Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

I’ve recently taken to doing c ‘rolls’ on the whistle by playing c as oxx xox and tapping first the right hand middle and then the left hand index fingers (but not covering the index finger hole fully as it tends to squawk if I do that).

Does anyone else do this, and how do other people approach ornamenting and articulating C/C#.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

My friend Caoimhin just lifts his left hand entirely and runs his fingers over the three upper holes (difficult to explain), but sounds awesome. He only does it as a joke though really. I don’t roll at all on flute/whistle, but get the c rolls out of my system on fiddle.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

wheresrhys - Yes, I sometimes do that, but I’ve never been very satisfied with the sound it makes. It’s something I do out of habit rather than by design.

jcawley - I’ve tried that one too. It sounds more like a (Scottish) bagpipe ornament than anything recogniseably Irish. I think it would take a lot of practice to get it sounding good, anyway - it tends to sound a bit comical when I do it.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

Triple tonguing is another option for the ‘unrollable’ notes - again, I don’t do it very well, so I tend to avoid it, but it is used to great effect (not only on C, C# & D) by some whistle players - notably Sean Ryan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGjej35p3E0


and Josie McDermott https://thesession.org/recordings/display/130

I would most likely put in a small melodic variation - just an extra note or two in place of one long note. Or I’d switch to mandolin for the less whistle-friendly tunes.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

The simplest option is to just tongue three repeated eight notes: Gccc eccc. That’s a good old traditional roll substitute used by countless concertina, melodeon, and old-style box players, among others. A very effective half roll that also works on D is to cut the second repeated eighth note and tongue the third. If the rest of the tune is played with good rhythm and conviction, few knowledgeable listeners will fault the absence of a roll on a couple notes.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

I roll C natural as often as any other note pretty much; the rolls are no more difficult than any other so why not?

I do

oxxoox (my Cnat fingering)

oxxxxx (the cut)

oxxoox (back to C)

xxxoox (the pat)

oxxoox (and back to C to finish)

I do do a roll on C# but it’s a bit clumsy for me and I don’t do it often. I use a special fingering and it goes like this:

oooxxx (special C# fingering for rolling)

oxxxxx (the cut)

oooxxx (back to C#)

xooxxx (the pat)

oooxxx (back to C# to finish)

These rolls are MUCH easier to do than to explain. But note that both rolls use a two-finger patting motion to create the cut, and a one-finger pat for the pat, so there’s a certain degree of logic to them.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

Here’s a good example, if you can hear or see her doing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGJrPcMdQTk


third note from the beggining .as you can hear its possible
to get a very crisp ornament ,and as d cook says its
easier than it looks or sounds ,good luck.

ps ……she,s playing in eb

Posted by .

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

That’s a lovely bit of playing there. But she’s using a tongued triplet isn’t she, so I think I’ll have to try and master that. Anyone got any tips? (aside from practice practice practice and start slow)

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

I could never figure out how to do the thing where you brush your hand over the top holes, but the tongued triplet usually does the job of ornamenting Csharps. Or if the tune has a lot of those, I play it on the pipes, which is easier. :-)

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

"I could never figure out how to do the thing where you brush your hand over the top holes"

I think the trick is to spread the fingers of your LH, then make one swift motion with your hand - this minimises the duration of each ‘tap’. Is still sounds ridiculous when I do it, though.

Richard D Cook - your C# roll makes sense, but I can’t quite get the feel of a roll with it - it always sounds more like two taps (which, mechanically speaking, it is), despite the fact that one of the grace notes is above the C#.

wheresrhys - I agree that Julie Fowlis is using triple tonguing on the C-naturals (D-flats in actual pitch). Her fingers clearly do not move on those notes.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

What’s wrong with letting it play? I usually exploit it to take a breath though.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

I usually do as in most tunes, it’s a passing note. There are a few Scottish pipe tunes in Amaj with long-ish Csharps — I feel I need to roll or triplet those ones.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

You’re right Dr Spear: there are loads of Scottish tunes that really need C# rolls or something on those C#’s, because they’re built into the tunes, at least the way they’re played by Scottish fiddlers and pipers.

If I were in a situation where I was to be playing whistle on a regular basis along with a person playing Scottish smallpipes in A or Borderpipes in A, I think I would rig up an E whistle so that I could play all the tunes in G, which I find much easier. Then the bagpipe’s C# is my B, which is a great note for loads of rolling. I say "rig up" because I’d have to modify the whistle to play what would be to me F naturals (the bagpipe’s G naturals).

Bottom line, I don’t find A the most comfortable key to play in on the whistle, so I usually use an E whistle for it.

Re: Ornamenting a C/C# on the whistle

I find all those sorts of tunes easier on the uilleann pipes than on a D whistle. Easier to roll the Csharp, plus I have my trusty Gsharp key on for the Amaj fiddle tunes.

How do you "rig up" an E whistle? I’ve never seen one, though I suppose someone like Colin Goldie must make one.