Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

I raised this question on another thread, but it has gone unanswered. My question is, What do whistlers do when they come across tunes which have notes from the fiddle’s G string? I’m assuming a D whistle is being played. Can substitute notes be found/are there rules or formulae for finding them … that would suit solo playing or session playing that would not throw other players off??? Go raibh maith agaibh.
mairtin, a whistler weak

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

They do the same thing our piper and flute players do, and which you’ve just mentioned — pop up the octave or find another note that works within the implied chord (or at least the chord our backer is using). Sort of like finding a variation except that you sort of have to.

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

ya just kind of gotta play around with it and see what sounds good to you. I play both fiddle and whistle and I know that if a fiddler hits the low notes I kind of just find the main note in the key (meaning, if the tune is in g then I’d fool atounf playing som rolls in G..or in A minor then I’d give some A rolls….it all depends on the tune. or you could just paly the same exact note the fiddler’s playing in the case that the whistle allows you to which would make it sound an octave higher. For the most part you can play any tune on the whistle…just need to be arranged slightly differently at times.

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

I used to play in a church band, which involved a lot of tunes in the key of D, which never went above the octave E (for reasons of singability), but many of which went down to B or C below the bottom D.

So I made an A whistle, out of a piece of 25mm copper pipe, and a scrap of wood. It’s astonishingly easy to do.

One day I swear I’m going to make a new fipple for it so it doesn’t take so much air, but I’m loth to alter it, because it has a beautiful tone.

Dave

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Agreed, also you might try experimenting with different key whistles if you have any. I’ve found a Low D whistle works well if you’re constantly working in the upper octaves and you’re not wanting to play ‘quite so high’ if you get my drift.

Also, I recently came accross a fiddler that played Kesh Jig in I can’t remember what key, but I know the begining note was D and I ended up using my A whistle because it played EXACTLY the same fingering as if I were playing my high D whistle. (When we all played Kesh Jig like we were used to)

Anyway… fun with keys which I don’t understand all that well because I play by ear and don’t read music all that well!!! I just figure out what whistle is working easiest for the tune we’re playing and how it’s being played! 🙂

Take care,
John

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

frozen - What to do when the melody goes lower than the lowest note your instrument plays…It’s a question that every whistle and flute player has to eventually address. This situation imposes need for variation, whereas most variation is a matter of preference. There are multiple solutions, and as with most problems, some players find really nice ways of turning a ‘solution’ into something creatively more. Popping the octave is a simple rule that almost always works, for obvious reasons. But, whistle/flute players can get mileage by creatively extending the duration of the required variation to include a ‘solution’ that works right with the melody, but does more than simply leap up an octave to hit the notes below tonic.

It can be as simple as staying in the higher range for a run of notes, and deciding where to drop back down. Or, it can include moving up a third or fifth for a couple of notes, and getting right back on top of the melody line in the usual register. Good ears will go a long way toward doing something that’s not heard as a "harmony line," or "counter melody." Experience certainly helps, as does listening to the masters and how they address the issue on recordings.

The initial, simple, solution isn’t always the nicest sounding. We play "The Silver Spire" in D. The tune sounds great and works well for fiddle and banjo. The tune goes below the low D in both A and B parts. Popping the octave sounds just fine in the A part. But, the melody run that starts on A (B part) sounded a little cheesy for the flute (to my ears) to drop back down as soon as the low D came ‘round. So I stay with the run until the melody line drops back down again (ten notes into the B part). Have I completely confused you yet?

Anyway - I hope some part of that is helpful.

Best,
steve

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Thanks Everyone,
I’ll respond to your comments. What’s immediately obvious to me is the gulf that separates us. I repeat I am a weak player.
Zina, I have tried jumping up the octave, but it does not sound right. The rest of your advice "finding the note that sounds right within the implied chord" doesn’t help me, because I wouldn’t be able to pick out the implied chord in a lineup of two.
Dinjosra, I’m not good at finding the note that sounds good. If only one note, I could try the Key the tune is in, but what if a bunch of notes are down there?
Dave, It may be easy to make an A whistle out of a piece of pipe, but I don’t think I will progress beyond going to the store and saying, Please Sir, could I have an A whistle? I know they make B flat, do they make As too?
McHaffie, Low Ds are not easy to play. After I saw a movie called, I believe, The Galway Hooker, and listening to D Spillane playing the low D as the boat made the trip from the islands to the city, I was moved to buy one. An Overton. I couldn’t play it. My hands are too small/inflexible to stretch from low to high, and my fingers are small too for the holes (overall I’m small). So I gave it away to the son of a friend. He plays the bpipes, but the last time I heard him, he had a long way to go on the low D.

