Range adjustments

Range adjustments

Hi,

I have a question about how to handle notes in a tune that may not be in the range of the whistle.

For instance, I recently heard King of the Fairies and liked the tune, so I have started to learn it.

I have listened to several YouTube videos of the tune, and I have dloaded the music from here.

Of course the recordings all vary in some ways. And I know my answer is my choice, but I want to hear what other opinions are.

In most of the music sheets the starting note is too low to be played on the whistle. It is a B. I have been playing the tune on a low D and a high D whistle and also on a Bb, but using D fingerings. Some say just play it up an octave and that works fine. But one of the music sheets has the B simply replaced with a D. And that works fine as well. But of course that is not true to the "original" melody, although in most recordings there are a lot of different notes, as people have learned it or personal preferences.

What are you opinions on here about that first (and other instances) of the beginning note?

Thanks…

Re: Range adjustments

As you listen to tunes or read transcriptions one thing that stands out is that the "original" melody is a moving target. The take-away is to learn to play the tune the tune and don’t stress overmuch about the notes. "Octavate" the note or the whole figure, play the 3rd or the 5th or any other note that pleases you without crashing into the note somebody else is playing. Every instrument you’ll ever play has limitations and the challenge is to find ways to use them. I can’t tell you what works in any situation, I can say that there will almost always be more than one way and your choice is equally valid.

Re: Range adjustments

It depends on the tune, and some amount of choice.

You can:
(1) octave jump those low notes,
(2) replace them with an alternative (preferably non-conflicting) note that still follows the melody,
(3) some combination of (1) and (2)
(4) play it in a different key (Dmaj vs Gmaj, Edor vs Ador, Ddor vs Edor, etc etc.)
(5) sometimes choose a different whistle,
or (6) not play that specific tune.

With King Of The Fairies, you can octave jump that B, or, play it as a D, as you say.

Some other examples:

The Trip To Dingle ( https://thesession.org/tunes/6057 ). See X3 for the original. Plenty of low notes, and octave jumping all of them doesn’t sound great to my ears. X11 octave jumps some of them, and replaces some of them, for a better flow.

The White Petticoat ( https://thesession.org/tunes/332 ). There’s a few low B’s. They all work fine octave jumped, although a little awkward at first.

Brother’s Jig ( https://thesession.org/tunes/17150 ). Some low A’s and B’s. They can be octave jumped, you can play it with Ador fingering on another whistle, or, you can octave jump the whole tune (since it happens to all fall within a nice range for that).

Flint Hills Ride ( https://thesession.org/tunes/17627 ). You’ll see the original, and a whistle friendlier setting, which does both (1) and (2) from the list above.

Re: Range adjustments

Thanks…

Re: Range adjustments

Hello Brueggen, I left you a pm with 2 sources regarding the King of the Fairies. Both for a D tin whistle.

Re: Range adjustments

Jumping the octave and replacing the note with a different note are both acceptable practices. It may depend somewhat on the particular tune and what the melody is doing either side of the ‘problem’ note, but it is down to the discretion of the player how to deal with it. The most important thing, I think, is that the result is melodic - i.e. that *you* hear melodic sense in what you are playing.

It might be that, to your ear, playing that low B an octave up in this tune (jumping up a major 6th in an otherwise largely stepwise melody) breaks the flow of the melody, in which case you might be more comfortable playing an F#, repeating the D or simply playing a single long D. There are also ways you could elaborate the melody at that point (perhaps best used as variations on later iterations of the tune, rather than your ‘basic’ version), e.g.
k:Edor
FGFE D2FD
FGFE D2DF
FGFE D2 (3DEF
FGFE DEFD
FGFE DFED etc.

In tunes where there are several notes below range, the obvious choice is to take the whole passage up an octave - perhaps including some notes that are not out of range, to maintain the flow of the whole phrase.

Re: Range adjustments

IMHO
If somebody have only D whistle, have problem like above, we have lots of ranges instruments and people have really different ranges of voice… See guitar players: all use capo … different positions… better way: collect whistles in many keys ;)

Re: Range adjustments

I get the idea Jarek, in most session settings that’ll be unnecessary. Maybe with a band or singer more so.

Playing King of the Fairies in Edorder on anything but a D whistle would be more challenging than taking care of the one one. Reason: flats and sharps.

Re: Range adjustments

This is an issue with different instruments at various times regardless of whether it’s ITM or any other genre of music. Transposing keys only works occassionaly, so, we’re stuck with either playing an octave up or altering the melody slightly. I usually use whatever is the least obtrusive or objectionable to the group I am playing with. Most of the musicians I’ve worked with, understood the range limitations of various instruments.

Re: Range adjustments

In ‘The King of the Fairies’, that first B is a pick-up or lead in note (or, if you want to be posh, an anacrusis). You can do without it. Start with the first down beat, the E, and carry on from there. If you must have a pick-up B, play it on the octave - it sounds fine that way, and I think it sounds better than a D as the pick up.

Re: Range adjustments

Expanding on what Muircheartaigh and others have said, I like to think about the melodic and harmonic function of a note, when deciding whether and how to omit or substitute it (whether because it’s out of range or because I need to breathe, or just because I’m too lazy to play the tune as written).

In the case of the low B’s in King of the Fairies, they’re 1) pick-ups (melodic function) and 2) dominant (V chord) harmony. In the key E dorian, your V chord is B minor (B-D-F#, plus A if you’re using the 7th).

So every time that low B comes up, your basic options are:
- Leave it out; because it’s a pick-up/anacrusis, it’s not essential to the "bones" of the melody.
- Play it an octave up
- Play a different note that fits with the harmony; i.e. D or F#, or possibly A
- Or get really wild and creative… maybe play a little solo run that serves as an embellishment/lead-in to the main phrase, or something.

I can’t tell you which approach is best, your own ears will figure it out. (Worth mentioning: play with your rhythm and timing as well as trying different notes. All that really matters is getting to the "big beats" on time.)

If you decide you really want that low B though, use a G or A whistle; you’ll have to do some half-holing and 3rd octave notes and it’s sort of a pain in the neck, but King of the Fairies in Edor is reasonably playable on both.

Re: Range adjustments

I think NfldWhistler nailed the options. Octave jumps are employed both ways - for notes below or above the natural range of the instrument. If a note or two climbs above the high-high-D you can always drop down either.

Sometimes, just popping the single note outside range is more noticeable (less pleasing) than popping a full bar/phrase which can sound like a pleasing ornament.

Also, if there is only a note or two - instead of not playing the tune.. just disappear for those couple of notes is also an option - or very softly play the harmony notes described.

The best answer is often to grab another whistle (Low A or Low G are often helpful here). Ashokan Farewell will probably be played in D Maj when led by Banjos or Fiddles and the range isn’t comfortable on D whistle. Low-A whistle fits the bill perfectly. (however, my choice would be to play Ashokan in G-Maj on the Flute/Whistle and nail the B/C-nat/B top notes!).

Re: Range adjustments

Thanks to all for your comments and discussions. I listened to several arrangements of King of the Fairies and looked at several charts. I decided to use a chart recommended by Dutchie.

Here is my version being played on a Kerry Optima low D.

https://youtu.be/v3Q6z5XN0fo