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D whistle high notes survey

GUEST,leeneia 28 Sep 13 - 12:17 PM
Jack Campin 28 Sep 13 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 28 Sep 13 - 01:18 PM
Jack Campin 28 Sep 13 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 28 Sep 13 - 02:01 PM
Jeri 28 Sep 13 - 02:14 PM
Jeri 28 Sep 13 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 28 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM
Tootler 28 Sep 13 - 03:38 PM
Leadfingers 28 Sep 13 - 07:27 PM
JohnInKansas 28 Sep 13 - 09:08 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Sep 13 - 03:27 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Sep 13 - 06:10 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Sep 13 - 01:50 AM
Jack Campin 30 Sep 13 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 30 Sep 13 - 06:55 AM
Mr Happy 30 Sep 13 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 30 Sep 13 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Sep 13 - 10:53 AM
Vixen 30 Sep 13 - 01:56 PM
SPB-Cooperator 01 Oct 13 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Oct 13 - 10:06 AM
Jack Campin 01 Oct 13 - 11:49 AM
SPB-Cooperator 01 Oct 13 - 01:00 PM
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Subject: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 12:17 PM

I'm taking a class on Irish music (they've all been fiddle tunes so far) down at the heritage center. The tunes have all been in D or G, and they go up to B above the staff.

I've got recorders, I've got steel whistles, I've got a flageolette by Ralph Sweet ($60) and I've got a Kelhorn Kildare ($48.90 plus shipping), and none of them will produce the high notes. The Kelhorn can go up to G, but not reliably.

I've tried putting tape on them, as recommended by Wikihow. That adds a couple of notes. I've tried holding my mouth different ways and blowing different ways. I've tried opening the top hole a little. That helps, but the movement takes so much control that it can't be done at session speed. So I have two questions:

1. Does anybody have an suggestions for getting high notes out of folk whistles (or flutes) at speed?

2. If you can do it, what instument are you playing?


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 01:16 PM

You need a conical-bore whistle. The Sweetone usually gets up to B without too much trouble, though they have a lot of manufacturing variation. Above B, use a descant recorder. Nearly any descant recorder will go up to third-octave E flat and most will do the E above that, though it won't sound that great.

A small rubber O-ring round the whistle halfway down the chamfer of the labium may help, though it'll weaken the low end. I keep one on my Susato G alto recorder and pull it into place for tunes that go up high.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 01:18 PM

The whistles you have (although I don't know what you mean by 'steel whistles') should all be able to produce the high notes you're looking for without a problem.

Buy your average Generation or Feadóg, they take a bit less air and are not as loud (especially in the high octave) as the ones you have.

Solution, without trying to sound harsh or glib, learn to play well and learn to control your breath to hit all the notes you want. Practice, in other words.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 01:48 PM

And it isn't much fun for another whistle player being in the same session as somebody with a Susato (I can't hear much difference between their models). They always play flat as well as very loud at the top end except for a really expert player. In combination with something more accurately tuned, the result is a godawful dissonant shriek and it isn't always obvious whose fault it is.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 02:01 PM

Horrid things, Susatos. Get enough of them in a hot enough flame and they burn real purty, though.

Leeneia, I'm puzzled. Any damn whistle should be able to hit high B without blinking. This honestly sounds like something two minutes with any whistle players should be able to sort out.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 02:14 PM

I think she's talking about the 3rd octave B. You have B, then an octave up B, then what's up from there. I could usually hit the A (there's at least one O'Carolan tune), which was frightening enough, but not the B.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 02:16 PM

Pretty sure I'm wrong, though, and she just wants the B above the high D, which shouldn't be difficult to reach.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 03:29 PM

Third D or anything beyond should not be something any whistle player would wish to inflict on a listener. Not likely at all Leenia is talking about that.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 03:38 PM

As has been said above, any D whistle, even the cheap ones should be able to play top B without too much difficulty. It's a matter of focussing your breath. That said, most whistles, especially the cheap ones have intonation problems above about G'.

