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getting started with tin whistle

22 Feb 11 - 05:32 PM (#3100640)
Subject: getting started with tin whistle
From: VirginiaTam

I really want to a definitive list of about 4 or 5 easy standard session tunes. Trundling through hundreds of threads about sessions and whistles is getting me no where.

Somebody tell me which 4 or 5 to start with. I don't read music or dots. But I pick up by listening very quickly, so links to any beginner lessons would be greatly appreciated.


While I am at it, I have an ethnicwind low G whistle that seems to condense my breath into a puddle of water as soon as I start playing it. This makes it squeak, Any ideas why this is happening and how to make it stop? I try mopping up with one of those whistle cleaners but it gets between layers in the mouthpiece and I have to wait for it to dry naturally before playing again.


22 Feb 11 - 05:51 PM (#3100655)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Jeri

"Southwind" is a good tune.

Chiff and Fipple is a great whistle website.

You'll have some condensation no matter what, but if you warm the whistle up, there will be less of it. You can cover the fipple and blow the moisture out.


22 Feb 11 - 06:01 PM (#3100666)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Jeri

...and if you combine Chiff & Fipple and your question, you get "MOIST FIPPLE BLUES AND HOW TO LOSE 'EM".


22 Feb 11 - 06:06 PM (#3100673)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Steve Gardham

With a simple instrument like this you would be far better off going at a simple tune you have in your head already. Try a few waltzes without much range on them. Overblowing to get the higher notes doesn't come easily. Like most things it's practice.
Buffalo Gals.
Sweet Betsy from Pike. 2 easy tunes.

Whilst tips can be useful along the way there's no substitute for trial and error and plenty of solo practice.


22 Feb 11 - 06:13 PM (#3100679)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Bernard

Temperature has a lot to do with condensation - if your breath is warmer than the whistle, you'll get condensation... if the whistle is warmer than your breath, you won't... as a general rule.

So keep the instrument as warm as you can, in an inside pocket where practical, and make sure it is adequately warmed before playing.

This, incidentally, also helps it to play in tune. A cold instrument tends to play flat... okay, logically you would expect it to shrink and play sharp, but it's more to do with the way the air behaves inside rather than physical length which only changes marginally.


22 Feb 11 - 06:23 PM (#3100691)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Sandman

get how to play tin whistle, vol 1 by the armagh pipers club


22 Feb 11 - 07:46 PM (#3100747)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Jack Campin

Eamonn Jordan's "Whistle and Sing" is very good if you want to do Irish stuff.

Robin Williamson's "The Penny Whistle Book" is pretty good too.


22 Feb 11 - 11:31 PM (#3100830)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

Whistles are basically diatonic instruments like a harmonica is diatonic. Is it possible to play cross keys on the whistle like cross harping on a harmonica.

D


23 Feb 11 - 12:41 AM (#3100856)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Fooles Troupe

Don't suck - blow!

Sorry ....

A whistle in the Key of D will easily play in the key of G - if you want to call that a 'cross key', I suppose you could.... You can also play in either 'cross finger' mode which means that you close some holes and leave other further down open, or you can 'half hole', which means that you only partly cover certain holes.

A very good player on a good instrument, can even play 'chromatically', being able to get almost every chromatic note not in the normal diatonic key of the instrument. takes skill and practice and good instrument... :-)


23 Feb 11 - 04:04 AM (#3100908)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST

Apart from all the other advice, OP asked

"I really want to a definitive list of about 4 or 5 easy standard session tunes".

Mentioned so far;

Southwind
Buffalo Gals
Sweet Betsy from Pike

Try also

Rattling Bog
The Old Favourite (aka the Kilfenora)
The Harvest Home
The Winster Gallop

Job done.


23 Feb 11 - 04:46 AM (#3100933)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Fooles Troupe

The 'standards' depend on which country she is in, what style of music, Scottish, Irish, English, Trad, Etc, and what the nearest 'local session' plays most often.


23 Feb 11 - 04:46 AM (#3100934)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

An invaluable piece of kit to any whistle player (novice or otherwise) is the whistle mute, which can be quickly fashioned from a matchstick and slotted into your windway at an angle to limit the amount of air hitting the lip, thus greatly reducing the volume (but not the playability!). Essential for late night practising, I believe some whistles come ready fitted.

