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9 messages

Help - multiple keys on whistles

13 Oct 01 - 07:07 PM (#571447)
Subject: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Hilary

Please help, I'm getting confused.

I'm comfortable playing C,D,Eb whistles, less comfortable with Bb & G so I'm just thinking about the first three for the moment.

D & G fingerings are straightforward to play which produces ( I think )

Whistle Fingering Major (& Minor Keys ????) D D D Bm C D C Am Eb D Eb Cm D G G Em C G F Dm Eb G Ab Fm

I'm fairly confident up to the major keys on the Eb, but have I got the minor keys produced right ???? My 'thinking' is shown below.

As going back a LONG way to music lessons at school, Am has no sharps/flats like C, base note/doh of A Em has 1 sharp like G, base note of E Bm has 2 sharps like D, base note of B Etc etc

This is where I think I may have missed something Does Em having 1 sharp (like G) mean I can play G fingering on a C whistle to produce Dm ??? And Bm having 2 sharps mean I could use D fingering on an Eb to produce Cm ???? (just as examples to test the theory)

If I'm way off - please just point me in the direction of a suitable tutor book/site.

Much thanks

13 Oct 01 - 07:25 PM (#571461)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Hilary

Please ignore the paragragh 'whistle major minor ... On my screen it was a well laid out table, sorry.


13 Oct 01 - 08:18 PM (#571475)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: IvanB

Hilary, the simplest answer to your question is that you're correct. Just realize that the minor keys available in the 'D' and 'G' fingerings you've described above won't always lie in a good playing range. For instance, since the relative minor to D is Bm, the root note of the scale would, of course, be 'B.' Thus, for any Bm tune which resolved to an ending B, you'd be playing most of the tune in the second octave of the whistle and possibly even the third. Could get pretty shrill.

13 Oct 01 - 08:23 PM (#571478)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Bernard

Although major keys share their key signatures with minor keys, there are subtle differences.

For example, C major is


but A minor (harmonic) is

A B C D E F G# A

and A minor (melodic) is

A B C D E F# G# A G F E D C B A
(different ascending and descending).

This isn't too much of a problem because folk music tends not to follow 'classical' key theory, it tends to be 'modal', so you don't necessarily need to worry about the G# or F#...

It's better to abandon key theory altogether, and see what fits!

I find that using a D whistle to play in Em usually works okay, which means that you'd use your Bb whistle to play in Cm, or possibly an F whistle.

The range of notes in the tune would be the deciding factor - some tunes, such as 'Lannigan's Ball' or 'God Rest Ye merry, Gentlemen', can be easily played in Em on a D whistle, as the lowest note would be D.

Email clicky (in case you can use some MIDI files!).

14 Oct 01 - 09:37 AM (#571719)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: weepiper

Hilary, here is a blueclicky to a good tune archive site which also has reams of stuff about whistles that may be helpful. Cheers

14 Oct 01 - 11:36 AM (#571754)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Hilary

Hi folks, Thanks Weepiper,the link is great & leads onto allsorts of other pages I hadn't found before. I now know what a fipple is - but not yet what a chiff is. Can you get paid time off work to recover from WhOA ??? (Whistle Obsssive Acquisiton Disorder). & thanks Bernard, it was the problem of fitting tunes onto whistles I was trying to get (my head) round. It's very frustrating to run out of holes at the bottom of he whistle. I certainly found out lots of tunes don't fit standard major/minor patterns when I tried transposing tunes & then trying to say what key it was in. It's a good excuse to keep practising rather than mowing the lawn.


14 Oct 01 - 01:38 PM (#571840)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: John P

D whistle:
D, Bm, G, Em
Some tunes in Am, A, and F#m.

C whistle:
C, Am, F, Dm
Some tunes in G, Gm, and Em.

Eb whistle:
Eb, Cm, Ab, Fm
Some tunes in Bb, Bb minor, and Gm.

Note that G turns up on both the D and the C whistles. Try both if you have a G tune. Em turns up on both the D and C. Gm turns up on both the C and Eb. Find the one with the best fingering and the best range.

Spend some time trying things that shouldn't work according to all the rules.


14 Oct 01 - 01:53 PM (#571859)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Ditchdweller

I just pick up whatever one is convenient and start playing. (Or should that be start trying to play???)

15 Oct 01 - 04:40 AM (#572273)
Subject: RE: Help - multiple keys on whistles
From: Geoff the Duck

On the problem of notes falling off the bottom of the whistle a friend who is an excellent player simply uses the strategy of moving the phrase up or down an octave, to keep a run intact. It may be technically incorrect, but it works.