Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Some help about whistles and keys

Nick 28 May 18 - 12:46 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 12:58 PM
Nick 28 May 18 - 01:04 PM
Nick 28 May 18 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 May 18 - 01:55 PM
Nick 28 May 18 - 03:04 PM
Nick 28 May 18 - 03:35 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 04:31 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 05:06 PM
Nick 28 May 18 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 29 May 18 - 08:34 AM
Nick 29 May 18 - 11:47 AM
Leadfingers 30 May 18 - 05:08 PM
Jack Campin 30 May 18 - 05:35 PM
Nick 30 May 18 - 06:50 PM
Jack Campin 30 May 18 - 07:07 PM
Nigel Paterson 02 Jun 18 - 05:12 AM
Jack Campin 02 Jun 18 - 09:45 AM
Nick 02 Jun 18 - 06:47 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jun 18 - 07:10 PM
Nick 02 Jun 18 - 07:38 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:46 PM

I think I have a better understanding of this than I used to have but if I haven't (or indeed have) could someone who knows put me right?

We play and sing with a friend who is a very nice whistle player and it's a really nice addition to lots of the songs. The only two major keys we don't currently sing a song in are Ab and Db; and the only minor keys we don't sing songs in are Abm, Bbm, Db, Eb, F and Gb.

My friend has (to my knowledge) D, G, A and C whistles and a couple of recorders.

Sometimes when we play she'll say "ah, a whistle would be nice on that" and we then try and work out which one and usually get it wrong until we find one that works. She can play half holed notes if needed but doesn't want to play loads of them!

So I thought I'd try and understand and this is what I have come to...

The D whistle should be happy to play in D and G major and Bm and Em.
The G whistle should be happy in G and C major and Em and Am.
The A should cover A and D major and F#m and Bm.
The C should cover C and F major and Am and Dm.

So each whistle does tonic and subdominant and their two respective minors?

Am I missing anything else out?

I'll give you an example. We sing Water is Wide in E (E or a B whistle would work if my understanding is corret - but she has neither). But I reckon that it might be able to be played on an A whistle as it only has one instance of a D# in it. Would this be normal or practical? ie To start the scale on the second hole rather than the 6th or 3rd hole which I believe (now) is what it is all based on? It just opens up other possibilities occasionally.

I realise there is a second bit to this which is whether the tune itself works on the particular whistle - ie if the range of the tune doesn't fit the whistle without having to go very high. And that brings in whether it sounds fitting for the song.

But at the moment I'm just trying to check that I have understood what I have been looking at. And whether it applies in the real world!

I hope some of that is clear. Any help gratefully accepted

You might also ask - why all the weird and wonderful keys when we could nudge them up or down a semitone. Two singers in harmony and sometimes the odd semitone makes it sound better to accommodate either a high or low note comfortably.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:58 PM

You can usually go one step sharper round the circle of fifths than the whistle's nominal key - not many folk tunes have a sharp leading seventh that really matters. So, A on a D whistle, etc.

Really off-the-wall keys and mixed flat/sharp key signatures are easier on the recorder and way, way easier with a transverse ocarina (though its range limitations might get you).

And never underestimate what you can do with tape and a power drill.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 01:04 PM

Thanks Jack :)

But (in the unlikely event one wanted to) not the additional relative minor as the fifth might be used? So in your example F#m on a D whistle is taking the p**s because the C# would mostly likely turn up in the tune or song? :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 01:10 PM

We quite like Bb and I'm guessing that is an unpopular whistle key? I presume that an F or Bb whistle is a less common beast?

Just found we do do a song in F#m! So another key off the list. (Kidding)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 May 18 - 01:55 PM

Since Jack hasn't come back to you yet Nick, F#m would be possible on a D whistle.

For Bb, as you say, ideally you'd want a Bb or and F whistle. In the standard ones available, the Bb whistle will be lower if you want a nice mellow sound, the F whistle quite high.

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 03:04 PM

Thanks all very much. Sometimes it's just reassuring to check out that you've understood something rather than assume. And also whether the understanding actually works in real life rather than just in theory.

Until today I hadn't really looked into it so very helpful


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 03:35 PM

Ignore this bit - I was confusing myself on the relative minor

>>But (in the unlikely event one wanted to) not the additional relative minor as the second (not 5th) might be used? So in your example F#m on a D whistle is taking the p**s because the G# (not C#) would more likely turn up in the tune or song? :)

And you couldn't play a G and get away with it so it would have to be half holed to stop it jarring


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 04:31 PM

E whistles are fairly common - a lot of people use them for Scottish tunes in A and most F# minor tunes would fit. I mostly use a D ocarina for the same thing.

Many years ago my mad ex-girlfriend gave me a plastic soprano recorder in B that she'd only been confused by (it's purple with embedded glittery bits). It works as well as any basic plastic descant. I use it mostly for playing along with capo-on-the-fourth-fret singers.

20 or 30 years ago Hopf made a line of Renaissance recorders in just about every pitch. I have them in (baritone) A, alto Eb and E, alto G, descant Eb and E, and sopranino G and Ab (that last one gets me the highest notes I can reach on any wind instrument, since a garklein stops at high G). I missed the D and Bb ones in the EBay auction, annoyed about that.