A descant (soprano) recorder has a standard range of two octaves from C above middle C (as does a tenor) and so B' should also be reachable. It's been playing folk dance (aka fiddle) tunes that's helped me to play comfortably above G on a descant or tenor recorder and intonation on recorders, even the plastic ones, at the upper end of the range tends to be better than with whistles. I remember this being tested in a whistle workshop. The tutor was surprised when my pink (or it might have been blue) transparent plastic Yamaha was spot on for top B.

It's possible to get another fifth (up to G) out of a C recorder but several of the notes require you to stop the bell. If you can pull it off, great but there is potential for damage to teeth in the process. There is a fingering chart here with fingerings for the full 2.5 octave range for C recorders.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 07:27 PM

ANY properly made whistle should have two full octaves and at least one note in the third octave , though on a D the top E can cause dogs to twitch .
Personally , I dont like Susatos as most of the ones I have met screech at the top of the second octave .
Its a shame you wont be at Getaway leeneia as I will be running a whistle workshop


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 28 Sep 13 - 09:08 PM

Applying what I learned from playing the third and fourth octaves on saxophone, my causal experience found the instructions given for whistles mostly fantasy, hallucinations, and myths. Much of what is said may work for "true believers" but I found it much simpler to use something different.

The pitch that comes out of the whistle is strongly affected by the "pitch" of the air volume inside your mouth. If you can "tune your head" to match the note for the fingering you use, the note played will generally be produced easily.

If you set the pennywhistle (or whatever) aside and just "pucker up and blow," even if you're not an accomplished "mouth whistler" and only get a sort of "raspy noise" you should be able to detect a pitch. Raising the middle of your tongue slightly inside your mouth will reduce the air volume inside your mouth and should raise the pitch of the wheeze/whistle. If you can "match the tuning" of your head to the note you finger on the p'whistle, the note you want should be played most easily.

The first two octaves should be fairly easy. There is a slight increase in pressure required for the second octave, but very little change in the the volume of air needed.

Practice by playing (G whistle fingerings?) a series of D d D d D d notes without moving anything but the inside of your mouth. Then go on to E e E e E e, F# f# F# f# etc., up the first octave.

Getting the top d' (the +1 of the "2 octave +1" range) may be aided by "leaking" or even opening the topmost hole (with the other 5 closed) but individual whistles vary in whether this is needed. Especially for higher notes, a "sharp attack" will start the notes more reliably than "wheezing into them," although with practice one should be able to "soften" the attack to avoid making everything staccato.

Once you are able to "blow the note" that you finger, on some whistles you may find that "fine tuning in your head" can pull mistuned notes to proper pitch, and/or "bend" notes without changing the fingering - but this takes at least a half-hour of practice once the method is understood.

(The myth that playing excessively high notes requires squeezing down your head volume until your brains squirt out has never been found to be accurate. There is also no - verified - truth to the claim that this is only true because p'whistlers only have "half a brain" to begin with.)

There are numerous other "instructions" that claim to work, but this is the simplest, and most accurate, method I found.

The matching of mouth (and for larger instruments chest) volume to the pitch you want is universal for many wind instruments, although for more sophisticated instruments it's more critical to getting "tonal quality" than just pitch.

John


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Sep 13 - 03:27 PM

Thanks, John and Jack, for the practical tips. I'm paying attention.

For those who talk about a third octave - all I want to do is play a tyipcal Irish dance tune, which often goes from D at the bottom of the staff to the B just above it. On a D instrument, not a C instrument, which requires more cross fingering.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Sep 13 - 06:10 PM

Unless there are specific whistles people want to warn you against (like the Susato, which I'm happy to say I've never encountered) I tend to think it is just a question of practice. I've never been able to get a reliable third D (let alone anything higher) on any of my whistles*, but I've never had any trouble going up to a second B.

