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Whistle Players Wanted

18 Oct 02 - 12:53 AM (#805854)
Subject: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Whether you are an expert whistle player or just a beginner, I have something free for you to try. It doesn't matter whether you can read music or not. The only requirement is that you have a tin whistle in any key, have some degree of vision, be a PC or Mac user (or have quick access to one with a simple printer).

I will send you some whistle tunes/songs in pdf format (Adobe Acrobat) using a new font that I'm building just for tin whistle tablature. I'm no whistle player, so would appreciate any feedback as to musicality or anything else that I may have missed in terms of fingering positions.

Quick details:

Note Range - Middle C (nominally) to 2 octaves above Middle C (C to c').

Accidentals - All, but I would appreciate some advice as to how to play C# and c#.

Fingering Positions - My first attempt will use cross fingering for accidentals. I understand that this may not always work, but I really need your feedback please. (I can amways build another font later to accomodate the hal hole variants).

Time values - The first issue will not include any timing information for each note. Later on I'll include in standard tablature.


- Finalise the font design, it may take a few goes. Initial DIY font will be PC followed by Mac.
- Distribute it to interested parties. That means that anyone with a word processor can create and print their own tablature for whistle.


- Use any tune in ABC format to create whistle tablature. I hope to cobble together some software to do this for PC, but haven't a clue about Macs (macusers may have to use Barfly for this).
- Use NoteWorthy Composer to generate standard notation with whistle tablature.

If you'd like to help out please drop me a line at . I should point out that this is not a commercial operation, merely one of my ways to encourage others to play music.

Regards, John

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18 Oct 02 - 01:03 AM (#805857)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: alison

count me in John

range on a whistle goes from D to D 2 octaves higher (on a D whistle obviously......)

C# is played with no fingers over the holes



18 Oct 02 - 03:48 AM (#805892)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Sarah the flute

I'll give it a go. Is it just for C whistle or are you planning for other keys too? Most tunes will be in D & G therefore D whistle is more common. Also high G and F whistles AND the E whistle (which they don't make enough of ) very useful when you have fiddle players who like choosing silly keys to play in!!!!!


18 Oct 02 - 04:24 AM (#805902)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane


Initially I'll simplt transpose all tunes to C and then produce the tablature. For the masochists among you it could be used to produce TABS that gave the fully chromatic fingering for a tune in E or Ab on a C whistle (or F# or Bb on a D whistle). My first step though will be to concentrate on tunes where the range of notes is no greater than 2 octaves. You can then play using any whistle you desire.

Cheers, John

18 Oct 02 - 04:54 AM (#805912)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Dave Bryant

When I saw the title of this thread, I thought it was going to continue: - for suicide missions in Iraq !

...Ducks and runs for cover (they might be shooting curare-tipped darts).

18 Oct 02 - 05:19 AM (#805926)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: smallpiper

Count me in will email you later.

18 Oct 02 - 06:34 AM (#805950)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Peter K (Fionn)

John, for folk/traditional whistlers (are there any others?) you'd be better transposing everything to D, which is the "home" whistle for most. Few would be comfortable sight-reading music in C.

I wonder if you had already made the mental transposition to D when you were asking how to finger C/c sharp. This is how Alison has read it, and has given you the fingering as it is on a D whistle. On a C whistle you would get it by covering five and a half holes.

18 Oct 02 - 09:41 AM (#806054)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: PeteBoom

No Dave, that would be "Bodhran Owners Wanted"...


18 Oct 02 - 11:52 AM (#806133)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: weepiper

I agree with Fionn, I find it horrible sight-reading music in C. Actually I find reading anything out of A hard but then I'm a piper principally. D I can just about read.

18 Oct 02 - 12:05 PM (#806149)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: GUEST,Parahandy

Count me in as well! AN excellent piece of work. do we need to email you for this? If not my email is Thanks again

18 Oct 02 - 01:03 PM (#806186)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: jeffp

I'll be happy to help, too. I do, however, agree with Fionn about transposing to D rather than C. I'll send you my email addy.


18 Oct 02 - 03:20 PM (#806289)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Leadfingers

I 've got to be in on this if only to keep up my position as the best and most modest whistle player on the Folk circuit.

18 Oct 02 - 06:20 PM (#806413)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Snuffy

But it's in whistle tablature, so the holes are the same whether you play it on a C, D or any other whistle. The key is irrelevant.

Doesn't the Alternative DT provide whistle tabs as well as sheet music? I can't find it in the links at the moment.

WassaiL! V

19 Oct 02 - 07:31 AM (#806584)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Kaleea

Dave & Pete, please, don't give away the secret New Bush back-up plan!
For Your Eyes, only:
We have decided that in the interest of National Security, we may need to engage our New Bush JR. Back-Up Plan herein referred to as NBJBUP).
In order to anihilate Iraq we require the use of the little known procedure of drafting specific musicians. No one can be told of this secret project! We will be sending our bravest Tin Whistle & Bodhran players to an out of the way location near Baghdad, to infiltrate the country. They will then enter the city with instruments cleverly hidden in secret pockets in their long robes, proceed to specific locations around the city marketplaces, which are marked on your maps, disguised as merchants, and begin to play, as if they were merely getting the attention of their customers. As the people gather around, the whistlers will get our their "F" & "G" whistles, and thus anhilate the population by shattering their eardrums, unless, of course, they say "Uncle" and they are taken into custody for the traditional brainwashing procedures and taught to play tin whistle & bodhran.
NOTE: Guys, be sure you have your ear plugs WITH YOU THIS TIME! We must not have a repeat of the old Desert Storm Bush Back-Up Plan and blow out each other's eardrums thus ending the mission prematurely!!
You will find an extra set in your backpacks! DO NOT REMOVE UNTIL YOU GET INTO POSITION TO PLAY!!! Then remove from backpacks & place them into your ears according to the procedures we practiced over 10,000 times, & begin to play!!
No time must be wasted in implementing this project! Remember that the President is counting on all of you to complete your mission successfully!
NOTE: LeRoy, please don't forget to take your moustache glue, as the last time we tried this, they figured out what you were up to when the moustache & beard fell off! We don't want the media to report endlessly on that one again!
Good Luck, Gentlemen!