As I get older, I find I'm using mutes more & more - like on my old low-D which takes a lot of breath unmuted, and is pretty loud as a result. Muted, I can play it easily & quietly, adjusting the volume to suit - you can get it down to a whisper and still have a great tone.


23 Feb 11 - 04:52 AM (#3100939)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: SteveMansfield

+1 for Robin Williamson's "The Penny Whistle Book" - that'll give you loads of good playing tips and a good selection of general starter tunes as well.

Of course which session tunes you want to learn depends on what kind of sessions you go to - a few starter tunes for an English session, for example, won't get you very far at all in an all-Irish session ...


23 Feb 11 - 05:06 AM (#3100946)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,Jiggers

Hi,

Once you have learnt a few tunes try using a continuous breath instead of tonguing every note. This will allow you to play faster.

Jiggers


23 Feb 11 - 05:31 AM (#3100966)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Rob Naylor

The first ones I learned were:

- Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)

- Rakes of Mallow

- The Blackthorn Stick

- Brighton Camp (Girl I Left Behind Me)

I'm fairly useless at the whistle but found these to be relatively easy to pick up, and sound much more tricky to play when you hear them than they actually are.


23 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM (#3101062)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Leadfingers

First Priority is to get a whistle that WORKS ! Feadog and Generation
CAN be either excellent or Crap , which holds with MOST of the bottome end whistles , and , sadly , with occasional Top End brands as well . I wont buy a whistle without trying it , no matter wha the shop says !!


23 Feb 11 - 08:31 AM (#3101086)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,Peter Laban

Maybe reserve the 'top end' designation for the ones that are really good. Most are just expensive.


23 Feb 11 - 10:07 AM (#3101149)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Mo the caller

Most of the tunes mentioned above are tunes that, even if they are not played regularly at the session you go to, everyone will know. And if you say, before you start up "help me out please, not too fast" you won't have to play more than the first bar or so on your own. Lift the roof.


23 Feb 11 - 01:11 PM (#3101298)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,leeneia

Hi, Virginia.

Take a look at this - a site which teaches you to play as if the teacher were in your own living room.

http://www.whistletutor.com/lessons


23 Feb 11 - 09:17 PM (#3101611)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,leeneia

I should have added that I suppose the Whistletutor will recommend pieces to play as he goes along.


23 Feb 11 - 09:29 PM (#3101620)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,Morgana

"First Priority is to get a whistle that WORKS !"

The oak brand of D whistle is a nice one. I've played the pennywhistle for seven years. I started on an oak and a generation. The generation sounded horrible, but the oak (which is the same style of cheap whistle) sounded great, and I've never gotten a more expensive one.

For easy tunes, I suggest "Mari's Wedding," "Skye Boat Song," "Britches full of Stitches," "Tell me Ma Polka," "Road to Boston," and "Scotland the Brave," in addition to many of those mentioned here. Mel Bay's tinwhistle book is a good resource. I don't know if these are common tunes at sessions around you, but I've heard most of them played at least once while out contra-dancing.

To clear the water out of your whistle, you should place your thumb over the hole on the mouthpiece and blow as hard as you can. (No sound should come out when your thumb is over the mouthpiece.)


24 Feb 11 - 05:01 PM (#3102176)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: VirginiaTam

Wow! Sorry.. Been away from thread a bit. Wonderful info and links on here. Thank you all.

Now working on a somewhat embellished Water is Wide and a very simple Tell Me Ma.

I will invest in better whistle after I feel a bit more confident in what I play.


24 Feb 11 - 05:16 PM (#3102193)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Sandman

Leenia,I am glad to see those lessons involve tongueing, despite what some people try to state, some older players from certain areas did use tongueing in irish traditional music


24 Feb 11 - 05:25 PM (#3102204)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Fooles Troupe

Some basic exercises:

Try the octave jumps - with tonguing at first. Then go for the jumps from any note to any other. This works your breath control and build that skill rapidly.

Then try just the scales (there quite a few different scales on the whistle!), then the arpeggios as well - mixing this in with the previous stuff.