*Generation**, Feadog**, Clarke***, Shaw***, Tony Dixon**** (the last being the one I actually play).
** Metal, straight bore, plastic mouthpiece.
*** Metal, conical bore, wooden fipple.
**** Plastic, straight bore.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 01:50 AM

People use different nomenclature for discussing fingerings. My preference, having played sax and clarinet that are often written in "instrument key" rather than in "concert key," would be to refer to the p'whistle with all 6 holes closed as "D." regardless of the "key" of the whistle.

"Blowing to pitch" as I described above should be sufficient for the first two octaves, uncovering one hole at a time bottom to top. Personal characteristics (the size of one's mouth) may affect the range of whistles one can play most easily. I have more difficulty with low notes on an F/Bb whistle than a D since it's difficult for me with my small mouth (you all believe me, I assume) to "open up" enough to blow to lower pitches on the long whistles. The top note or two on a shorter whistle might be a problem for someone with a "big mouth" due to difficulty in "squeezing down" enough to "whistle the note into the whistle."

The d' should be easy with all holes closed, then opening the top hole. The top hole works as a "trip hole" that creates a "disturbance" in the air column "about a quarter of the tube length down" which causes the air column inside to move to the 4x harmonic (2 octaves up) of the D it would otherwise play.

In this case, if you're already blowing to the "octave of D" (d), "doubling up" kicks you fairly easily to the next octave (d') note. (The top hole is about 1/4 of the way down the tube, which works out about right for the 4x harmonic of the tube tonic.)

On more complex instruments like saxophones, clarinets, etc, an "octave key," usually pressed with the left thumb, opens a "trip hole" but below about the 5th of the low end tone the hole is down among the other keys. Once the "G" key is opened the trip hole goes to someplace higher up on the horn, and on a sax the "upper trip hole" is way up on the top of the gooseneck. This all, of course, requires links and levers and stuff you don't have on a simple whistle.

A straight tube, with some sort of device to "make a distubance at one end" will have a particular frequency, since the compression wave in the air is "terminated" at the open end, so the time for a wave to travel down the tube and back determines the pitch.

A "leak" near the lower end of the tube, or "half-holing" the bottom hole, will "suck the end" of the air column up into the tube, although not necessarily all the way up to the "leaky hole," so false fingerings that open, or "leak," a particular hole somewhere at or just above the lowest closed hole can produce a "sharp" by shortening the effective length of the air column. (Writing the equations for where the effective end of the air column is, relative to the easily measured length of the tube, is really messy. The air movement doesn't just "chop off" at any particular place.)

On most simple instruments, such "false fingerings" can produce fairly accurate chromatic scales, and various "fingering charts" provide ways of playing the "notes in between" the diatonic scale notes. Details of the individual instrument may affect the accuracy of the "false notes," so some experimenting may be needed to find a "best set" of fingerings for a specific instrument. The difference between an open hole and a "leaky hole" can make a difference, but controlling a leak between "open" and "half hole" fingering can be difficult. Intonation - perfectly tuned pitch - for the "in betweens" is unlikely to be really accurate against a meter, but can be close enough to not spoil the music.

Slightly more complex instruments, like "Recorders," may have actual "half holes" drilled in to facilitate some accidentals. Covering/opening both of a pair of half-holes is like a whole hole, while covering/opening one of the two can produce a more accurate "leak" (half-hole). A few makers have even made the two adjacent half-holes in a pair slightly different in diameter so you can choose which one works best, but I think that's rather rare.

For most players, figuring out the right one or two accidentals may significantly expand versatility (esp. when playing with groups), to allow adding one sharp or one flat to the key signature; but trying to make a simple whistle into a fully chromatic instrument is likely to take more practice than really worthwhile. It's usually a lot easier to have two or three whistles to handle key changes.

John


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 06:37 AM

The Tony Dixons I've heard have been about as bad as Susatos in the same way - far too loud and badly flat at the top. Shaws and Clarkes are conical bore so they work better high up. Burkes (much more expensive) are parallel bore but also in tune across the range - dunno how he does that.

