C note on D whistle

C note on D whistle

I have noticed that on most D whistles the C note (or any key for that matter - covering the two 2nd and 3rd hole from the top) is often a bit weak and unstable. Is this normal or is there anything that you can do to help this?

Thanks!!

Re: C note on D whistle

None of my whistles seem to have a noticeably unstable Cnat, but it can have a weaker fluffier sort of sound than some of the other notes. On some of my whistles I get a Cnat with a stronger tone by half-holing the top hole rather than using the cross-fingering. I use this approach a lot in typical Dmix ‘piping’ tunes that have long Cnats where you can slide and bend into the note (think of the Yellow Wattle, Garrett Barry’s jig, the Humours of Ballyloughlin and so on). It would probably be damn near impossible in passages where you bounce between the Cnat and other notes though (like the Chicago Reel).

Re: C note on D whistle

What he just said.

Although Colman, anything is possible. Having been told that Mary Bergin only ever half-holes, I was curious to see how she handled similar bouncing passages. When I got a chance I asked her to play the third part of the Flogging Reel, which she promptly did, at full speed, with perfect accuracy, using half-holing for the C-nats and of course the F-nats.

Re: C note on D whistle

I’d well believe it - Mary Bergin falls into the category of “musicians I’m not 100% sure are actually human” due to their outrageous level of skill! All of the Fs in my Flogging Reel are sharp 😏

Re: C note on D whistle

You could buy a Michael Burke whistle with a C natural thumb hole. It improves the C natural especially the high C ,plus you can use the thumb hole for cuts etc.

Re: C note on D whistle

Mary Bergin commented on half-holing something along the lines of “It isn’t harder to accurately half-hole on a tin whistle than to hit the right note when fingering a fiddle.”

Re: C note on D whistle

To get a half holed C i roll the whistle away from the top hand and slightly raise the finger.whether anyone else does I dont know but it works for me.

Re: C note on D whistle

Thanks for all the input. If they make the thumbhole to get a more natural C then it must be a normal part of a whistle’s makeup. I’m fine with that. I play recorder as well, and it of course is exact all the way throughout. But, whistles are whistles, 🙂

Re: C note on D whistle

The thumbhole is a very practical way to go. I use them on my flutes and am very happy with them. If you just leave the thumb down then it plays exactly as does a normal flute/whistle. Disadvantages could include:
1. You will get used to it and playing on standard whistles/flutes becomes more awkward.
2. I remember hearing that some competitions ban the thumbhole - to me that says that it must be a good idea! But if you are that way inclined then you might want to check first.

If you play the Boehm flute as well then the hole has the advantage of making the C# and CNat fingering on both the same. You can always play all the other half-holed/Cross fingered variants if you want. Note, acoustically it is no different from the C Nat key on a keyed flute. It also allows cleaning up the tuning for a few other notes, especially up high.

Re: C note on D whistle

If you do get a thumb hole added - make sure it is the correct place radially. Directly at the back on a whistle and about 2/3 of the way around on a flute. Hold the instrument and look at where your thumb sits…

Re: C note on D whistle

The crossfingered C natural on pipes, whistle, and flute has a special tone which in my opinion sets it above half-holing the note, and having a thumb hole. You still can bend up to it, on pipes and whistle and flute equally.

Also it’s far easier to play C natural in dense, busy, complex passages. Add to that the fact that the crossfingered C natural can be patted and cut and rolled.

The thumb hole strikes me as a back-formation, an unnecessary mutation probably driven by people coming to Irish music from the Boehm flute and/or Recorder. Not that it does any harm- a piece of tape takes care of it 🙂

About Mary Bergin, I have noticed that she plays C# in many places where many or most people would play C natural. She has a wonderful C# d e triplet that she throws into tunes regardless of whether or not they’re generally thought of as having C naturals.

Another thing is the C# B A triplet in tunes generally regarded as being in A minor. The C# goes by very quickly and many people might not notice that it’s a C# that’s being played.

Re: C note on D whistle

I have noticed that many whistles have the C-nat on OXX OXX or OXX OXO.
If I use the normal OXX OOO I find myself pulling back on the note to keep it in pitch.

The more closed C-nat has a different set of sub-tones that seem a little stronger to my ear.

But then, it’s a whistle. It’s perfection is in its imperfection.

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