19 Oct 02 - 08:53 PM (#806970)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

20 Oct 02 - 09:48 PM (#807502)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Thanks very much for the interest to date. I'll be replying individually later in the week.

It has probably been covered above, but I'm converting to C Major on;y as a common basis to allow each note of the scale to be represented by a unique keyboard character. Clearly you can use any whistle you like by following the standard tablature. I'll need some further help about the better ways to handle tunes in minor keys (dipping down to A,) and Modal (down to Bb) - I'm sure you guys know these tricks, presumably playing up a Fourth or Fifth to minimise the number of accidentals.

Yes this is virtually the same TAB style as used in Yet Another Digital Tradition. I was unable to track down the author, so I've built my own. The other major differences are (a) you don't have to rely on YADT to create your own tunes, just use a simple word prodessor (b) you should be able to use standard ABC notation as input, why re-invent the wheel (c) I've added new symbols for rests, bar lines and slurs - and any other symbols that you people may ask for (d) you should fairly easily be able to add your owh whistle tab to existing scoring programs such as NoteWorthy or the iabc and Skink freebies - by using the lyric line features. Just paste in the name of the notes rather than the lyrics.

I haven't yet created the font for C# (in the key of C). I'll use Fionn's advice re 5.5 holes otherwise - thank you. For all other accidentals I've used the fingering at YADT, however my notation for the the first and second octave variations on C may be contentious.

It'll be no great drama to create a second (or third) set of fonts which use half holes as the norm, but my first effort uses cross fingering.

This is evolution as opposed to revolution. I'll be back in touch when I get a bit more time. I haven't forgotten about Macs, but I'll concentarate on Windows first.

Regards, John

21 Oct 02 - 08:36 AM (#807690)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Dave Bryant


The latest plans also include self-detonating kazoos !

21 Oct 02 - 08:45 AM (#807696)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Ps - if there's a gnerally accepted view as to the cross fingering pattern for C# (in the Key of C) I'd probably pefer to use this in the first instance. At the end of the day however it has to be usable for players, so I'll be guided by your advice. I can't think of any trad tunes offhand that use C# in the key of C Major, but there's sure to be some in other modes.

If/when I create some PDF's ising a mix of standard notation and TAB I'll try to stick to D Major, as requested above.

I'm getting ahead of myself but this approach could be used for other fingered instruments from pipes to sax or clarinet or flute. If anyone requires any further info please let me know.

Regards, John

24 Oct 02 - 09:49 AM (#810111)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

John/Julie - Thanks for the offer to be part of this trial. Can't reach you on email. Has your ISP gone bust?

Regards, John

24 Oct 02 - 10:42 AM (#810160)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: Pied Piper

Hi John.
What fingering have you adopted for the Bb in the key of C (C natural in D)?
The one I use on generation type whistles is
    Fipple end 0 X X X 0 X but other players on different Whistles use 0 X X 0 0 0 or 0 X 0 0 0 0.
    I think the only way to get C# and c# is by half holing.
   All the best PP

24 Oct 02 - 05:36 PM (#810485)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: vectis

I can almost play whistle. I'll volunteer to be your beginner. It sounds like an interesting project. PM me with details please.

24 Oct 02 - 08:36 PM (#810610)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Hi PP,

I've used OX0000 (same as used at YADT), but I'll take my lead from real players. I can whistle up a dog, but not with those plastic and metal contraptions - I've learned more about playing a whistle in the last week than in the previous XX years.

Please let me know at if you'd like to receive a sample pack.


You'll be playing in no time! I've sent you a PM.

Perhaps my next project should be notation for didgeridoo.

Regards, John

28 Oct 02 - 06:49 AM (#813004)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Hi Whistlers, a couple of family emergencies have arisen which means that I'll be a thousand miles South in Melbourne from tomorrow for about a week. The up-side is that I hope to get to the Maldon Folk Festival this weekend for a couple of days.

I can't count on getting to a PC in the interim, so please bear with me until after Melbourne Cup Day.

Regards, John

07 Nov 02 - 08:56 PM (#821214)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: CDon

Hi John,

I have returned home, and see that you have returned home also...

What is the status of the whistle font project? I would love to have a copy of the font and participate in the evaluation if you need some additional input.

Huntsville, AL

09 Dec 02 - 09:02 PM (#844229)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: John in Brisbane

Into each life some rain must fall - and I've had some virtual cyclones in the last eight weeks. Please forgive me for lack of progress in that time.

For those people that I have not yet sent the sample font, please drop me a line at

Any Mac users out there? I can create a MAc version of the font if there is any demand.

Regards, John

09 Dec 02 - 11:23 PM (#844295)
Subject: RE: Whistle Players Wanted
From: alison

sorry John, but I can't make head nor tail of it.... I fully admit to not being particularly clever with the computer though...