A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Hello, all
The E strings on my mandolin broke recently, so, until I can get some replacements, I was going to pick up my tinwhistle and try and work on a tune or two.
So, I’ve a few questions: My whistle is in the key of D.
Looking at alot of the ABC notation, it revolves around knowing where "middle C" is so you can find notes. Does anybody know how to find middle C on the tinwhistle?
As far as sharps and flats go, are there certain ways to play those notes on the whistle, like, B flat, or A sharp for example. or E flat, even.
For the D whistle, I’ve heard there are such things called "cross-fingerings" Does anybody know what those are and could explain them?
I know the chromatic scale, so, trying to figure out how to play through that on the tinwhistle so that I know what all the notes are and I can pick them out when reading through notation to play tunes. Not entirely sure, though, haven’t found much on this subject.

Sorry for all the questions, but thank you for the answers🙂 I look forward to playing a bit more

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

oxx ooo is C natrual(the two covered are your top 2 and 3 fingers), and having all holes uncovered is C#. Or you can half hole the B(top) hole to get Cnat. Usually half holing is best for hitting the other notes for me. If you want Fnat, half hole the E. If you want Bb, half hole the A, etc…

Also, if you have a tuner, it helps with finding the right cross fingering variations. Some whistles are different in tuning, and so it will usually be different for cross fingering. I have to use oxx xoo for a C nat on one of my whistles.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

smarter people than I will probably comment shortly, but I can definitely tell you that there is no middle C on the D whistle. the lowest note (blowing softly with all fingers covering all the holes) is D; hence the name (that would be the D directly above middle C by the way, so you can still figure things out from there.)

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Hi TheBlindBard

I don’t know about middle C, but if you are looking for C on a D whistle then you cover the holes second and third from the top of the whistle. This is a cross-fingering.

Doubtless the whistle experts will take me to task, but I always considered if you needed to cover a hole or holes below the highest open hole to get the note, then that is a cross-fingering.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

From mandolin to whistle—wow!

Maybe more detail than you need, and maybe stuff you already know:

So the lowest D on your tinwhistle is what I would identify as "D right above middle C" (specifically, it is one whole step above). I use staff notation but not ABC, but I think this will still hold. Technically speaking, the whistle sounds that step up *plus* one octave higher, but that distinction can be ignored for reading’s sake. If you were playing alongside low d whistle or a flute from the same notation you would notice that you would be one octave apart.

Accidentals: So if you are playing in D major for example, you "naturally" (easily) have F# and C#. C natural is also easily available, but less so F natural and the others you mention—that;s because the instrument is more suited to play diatonically, rather than, say, like a classical flute with all its keys. Perhaps more experienced players than I have ideas about this; I would like to know more too. Meantime as a quick and dirty possibility: I do sometimes manage to play some less familiar accidentals, such as F natural, with half holing, though it’s less reliable. For F natural, you can try playing E and then lifting your right-hand middle finger halfway (or thereabouts until you find F).

Or, you can just play tunes in D and G (and their related modes) and transpose as needed! (Or multiple whistles in different keys, but your mandolin will probably be back in your arms by the time you get them … but perhaps by then you’ll be in love with your whistles.)

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Oh, many postings while I wrote my multivolume reply. I thought you were looking for middle C to orient, not to actually play on whistle? (Like I said I don’t know ABC so maybe that would explain it.)

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Pipersgrip, I am curious, do you use ox*o* ooo for high octave C natural? I have long been wondering whether that is one that varies. It’s imperfect on mine but best I have discovered so far.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Well, I was more looking for the notes to orient, so, if I am going off of ABC, all my notes will basically be an octave higher on the D whistle? Ah🙂 that’s good to know
Thank you all for the swift replies. I was just looking for something to do until I can get to a guitar center to pick up some packs of strings. I really need to buckle down here and actually learn some tunes sometime soon.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Hi Rosemarie, I usually half-hole the high octave b for my high octave cnat. That is the best tuning for the high c note that I have found.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

The whistle plays everything an octave higher than the fiddle, flute and accordion do, which is an accepted part of the music.
oxxooo is a good C natural on many whistles, but on most oxxxox is a bit closer to being on pitch.
And when you are first learning on the whistle, you will find that oxxxxx works better than xxxxxx for the high D—it is easier to get the note to sound good. Shifting between octaves involves blowing a bit more vigorously, which seems awkward at first, but you will catch on with time.
Don’t waste too much time on learning to play chromatically. In most sessions I attend, over 90 percent of the tunes can be played with that D major scale, plus that C natural. So even if you learn to half hole to get those accidentals, you will find that you rarely use the skill.
Start with melodies you already know—your mandolin playing should have given you some familiar tunes to draw on. Many people try to learn new tunes at the same time they learn a new instrument, which complicates things.
Best of luck with it, and have fun!

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Tin whistle is a diatonic wind instrument. Or six hole fipple flute with simple system fingering. "Simple" being the operative term.

Yes it’s possible to play the chromatic scale on whistle. Though it’s relatively easy to play each note found in the major scale with a few other pitches as needed.

Simple system = do re mi fa so la ti do

You can sound the keynote, or bell tone by covering all six fingerholes. This is D on a D whistle, C on a C whistle, etc. Lifting one finger at a time, from the bottom up, you can play the notes of the major scale.
do re mi fa so la ti
D E F# G A B C#

If you’re having difficulty getting a clear tone with all fingers down try playing a higher note, such as G, & working your way up a couple of notes & then down. It’s normal if it takes a little time to get your fingers accustomed & develop how much wind is needed for playing higher vs lower pitches.

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Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Thanks much, pipersgrip—that B+ (!) is a good one for me to try out.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Not to distract you from the very good work trying to use an alternative instrument, but have you thought about buying strings in bulk, in multiples, or by mail or ebay ? Better to have a spare set of strings that have been hanging around in the case for a bit than no spares at all. That’s why most cases have this little pocket or compartment, to keep your spare strings and bits in.
The whistle, of course, has the virtue of being eminently portable.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

"So the lowest D on your tinwhistle is what I would identify as "D right above middle C" (specifically, it is one whole step above)."

Not that it’s important, but I’d like to point out that the bottom D on a D whistle is *an octave and a note* above middle C (bottom D on a flute, and the open D string on a fiddle are one note above middle C). So the C in the first octave on a whistle is *two octaves* above middle C.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

@Rosemarie: There is a cross fingering for C-natural in the upper octave: OXX XXO. How in tune it is may depend on the particular whistle, but it sounds good on the Generation nickel D I have here by my computer. The half-hole option has the advantage that you can slide up to or through the note if you want to, and you can subtly shade the pitch to your taste.

Re: A couple of questions about the tinwhistle

Well, I figure since I’ve got a couple of tunes under my belt (I added only tunes I know to my tunebook,) I figure I’ll take another crack at the whistle🙂 I’m finding the second octave particularly confusing and difficult. I can’t keep it steady, unless I’m in the third octave :(