Third octave D is usually -23 ---. If you can get a third octave E, 12- --- will do it. Unlikely you'll need that for Irish music, but it's routine in Moldavian Hungarian music (on conical-bore whistles, usually in A, balanced towards the high end).


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 06:55 AM

Dixons come in a variety of shapes, loud or not so much. Generalisations are not really helpful. (that said, I have yet to see/hear one I like, but for a variety of different reasons).

Michael Burke uses 'perturbations' (as he calls it) in the bore to compensate for some issues.

As for chromatics, you can always try find one of these


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Mr Happy
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 08:22 AM

Interesting, where would one acquire a keyed whistle in UK?


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 08:25 AM

Hm, now there's the rub: they're Victorian, or at least the one in the picture is, so it's antique shops or ebay.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 10:53 AM

I've found John's tip about raising the center of the tongue to be helpful on the D flageolette. Yesterday I actually managed to play it up the scale from D to high B. This is not something I would care to dwell on in thoughtful solos, but as a way of playing with the group and having a pleasant time, it gets the note out.

Wikihow suggests putting a piece of tape halfway or one-third of the way across the hole at bottom end. That seems to help. Letting the top index finger leak a bit also seems to help.

Also, I recalled something from the C recorder - to get a high B, play the fingering for a G#!


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Vixen
Date: 30 Sep 13 - 01:56 PM

Hi--
If you haven't checked it out already, there's chiffandfipple dot com.

In my experience with a sweet, a copeland, a susato, a clarke and a feadog, the b above the second d is a matter of confidence, relaxation, and zen. When my head is in the right place, it doesn't matter which whistle, the note is there. If, however, any distraction--infinitesimal though it may seem--intrudes on my mindset, the note is impossibly shrill and "breaks".

That having been said, I am at best a rudimentary whistle player, and that b is the absolute top of my whistling range. I have heard tell of higher notes, but have never achieved any of them on any whistle. I suspect I need more confidence, relaxation and zen to produce them.

On the recorder, I'm a bit more adept and experienced and have been able to reach any note I've needed. I don't seem to need as much confidence, relaxation and zen for recorder, though the more I have on tap the better I think play.

I admit, however, that the longer I play the whistles and the recorders, the less I like the way I sound...

I recently heard an experienced actor tell an understudy "get yer back into it", and when I tried that imagery, I found playing seemed better.

good luck--my $0.02, fwiw!

V


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 04:45 AM

The bigger problem I have is ruuning out of notes at the bottom-end. If I am playing on my own I can get round it by playing in a different key, or in a session harmonising on the notes I can't reach.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 10:06 AM

You may be aware of this already, SPB, but one reason the low notes go away is that the instrument is accumulating water vapor from your breath. Keep it warm, swab it out, and have a spare.

Low notes tend to be soft, whatever else we do.

Vixn, I did try the chiffandfipple site. It's hard to believe they don't have anything on the topic of playing high notes, but I didn't find anything.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 11:49 AM

Usually you want the instrument to be full of air at 100% humidity. That's how it's designed to work. There are only two spots where condensation affects anything:

- in the windway, where it shouldn't accumulate once the instrument is warm. If it does you can suck it out, or add a tiny droplet of detergent to make the condensation form a smooth film instead of droplets.

- in the thumbhole on a recorder. This is a nuisance because you suddenly lose the high notes and you can't always see it coming. But it takes a long time playing in a cold environment before it happens.

Neither of those affects low notes. (I think what SPB is talking about is trying to play tunes that drop below low D, like "Lord Mayo" or "Niel Gow's Lament for his Second Wife" in their usual keys; the answer is to get a whistle in A or an alto recorder).

Learning to play dry is a good idea. Your lips should only grip the mouthpiece very lightly, not enough to transfer any saliva.


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Subject: RE: D whistle high notes survey
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 01:00 PM

By low notes I mean going down below the bottom register D on a D whistle *S*. There just aint enough notes!!!


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