tunebook 288 tunes.
Whistle, mainly, and a bit of flute.
My preference definitely tends toward the pure drop, and I generally prefer my tunes to amble along, swing, bounce and bend, rather than trying to rip a hole in the space-time continuum.
- Recommended Listening -
A recurring topic on the forum is new whistle players looking for advice on who to listen to, or where to pick up tunes. Here is my advice, for what it’s worth:
Don’t limit your listening to whistle players. Listen to flute players and uilleann pipers too - they tend to play "whistle-friendly" tunes and settings and many play whistle too. When I started learning whistle I listened to a lot of:
- Liam O’Flynn (solo and as part of Planxty)
- Paddy Keenan (solo and as part of the Bothy Band)
- Matt Molloy (solo, as part of the Bothy Band, and in a few duo/trio recordings too)
- The duo of Mick O’Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (you’ll need whistles in B and Bb to play along with their recordings, but they’re essential listening)
- The duo of Ronan Browne & Peadar O’Loughlin (again you’ll need, I think, a B whistle to play along)
And that’s only a handful of the musicians I listened to. Listening to those guys though will help you build up a solid repertoire of traditional tunes.
In terms of musicians who specifically play whistle, any aspiring whistle player in my opinion should listen to all of the following to hear how they approach the tunes, and get a taste of many very different styles of whistle playing:
A very influential and highly regarded player who I have often heard credited with helping the humble tin whistle gain more credibility as a ‘serious’ instrument in its own right. She has a few tutorial books too.
Donncha Ó Briain
Probably my personal favourite - a seriously stylish player who was a master of melodic variation within tunes, and by all accounts a great character too.
Legendary Co. Clare player, sounds better the more you listen to him, so persevere if his music doesn’t quite grab you on first listen.
A Co. Sligo player with an unorthodox sound and a very smooth ‘rolling’ legato way of playing and some interesting takes on tunes. You’ll have to dig around online to find recordings of his playing. As I understand it, he was a major influence on flute player Seamus Tansey.
I’m not sure whether he was from Sligo, Roscommon or Leitrim, but it was somewhere up around that area of the country. He had a very rhythmic traditional style, and has composed some great tunes that have become firmly implanted in the tradition. He played flute among other instruments as well, but his whistle playing is well worth a listen.
A Roscommon man with a very playful, fun way of playing. He has an album out there that was apparently recorded while under the influence of alcohol if the stories are to be believed (I don’t know if that’s true!), and there are a couple of blogs/sites out there where you can find recordings of his playing.
A player with a great repertoire of tunes and a very unorthodox style of playing with lots and lots and lots of tonguing. I’m not sure I’d personally want to emulate his style with all that tonguing, but he’s a great and unique player who’s definitely worth a listen.
Best known as an uilleann piper, but a great whistle player too. He’s another one of those who you might not fully appreciate on a first listen, but the more I learn about this music the more I think he was a really huge influence on those who came after him.
- Some of my own compositions -
T: The Devil’s Delight
C: Namloc (Dec. 2012)
|: ded ~B3 | GAB ~D3 | ~D3 BAG | ABA AGA |
ded ~B3 | GAB ~D3 | EFG AGF | GBA ~G3 :|
|: dgg dgg | agf efg | edB edB | dBG ~A3 |
dgg agf | efg edB | GBd ~g3 | edB ~G3 :|
|: ded ~B3 | ded ~A3 | ded BAG | AGE ~D3 |
ded ~B3 | ded ~A3 | G (3Bc^d gfg | edB ~G3 :|
T: The Humours of Ranelagh
C: Namloc (March 2013)
|: DGG BGG | Bdg edB | DFF AFF | fed cAF |
DGG BGG | Bdg ede | def gdB | cAF ~G3 :|
|: ~g3 Bdg | Bdg ~g3 | ~f3 ~a3 | fed cAF |
DGG DAA | (3Bcd g ~e3 | def gdB | cAF ~G3 :|
T: The Portobello Slip
C: Namloc (March 2014)
R: slip jig
dge dBG ~B3|ded dBG AGA|dge dBG ~B3|cAc BGE ~D2B|
dge dBG BAB|ded dBG ~A3|dge dBG BAB|cAc BGE ~D2A|
Bdg edg edB|Bdg ~e3 aga|gab age dBG|cAc BGE ~D2A|
Bdg edg edB|Bdg ~e3 ~a3|gab age dBG|cAc BGE ~D2B|
T: The First Day of Summer
C: Namloc (May 2013)
| DG (3GGG AGBd | gffg dBGB | ceee dBGA | BAAG AcBA|
| DG (3GGG AGBd | gffg dBGB | ceee dBGB | ABBA ~G (3Bcd ||
| gdBd edBd | gbaf gedB | ceee dBGA | BAAG G~A2 (3Bcd |
| gdBd edBd | gbaf gedB | c2ec dBGB | ABBA ~G3E ||
T: The High Road to Glasson
C: Namloc (Jun. 2013)
|: EAAB cABA | EGDG EGDG | EAAB cded | cABG EAAG :|
| eaag abag | eaag edBA | ~G3 B dGBd | gedB BA ~A2 |
eaag abag | edef g2fg | a2 ge dBGB | cedB ~A3 G |
T: The Wasp in the Pint
C: Namloc (Aug. 2014)
| BdcA FDDE | ~F3G ABcA | BdcA ~G3e | fdcA dBcA |
(3Bcd cA F~D3 | FEFG ABcA | BdcA ~G3e | fdcA dABc |
| d~g3 fdcA | dgfg afge | d~3G dGeg | fdcA d2 Bc |
| d~g3 fdcA | dgfg afge | defg ~a3g | fdcA d2 cA |
T: Morning Mist on the Shannon
| AG | FEDF AFDF | GFGA BGED | GBdg ecAF | GBAG FAEA |
| FEDF AFDF | GFGA BGED | GBdg ecAF | G3F G2 :|
|: (3Bcd | g3e dBGB | cBAG FADA | g3e dBGB |cedB A2 (3Bcd|
| g3e dBGB | cBAG FADA | GBdg ecAF | G3F G2 :|
T: The Shores of Lough Ree
C: Namloc (March 2014)
|: GABG cABA | GBdB c2AG | FDAD BDcA | (3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3DEF |
~G3B cABA | GBdB c2Bc | dged cAFD | [1 AG G2 DE :| [2 AG G2 (3 Bcd ||
|: ~e3d edBA | gfga bgaf | Add^c defg | ~a3f gedB|
~G3B cABA | GBdB c2Bc | dged cAFD | [1 AG G2 (3 Bcd :| [2 AG G2 DE ||