piping techniques on the whistle.

piping techniques on the whistle.

Hi everyone,

I was wondering about what piping techniques, if any, you use on the whistle. I can incorporate crans rather well, but are there any others I can try?

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Do you mean ornamentation? Many are the same I would think, however I don’t play pipes (yet), only whistles.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Short rolls, long rolls, bacon rolls, triplets, trills, slides, taps….

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

It depends on what you mean by "piping techniques".

I suppose the techniques used on the uilleann pipes fall into three groups:

1) techniques that make up the shared style of all the Irish traditional woodwind instruments (whistle, flute, and uilleann pipes) like cuts, pats, rolls, note-bending, finger vibrato, etc.

2) techniques that are equally playable on flute, whistle, and pipes but are thought of as being more idiomatic on the uilleann pipes, for example cranning.

3) techniques that eminate from the unique physics of the uilleann pipes and can’t be done on other instruments. Yes other instruments can mimick the sound of these (with varying degrees of success) but they can’t produce the actual effect. These include the changes in timbre made by moving the chanter on and off the leg, Hard Bottom D, barking, and finger staccato (which sounds distinctively different from tongued staccato).

So yes on flute and whistle I can do any of the things #1 and #2 above, but I can only mimick the things #3 above.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

@DrSilverSpear, next time I see you we must swap tips for bacon rolls!

I’m not sure if it counts as ‘technique’, but one thing you hear pipers do a lot is ‘bouncing off the bottom D’, and that works nicely on whistle too, even if you don’t get the nice hard D you get on the pipes.

What I mean is that if you take the commonly-played opening phrase of Cailleach an Airgid:
|:Adc A3 |

Instead of doing that long A roll, you could change the phrase to:
|:Adc ADA |

Also, bendy C naturals and F sharps are used a lot on the pipes and also work really nicely on the whistle. Sliding into a flattish F# in the first part of the Steampacket, or sliding into the long C-nat in the second part of the Old Bush will give your whistling a more ‘pipey’ flavour.

You can kind of get a piping-style ghost D by half-holing the E on your whistle, and that gives you the option of doing an Seamus Ennis-style final bar in a tune like The Pleasures of Hope, where instead of a standard:
|d2 d>cd2:|

You could do a very lovely:
|d^d d>cd2:|

If I remember correctly, piper Mikey Smyth has a series of lessons on OAIM where he specifically talks about using techniques from his piping on the whistle.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Adding to Colman’s list, how about a Séamus-Ennis-style trill or "shiver" on the long f# in the 4th part of the Bucks of Oranmore? I also like to throw in an ^d à la Ennis in the last part of the Dublin Reel (D setting) - e^de^d e2 fedB…

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

A fairly easy one, with a bit of practice, is the finger bounce. Mikey Smith(sp?) demonstrates in one of his free uilleann videos for OAIM. It ends up sounding much like a cut, but with a different flavor. I think it works better on the pipes, but it is transferrable.

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Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

I wonder to what extent you could incorporate ‘back-stitching’, cascading descending triplets?

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

"I wonder to what extent you could incorporate ‘back-stitching’, cascading descending triplets?"

That is a type of melodic variation that can be - and is - used by a players of all melody instruments. It may be more physically demanding, and hence less used, on plectrum instruments (and perhaps button accordion and concertina), but it is often used by flute and fiddle players, particularly those that play in or are influenced by North Connaught styles - and what’s fair game for a flute is fair game for a whistle.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Wow, So many thoughts here, I’ve heard of Mikey Smith on oaim, for sure. I’ll have to look at his videos!

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Other instruments can do the notes involved in backstitching but it doesn’t really sound like backstitching does on the pipes- the effect depends on the pipe’s finger staccato which whistle and flute can’t do.

Can anybody post a link to backstitching being done on other instruments? I’d like to hear what it sounds like.

On whistle and flute you can do cuts over a sustained note which can sound sort of like the pipe’s fingered staccato, and I can imagine a whistle or flute player playing C and B cuts over a held G, done in the low octave, and throwing this in between pairs of melody notes in the 2nd octave, to get the backstitching effect. I’ll have to try that.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

@Richard D Cook: Perhaps I’m misunderstanding exactly what backstitching is. Could you link to some examples on the pipes, please?

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Thanks, benhockenberry.

I think I misunderstood postie’s comment as *defining* backstitching as ‘cascading descending triplets’, whilst he was actually listing them as two different techniques. My comment https://thesession.org/discussions/42348#comment847714 was in reference to cascading triplets, not backstitching as demonstrated by Mikie Smyth.

In fact, I do something similar to backstitching on the mandolin - a descending ‘back-end’ picked triplet, ending on the melody note. Perhaps I have unconsciously picked it up listening to pipers. I see no reason why you could not do the same thing on whistle using tongued notes (no doubt, some pipers do this intuitively when they play the whistle); whether it is as effective on the whistle as on the pipes is another question.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

I backstitch on the whistle by tonguing triplets.

I actually prefer sausage rolls.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Now, I must ask, what is backstitching? I’ve never heard of this technique.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

http://pipers.ie/source/media/?galleryId=793&mediaId=22016

It’s two pippy staccato notes separating two other notes. The staccato notes are usuall A c# or g f#.
So the phrase might look like e A’c#’ e
Or d g’f# d.
More percussive than melodic. To make it sound good on whistle you need to stop the air in the right places.
To me good whistling and flute playing is almost like tight piping in that it has ebbs and flows. You punctuate the musical phrases with tongue or glottial stopping similar to closures of the chanter.

I agree it doesn’t sound the same but than neither does a cran.


The grand daddy of back stitching tracks:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VGsTxjmKLJM

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Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

@CreadurMawnOrganig - yes! I hadn’t thought of that banjo/mandolin technique as a piping-style ornament before. So much to learn from listening to other instruments! :D

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Richard asked to hear an attempt at backstiching on another instrument.
Here’s a quick go on whistle.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bCqUS-gIJCc


I wouldn’t say I hear it much in many whistlers as if you’re going for a staccato sound you can do so many other things with your tongue, have a listen to Sean Ryan or Brian Finnegan.
I only learned to do it on whistle so I could play Touhey tunes without taking out the pipes.
On the pipes I used to try doing a descending run of stitching as an excersise and I tried at the end of the clip but kinda ballsed it up.

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Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Forgot to say the attempt at stitches are in the second part of the tune

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Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Sounded great anyhow . Nice

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

Hmm, perhaps I can incorporate backstitching into my playing. I’ve already done so with crans, so I don’t think this is impossible. If possible, can someone describe in detail how this would be done? Just so everyone knows, I am using a screen reader, so ABC notation will be a big jumble.

Re: piping techniques on the whistle.

As other posters noted it’s the physics of staccato on the pipes that make these sounds interesting on the pipes.
Perhaps there are better ornaments for other instruments that accomplish something similar.
The one finger notes :
A
c#
f#
g

allow for the tightness of the effect. The effect is based around these notes.
So it’s something you can emulate but perhaps don’t want to on other instruments. I certainly wouldn’t play as I did in the clip all the time.
That said how to do it is to play a second octave g note. Then play a staccato first octave c# note. Then play a staccato first octave A note. Then land back on the second octave g.
This is what I call stitching the note together. You can hold the g and make the other notes cuts but staccato cuts or you can try and finger the notes. Both approaches seem to work. This will get you started. Try this where you would normally play a second octave g roll in a jig.

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