The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #71748   Message #1230420
Posted By: Bob Bolton
20-Jul-04 - 11:50 PM
Thread Name: range of d penny whistle/note problems
Subject: RE: range of d penny whistle/note problems
G'day Foolestroupe,

It's interesting to read of your "natural" whistle, sans any fingering. I actually made a quite similar whistle when I first played around with making my own whistles during the time, in 1965, when I was drilling for tin in Northern Tasmania and living with a family on an old farm which had an unused smithy.

I had used the old hand-cranked drill press to drill holes in scrap copper pipe and used the anvil to shape whistle mouthpieces around mandrels I ground to shape on an equally hand-cranked grinding wheel. After making C, high f and high g whistles (and a straight-bored descant recorder) I tackled some larger pipe to make a Low G whistle. I only got as far as fitting the hardwood fipple and tuning the length of the whistle when I found that the simple whistle kept playing a reasonably full harmonic series.

At that point I panicked and wrote off to anyone who knew anything about about whistles (not many ... or much!) to see if this overblowing and harmonic playing was ever used - but nobody had heard of it. The poor old whistle is probably still mouldering away behind the smithy! (I probably hadn't really made the whistle's mouthpiece all that smooth and even at this stage, so it may have been "richer" in overtones than a smoothly crafted low whistle, and thus more responsive to this type of modulation.)

Since then I have heard of whistle traditions which do use an unfingered pipe (somewhere in Sweden ... ?, in one instance) ... either just by blowing pressure, or by introducing a finger in the bore in much the way of a natural horn. I have also seen reference to Overton's unfingered whistle ... without it really impinging on the old memories lurking deep in my memory. I guess I'll have to knock up a few low G whistles without any holes and listen more carefully to what the instrument wants to do!

BTW: I have not heard of any attempts to introduce pertubations into metal-bodied whistles - it would be far simpler in wooden ones. I have seen websites that regard Terry McGee, in Canberra, as somewhat of a guru on such pertubations in wooden flutes and fifes ... although Terry seems to credit a friend and mentor whose principal area is bagpipes.


Bob Bolton