Once you can handle the basic techniques such as these, you will find that your skill has improved massively.


24 Feb 11 - 07:53 PM (#3102292)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: maple_leaf_boy

Mel Bay's franchise has "Fun With The Tin Whistle" written by William
Bay. It comes with a C.D.


25 Feb 11 - 03:23 AM (#3102427)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: VirginiaTam

Thanks Foolestroupe... will use that link Leeneia provided to do just that. I have subscribed to the whistle Tutor youtube channel.


I am also trying to revive long comatose recorder skills on Meinel solid maple C recorder.
Think I have forgotten more than I ever knew. :~)


25 Feb 11 - 11:18 AM (#3102637)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: GUEST,leeneia

Oh good. I'm glad you've come back, Virginia. I was worried that certain comments made above had put you off.

C Recorder and whistle are a good combination. The fingerings are so much alike. The F# is different, of course, but I've never found that a problem.


25 Feb 11 - 05:04 PM (#3102815)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Fooles Troupe

"C Recorder and whistle are a good combination. The fingerings are so much alike."

Ahhhh... well ALL whistle/recorders have related fingering.

The 'tin' whistle style with 6 holes in front (and the tabor pipe which has only 3 holes and played one handed) and sometimes a 7th hole on the back for the thumb is mainly diatonic (the normal 8 notes of the scale) - ie has a 'home key'. You can get other keys from it with some work (half holing and cross fingering). It is often called a 'transposing instrument, cause if you have a C whistle (made in the key of C) you can play sight reading from a tune in C written on the staff notation. Now if you take a whistle in any other key , eg D, and play from the same printed music in the key of C using the same fingerings, you will actually play in the key of D. This is why recorders which come in C & F tunings thru the whole family, have different fingerings for the same pitched notes as heard.

The 'early recorder' (think King Henry VIII) is basically almost identical to the whistle, and was diatonic.

Now the 'modern recorder' as reinvented, is actually chromatic - plays all 12 semitone notes in a scale. Thus it needs different fingering, as it has need of more holes in different places to get all the 12 notes.

Clear as mud? ....


25 Feb 11 - 06:37 PM (#3102853)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: Jack Campin

I think Leeneia was referring to a simpler point, which that a large proportion of the notes played by D whistle and C recorder have the same fingering (ignoring the thumb). I find it helpful to think of these common pitches (particularly the notes you get with the G and D fingerings) as reference marks when playing instruments in different pitches.

Not everybody going between the two instruments gets this at first. John Everingham at Saunders Recorders told me he nearly always had to tell customers asking to buy a C whistle that if they were coming from the descant recorder and wanted to play the same stuff, that wasn't what they really wanted.

The 'early recorder' (think King Henry VIII) is basically almost identical to the whistle, and was diatonic.

No it wasn't. Ganassi was contemporary with Henry VIII and his fingering system covers everything you can do on a standard modern recorder and a lot more. His treatise "La Fontegara" is downloadable for free (be warned it's a ghastly example of how make every conceivable mistake in technical writing). This is a Ganassi recorder in action:

Racheal Cogan playing Greek music with Ross Daly

You can also download a facsimile of Virdung's "Musica getuscht" (1511, when Henry VIII was 20) from IMSLP (IMSLP86312-PMLP176555-Virdung__Sebastian__Musica_Getutscht.pdf). Pages 108-109 give you a fully chromatic fingering chart for the recorder - it is somewhat whistle-like but there are crossfingerings. (I haven't figured that diagram out fully yet - it looks like a necromantic sigil and the explanation is in late mediaeval German - but there is no doubt about the chromaticism).


25 Feb 11 - 06:46 PM (#3102859)
Subject: RE: getting started with tin whistle
From: The Fooles Troupe

OK Jack - maybe the KH VIII is not correct, but I have seen paintings of recorders in which there were only 6 front holes. I'm not at home now, but I seem to remember in my collection I have a tiny 'recorder' (top of the 'acoustic range') bought some years ago before the very good music shop was screwed by an incompetent set of accountants and went into bankruptcy - sold as such, which is only 6 holes.

When I said 'diatonic' I was referring to the 6 hole models, not what masters of the instrument can get with cross fingering.