The Whistler polka

There are 3 recordings of this tune.

The Whistler has been added to 6 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Three settings

X: 1
T: The Whistler
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
B/c/|d/e/d/B/ GB/c/|d/e/d/B/ GB/d/|gf/g/ ag|A2- A>B|
c/B/A/G/ F/G/A/B/|c/B/A/G/ FA|dc/d/ ed|B2- B>c|
dd/B/ GB/c/|d/e/d/B/ Gd|gf/g/ ag|e2- e>g|
aa/a/ ag|f/g/f/^e/ f=e|(3d/e/d/ c/d/ ef|g2- g2||
b2- bg/e/|d2- dB/d/|(3g/a/g/ f/g/ ag|e2- e>e|
c'2- c'c'/a/|f2- f/g/f/e/|dc/d/ ed|B2- B/G/B/d/|
b2- bg/e/|d2- d(g|g)g ag|e2- e>e|
a/b/a/^g/ a=g|f/g/f/^e/ ff/=e/|(3d/e/d/ c/d/ ef|g2- g||
X: 2
T: The Whistler
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:Bc|dd/B/ GB|dd/B/ Gd|gf/g/ ag|
[1 A2 AB|cc/A/ FA|cc/A/ FA|dc/d/ ed|B2:|
[2 e2 eg|aa ag|ff fe|dc/d/ ef|g2||
|:dg|b2 bg/e/|d2 dB/d/|gf/g/ ag|e2 ea|
[1 c'2 c'a/g/|f2 fe|dc/d/ ed|B2:|
[2 aa ag|ff fe|dc/d/ ef|g2||
X: 3
T: The Whistler
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
d/e/d/B/ GB/c/|d/e/d/B/ GB/d/|gf/g/ ag|A2- AA/B/|
c/B/c/A/ FA/B/|c/B/c/A/ FA|dd Ad|B2- BB/c/|
d/e/d/B/ GB/c/|d/e/d/B/ GB/d/|gf/g/ ag|e2- ee|
aa/a/ ag|ff/f/ ff/e/|dd/d/ ef|[B2g2]- [Bg]g||
|:b2- bg/e/|d2- d(g|g)g ag|e2- ee|
[1 c'2- c'c'|f2- ff/e/|dd ed B2- Bd:|
[2 aa/a/ ag|ff/f/ ff/e/|[Ad][A/d/][A/d/] [Ae][Af]|[B2g2]- [B2g2]||

Seven comments

“The Whistler”

This is another one I’ve known and played for dancers and danced to myself, though it has been some time, and where it originates from, yet again, I haven’t been able to trace, as can be the nature of having learned something with my ears instead of ‘by-the-book’, where some bookish bores and print addicted folk seem to get stuck. If it ain’t in a book, if there aren’t dots to follow ~ they freak out. Well, I admit it here, this is in my head but I didn’t invent it. If I had I’d gladly take credit for this fun little number and say “I composed this!” I didn’t. But, I liked it enough that a little bit of me has likely crept into the memory, the playing, having played it enough that we’ve melded together into something with a bit of my rough about it, naturally, ‘tradition’, a little flattening or sharping here and there - lazy finger or by design, though likely rooted in the many influences that have made me smile and fed my love of the music, and the dance in it, and the playfulness and craic in it, and from whoever I first picked it up from, and all those in any mix with this I’d been lucky to be part of. 😀 Some mixed up sad folk might think of them as cracks, imperfections, and they are welcome to their opinion, if that’s their perception. Maybe so, like in an old painting or the glaze on an ancient piece of pottery, part of the proof of age, and maybe even a failing memory? 😎

Funny, I don’t mind playing with folk who need a sheet in front of them, until they complain that I’m not playing what’s engraved in black ink on the white sheet in front of them, that block between them and ‘live’ music, direct ‘sharing’/‘listening’. I don’t begrudge them their crutch, but they shouldn’t take it as gospel.

I will try to craft a simpler version of this melody to add here for people to start out with, hoping they enjoy it enough to have fun with it and play around a bit and make it their own, still recognizable for what it is, and able to play with others who might have some slightly different ways with it, or who don’t play it off a sheet straight. Getting rid of that muffling wall makes the ears more acute to the subtleties in the playing of others, something I highly value about ‘tradition’, something I like to do, to listen and learn other possibilities and give them a go, part of the sharing, what for me ‘tradition’ is all about. 😉

Here’s hoping someone else will have another transcription of this one, and maybe some tales to tell as well.

X: 3 “The Whistler”

B: “The Fiddlecase Book of 101 Polkas: Irish, Scottish, English, Canadian & American Fiddle Tunes”
Compiled and edited by Jack Perron & Randy Miller
Fiddlecase Books, New Hampshire, 1978 - tune #59
(with minor ‘adjustments’ to the original notation, for example: M: 2/4 ~ | c‘3 c’ | to | c‘2- c’c’ | )

We, my wife and I, have likely danced to this under Randy’s bow and played it in his good company too…

It was this old wee collection that reminded me of this tune, though I tend to play it somewhat differently, as too Randy I suspect.

I know this tune from somewhere. Can’t place it.
The title is not to be confused with a pipe tune of the same name by Archie Kenneth.

I think one of mine was likely inspired some way by this old seed. I’d be very interested to know more of the roots to this one. I was kind of hoping you might know it, or Nigel.

The Whistler

There’s a tune I used to play from the American old-time tradition called “Ebenezer” which has echoes of this, and it’s what I was reminded of when I played Ceolachan’s version. I’m not allowed to put ABCs in the comments, and I’m reluctant to add it as a “setting” as it’s a different tune, so I’ve added it to the database:

Thanks Nigel, appreciated.