Maybe I’m looking for an easy solution to a problem that doesn’t have one. I want to stick with the D whistle and I was hoping that the answer would be something like, if DEB,D occurs, you could play DEGD and it would sound okay and the G woudn’t conflict with a fiddler playing the B,. More complex than that, I take it.
Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Stevie C,
I think we were writing at the same time. I need to look at yours more, but will it confuse me? … probably. See my response above yours.
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

frozen - I don’t know if it will add to confusion or not. But perhaps if you can cite a specific tune that we have in common we could use it to work through. Let me know. And we can always take the specifics off-list if you like.

steve

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

For the low notes, you could take a small penknife from your pocket and and then make a small slice through the G string of the fiddle player sitting next to you. Then say something along the lines of "Down with the notes that divide us! Give me pitch parity or give me death!" But be prepared for either of those options to be meted out swiftly.

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

And will ye tell me how rosin tastes?

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Like trees?

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Stevie,
Thanks, your solution is I think a very good one. Unfortunately, it would take a player better than I to apply it. In your second note, you might have hit the nail on the head, even been psychic. The main reason, but not the only one, is that I have not succeeded in playing on the whistle a number of reels my father composed, about 80% of which have notes below D. In the next few days, I will be posting one of them and if you can work out a playing solution for D whistle I’d be interested. Slan
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

And whistleman,
I ‘m a non-violent man, but thanks for the suggestion.
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

frozen - As I had stated earlier on though… and you replied… even if a Low D is too much of a stretch (was for me too for quite a while till I got my fingers stretched out… even skipped my ring fingers and used my pinkys for a long time) you could try a Low A or something not quite so much a stretch on many tunes other key whistles will work just great. G and A are great examples.
Bb seems to ba a fav of people too.

But anyway… lot’s of possibilities I’ll be quiet now. 🙂

Take care,
John

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Rosin tastes like sawdust, haha, and so does dog food.

Johnathan

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Hi Frozen, I play GHB and this problem is even more pronounced as the range is only an octave and one note.
As you have found out the solution is not always easy and compromises have to be made.
Some thing I find useful is music software that allows you to experiment with different notes and listen to the results.
I use different criteria for tunes that a play in sessions and ones that I play solo (the solo ones have to stand on there own two feet)
Inevitably some tunes you want to play have to be rejected because they just won’t adapt without loosing their life force.
The most extreme case that I do play solo at funerals is Danny Boy and it took a long time to get an arrangement that caries some of the power of the original.
I would seriously consider eventually getting a range of different Keyed whistles a low A and a Low G would be most useful, if just for the different tone (they’re great for slow airs).
You could of cause use a Soprano Recorder, which gets you down to C, but keep it to yourself as one or two people around here consider the Recorder in Irish Trad a crime against Humanity.

Good luck

PP

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Thanks John and PP,

John, re the low D, I gave it away because I didn’t see any possibilities of stretching. Even A or G may be too long for me. The problem also going down to A is that it makes getting the high notes on the E string difficult. I did buy a G one time, a Hohner, still have it, but it sounds weird, and I think it’s more the whistle than me. Even if I mastered one of these low whistles, say A, my hands would be so stretched I don’t think I’d ever be able to play fast tunes, reels jigs polkas, … just slow airs.

PP, Sorry, I’m afraid I’d have to align myself with the Anti Recorder brigade. I agree with you that the lower keyed whistles are better for slow airs, although my fingers don’t feel comfortable with a whistle longer than a C. Might try the software idea sometime as an aid (seems like the kind of thing I might have to do under cover of darkness, very untraditional). Found what you say about solos/sessions surprising. I’d be more concerned about being out of harmony with others, but then when I think solo, I’m thinking alone and you are probably thinking performance.
Slan is cead on dtaobh seo uaim (Who said that?)
Weather is picking up, windchill of only -40 is the best we have had in a week. Did you know river ice can be thicker than 3 metres?
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

frozen - I’ll keep checking this string for a common tune you post. I think once we can talk about something already familiar, and explore a couple of options, you’ll be well on your way. Please feel free to email.

steve

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

Go raibh mile maith agat, Stevie,
Do you miss Belfast or has the Texas heat make you forget?
mairtin

Re: Come All Ye Whistlers Bold and …

mairtin - I don’t think there’s any force that could make me forget Belfast, and my family that remain there. But I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to return and stay close to them, and I look forward to many more returns.
steve