat of my car with the windows rolled up when I’m in danger of irritating others. This is usually at work — sometimes I go out and practice when I have two or three cancelled appointments in a row because I work until 10 p.m. 2 nights a week and it’s yucky to start practicing at 11, but right now I’m playing in a new instrument and I can’t skip a day. I live in a house, but I am careful not to irritate my husband too much. As a non-musician he’s been known to get sick of hearing the same tune played 99 times in succession, or the same 3 tunes alternated for an hour straight. Or, God forbid, 20 minutes of nothing but E rolls. It’s a well known fact that a happy non-musical economist will support more frequent session attendance and pay for more instruments than a grumpy one will. Early on, my hubby and I negotiated "Miss Manners Flute Hours" (not before noon, not after 11 p.m. unless we talk first). I have an empty woodshed in the back yard, too, in case of the emergency need to play something at 2 in the morning. I haven’t checked it lately to see if it has wasps though.

When I got my first flute-like-object I was living in graduate student housing, and you could hear EVERYTHING in the other two apartments. I used to feel so bad for my poor neighbhors — I was very squeaky and made very little music for a long time despite my slavish dedication. Then, however, I didn’t have any alternatives, so not being willing to give up my obsession, I just kept my practice down to "reasonable" hours. None of them ever complained… I just worried.

The best moment, not with flute or ITM though, was when I was at Cambridge, England in a dorm, had just bought a CD of Phantom of the Opera, was really digging it, went out for a walk through a huge field of nothing but waving green wheat singing at the top of my lungs, hitting (or nearly hitting) those high As… and down the driveway came the poor farmer who owned the field. A classic moment for cross-cultural relations and for musicians everywhere.

Re: Considering the neighbours?

Many years ago, long before the days of anti-noise laws, I knew a guy, a pianist, whose philosophy was to play loud enough so that he couldn’t hear the hammering on the walls…
Trevor