Another kind of weird-pitch recorder is the German ones from the 20s in A ("sopralto") and D (what in the Baroque was called a voice flute). I have both - the A is nice, the D is crap. They were specified by Hindemith for his "Plöner Musiktag" trio, but it probably hasn't been played that way since WW2. These turn up on EBay reasonably often, mainly in Germany.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 05:06 PM

In addition (maybe not so useful to you if all you do is songs) a G alto recorder lets you do a heck of a lot. You've got the whole range of Highland pipe tunes without overblowing and with added chromatics, and you're only a bit short of the first position range of the fiddle (the high B is sometimes doable). Those two factors make it a great match for Scottish music. I have several G recorders, more than I can currently use: PM me if you want to take one off my hands.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 28 May 18 - 06:26 PM

Very kind of you. I will ask Alison tomorrow when we get together for a practice.

She plays lots of tunes as well. It's just in this particular configuration that its mostly songs and harmonies. My wifes and her voices just blend nicely together and its just easy to do and very enjoyable.

Myself I enjoy sitting in a session playing tunes too.

Never managed to play a blowing instrument in my life personally. Things with strings or keys are more my world.

I think we met very briefly in Whitby some years ago just near the First In Last Out pub

I had a friend who plays Northumberland pipes and if I remember F is one of his default keys


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 29 May 18 - 08:34 AM

Most Northumbrian pipes "in F" (at least the older ones) aren't really - they use a pitch in between F# and F, sometimes referred to as "F-off". Historically it seems to really be G at A=405 pitch, as used in France during the Baroque (the NSP is a descendant of the French musette de cour).

Coincidentally I happen to have a Georgian salamuri (8-hole whistle) in A=405 (why they use this I have no idea). I'll probably bring it to Whitby and hope I find one of those old-school NSP players.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 29 May 18 - 11:47 AM

I remember now when you mention it. The fiddle players used to grimace and/or retune a tad :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 May 18 - 05:08 PM

Generation do a high F whistle ,and Tony Dixon might still have a low F - I am a bit flash and don't mind A and E on a D whistle
In fact , one of my party pieces is 'The Lark in the Clear Air' on a C whistle , starting in A , and then E , D , G , C , F and Bflat
The only octave jumps are first notes , and it DOES need a whistle that will play at least the D in the third octave - That is for the F bit


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 18 - 05:35 PM

A lot of people round here use the MK low F's - much better (and much more expensive) than the Dixon.

Descant recorder party piece: the Bluebell Polka, a tone down first time. Key sequence F-C-F-Bb-F-G-D-G-C-G. Can be done on the D whistle, just.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 30 May 18 - 06:50 PM

Bluebell polka. Haven't played that for ages.

Jack I've passed the info on about the recorder. Probably a 'no' I think but if different can I come back to you?

Thanks again


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 18 - 07:07 PM

Fine. If you're at Whitby, I'll have them with me. The flat key session is where my A flat sopranino gets its annual outing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nigel Paterson
Date: 02 Jun 18 - 05:12 AM

Nick, I took the liberty of copying your initial post & sent it to a friend of mine. Here is his reply:

Hi Nigel Wow lots to answer. You are on the right track re keys and what whistle. Often the cross key is better for songs as it gives more options like extra bottom notes below tonic and still often enough up top if you get my drift. All depends really on where the melody sits. I will use an alto G often for a song in C. You need to be careful with soprano whistles as they can get a bit scary up high with the female voice. My Caroline doesn't like singing with soprano whistles. Mind you my Shearwater Brass soprano whistles she is more happy with for some reason. I actually make E, C# and Alto Bs if you are interested. You name it I can do it. It can be frustrating when you have missing notes on a whistle as it's often the one you need. Hope this helps. Happy to talk more but as I said I can make strange key whistles. Cheers John.

The John in question is John Bushby, whistle maker, luthier etc, etc. His FaceBook page is fascinating. He is also a fine, folk musician in his own right.
                                                 Musically,
                                                                Nigel.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jun 18 - 09:45 AM

You may already realize this, but recorder keys are named for the all-fingers-down note, which means one finger more than on whistles - an alto recorder in F plays much like a low whistle in G but with a low F stuck on. And alto F recorders are much better value for money than low G whistles.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 02 Jun 18 - 06:47 PM

I have learned a lot in this thread which I really appreciate

I think that I understand the cross key thing ie that depending on the range of the song one whistle often fits better. And often that’s the one that allows you to go down from the tonic note as well as up

I see that when we play and sing that one works better

Let me put a bit of context here. These are things from practice not finished things but what prompted me to understand more about how whistles work with guitars and voices

2 4 5 and 12 have whistles on
Practice things 1
and 1 on this one which was one of the questions about E on an A whistle
Practice 2


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jun 18 - 07:10 PM

There is a name for the tune structure you're talking about - a tune is in an "authentic" mode if its tonal centre is at the bottom of its range, and in a "plagal" mode if the to al centre is in the middle. Western art music lost the distinction in the Renaissance but most systematic theories of melody around the world still know about it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Some help about whistles and keys
From: Nick
Date: 02 Jun 18 - 07:38 PM

For my ears - a bit like Nigel’s post if I have understood it - I prefer the sound of lower whistles because to my ears they fit more with voices.

Playing tunes is different. And often n a session having a high instrument singing out somewhere in the mix of things is just beautiful.

A lot of songs have a range of an octave to an octave and a third. Some songs an octave and a half but much more rarely. I think all the songs I posted are under an octave and a half. I haven’t checked!

And instruments have a much greater range than most human voices that you would enjoy listening to in a folk context.

So my understanding is that you try and pick a whistle that can not only play the notes but play them in a range that fits with the voices and the range of the notes in the song? If that makes sense? I may not be explaining what I mean well


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 November 3:37 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.