Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

I just recently bought my first whistle and it’s a Susato Oriole Bb. I know that the most common to start is a D high whistle, but I’m not a big fan of the high picth of the high whistles. Originally I wanted a low whistle (I’ve recently started classes for alto recorder, never played a soprano recorder before), but they are not available to buy in my country so even the commonly cheaper whistles are quite expensive for me.

I want to play just for fun, I’m not planning to play in groups or do sessions with other people, so I heard the Bb whistles are fine for solo sessions and I really like their sound from videos of people playing it.

My question is, I find sheets for whistles, without notes, just the finger positions, but it never says in what tune they are, so I assume they are in D and I’m not sure if I can play D tunes with an Bb whistle (yes I’m a beginner with music in general so I’m probably saying dumb things here), but are there any tunes that are specific for Bb whistles? If I get any sheet (for a D whistle for instance) and simply do the same fingering in it, will the tune come out right? Do I need to do transposition of tunes made for D whistles to play in Bb whistles?
Thank you.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

If you’re not playing in sessions or with others, you can treat a Bb whistle exactly as if it were a D whistle. Tunes would play fine, just in a different key. For example, a tune in D would play in Bb instead.

If you try to play the tunes to be correct pitch, you’d struggle with too much half-noting and cross fingering. If you want to play in session a D whistle is essential, either a regular one or a low D.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

If you have a chart of notes of any tune, with 6 finger holes, it will work on any whistle with 6 holes.

If you are playing on your own, that is all you need to know.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

As said above, you can play any ITM tune on a Bb whistle if it’s a solo (or you can persuade your accompanying musicians to transpose). I find the Bb good for practicing fingering for new tunes as it’s easier on the ear than a high D. I also play mine with other musicians in a local session which focuses on eastern European music, some of their tunes are in C and Gminor, but there are a lot of brass instruments and clarinets so I’m probably inaudible!

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

Fine playing as always from KC, thank you.

Bb whistles are lovely. Although I’ve never come across a good Generation D the several Gen Bbs that I’ve had have all been nice whistles.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

As above - play whatever tunes you like on it. Just don’t expect anyone else to join in with you, unless they also have a Bb whistle or other suitably pitched instrument (or they happen to be fluent in all keys - which is not the norm for traditional musicians).

Situations where you might find it useful in a session is

i. on tunes that are normally played in flat keys, such as Bb, F, G minor/dorian, D minor. However, an F or C whistle is probably better suited to these keys and also facilitates playing in C.

ii. a ‘flat pitch’ session in Bb (i.e. where everyone is tuned down a major 3rd, so what is normally D sounds as Bb) - but you are most likely to encounter this only if there is a piper with a set of pipes in Bb.

iii. an ‘Eb’ session (i.e. where everyone is tuned up a semitone, so D => Eb) - but here, an Eb whistle would be more useful as you would not need to change your fingerings and would find that the tunes better fit the range of the instrument.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

There are some nice tunes around in Bb; my friend plays Leaving Lerwick Harbour on one.
See: https://thesession.org/tunes/1874 It says G min, but no, it’s Bb Major!

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

As others have said - you can play anything solo on the Bb - you just won’t have others accompanying you.

Get over the aversion to D whistle if you want to hang around the genre. And get yourself a D whistle. It’s the right place to start. All the notation and "discussion" presumes a D instrument. D is so hard-coded that we would even refer to a given note on the Bb for fingering/playing by reference to what the note would be on a D instrument. All the YouTube materials you might practice alongside - D. All the sessions you might sit in on - D. Most of the recordings you might choose to listen to - D.

Even if you ambition is "just for fun" - the D remains the better kick off key to work with IMHO.

And I should know. My grandmother bought me my starter whistle in C. And it put me back over 3 decades before I discovered the source of my isolation.

Re: Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

Jiyuuko, with Irish whistles, flutes, and pipes everyone just plays instruments in any key without thinking about the Concert Pitch notes that are coming out.

Uilleann pipers, fluters, and whistle players will call the lowest note Bottom D regardless of whether they’re playing an instrument in D, or C, or Eb, or whatever.

When ITM music is notated in ABC notation or ordinary staff notation it’s nearly always put in keys intended for Concert Pitch instruments, for example fiddles tuned GDAE and Uilleann pipes, whistles, and flutes in D.

But you can pick up any key of whistle and finger the tunes as if you were playing a D whistle.

Tunes for a Bb Whistle?

Thank you everyone!!

I think my problems was that I started doing classes for Alto recorder and the teachers always focus more on playing the right notes because they have the "classical music" mentality of teaching, even though I said I’m learning just for myself, I don’t plan to play in orchestras or anything like that. I started the alto recorder but for almost 4 months I hated it because I had a terrible teacher. Fortunally now I have a great one, but I suffered a lot with the alto because it have a different range than the soprano, but instead of telling me I could play the same song with the same sheet, just in a different key, my teachers seem to focus on playing the same notes, meaning I have to transpose almost every sheet music for soprano recorders which gets really tiring.

I feared it would be the same with the whistle, so I’m glad to know that it’s ok to play the same music just changing the key, since I’m most playing by myself at home