Tinwhistle / penny whistles

Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,703 posts

Oh Robert that's exciting that you nailed the fingering on your recorder after many months of not playing!  You deserve to be proud.  Would love to hear/see you play it sometime!  The sound of recorders is so rich and beautiful.  I agree, a Bb instrument is a wonderful range.  And yeah I hear you on the C minor tunes...yummy!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 weeks ago
231 posts
Lisa enjoy the class, I wish I could be there. I like my generation Bb. Its great for those C minor tunes.
Today I picked up my alto recorder and played it the first time in months. I was beside myself when I got the fingering down on the first try. Playing Whiskey before Breakfast... Have fun, enjoy the snow, we got only rain... Robert.
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,703 posts

Wow, I'm relieved that my first pennywhistle class (of a series of 6) isn't until tomorrow night which means the snowy roads will be pretty well all cleared by then.  If it was tonight they might have had to re-schedule.  Looking forward to it although the first class will likely be a little too easy for me since I've been playing for 7 months already.  It'll be fun anyway though!  jive

Yesterday evening during the snowstorm Brian and I played music in the living room.  His played his fiddle tuned to Bb flat, and I played my low Bb whistle in harmony to the melodies which he played.  It worked out really nicely and was so enjoyable!   Still finding my way around the notes and lots of mistakes, but mostly sounds pretty...wheee!  It's great to be able to choose what kind of instrument I want to play on a given day.  Most go along just fine with Brian on the fiddle.  He's a 'one instrument' kind of fellow..I'm way more fickle.  giggle




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,703 posts

I signed up for a series of 6 classes that will start on March 16...  Taught by NY folk musician George Ward.  I'm looking forward to that!

It's now about seven months since I started playing the penny whistle, and I'm still really enjoying it!

Lately I've been playing in the key of Bb on my lower plastic whistle- trying to play harmony parts to Brian's fiddling tune melodies on his 'Bb fiddle'.  That sounds kind of pretty when I can get harmony passages right.  Still working hard at it, as it's not easy for me!  Maybe in a few weeks I'll be able to record a little video of that without tons of mistakes...(one or two mistakes is always acceptable in my view.)  winker

I threw together a new social fun site for anyone who plays tin whistle and is interested in joining:

http://pennywhistleclub.com/

 

 




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
5 months ago
208 posts

 Lisa  Lisa, Lisa.  that was wonderful.  Wow.  Speechless . 

Back at you later, that's for sure.

Strumelia
@strumelia
5 months ago
1,703 posts

It's now I think about my two month mark at learning to play...I just recorded another short tune today on my penny whistle...Pretty Saro




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Susie
@susie
6 months ago
250 posts

Nice video, Strumelia, you are doing very well. thumbsup

Strumelia
@strumelia
6 months ago
1,703 posts

Bill!  So nice to see you drop in again!  clapper

I have a couple of Dixon polymer (plastic) whistles and yes the tone is a little more recorder-like than the metal whistles.  But I like both types...so alas guess I just have to buy lots of whistles.   lolol   Good thing they are not the same price as banjos.  tmi




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 months ago
81 posts

Good job Lisa. Haven't been here for a while. I've been playing a Susato Oriole in D lately. Nice cheap plastic whistle. Thing I love is how loud the bell note is. (lowest note on a whistle). Very strong. Take any whistle, play with all holes covered. See how quick whistle jumps to second octave. The Oriole gets pretty loud before it "breaks". Another little tid bit I learned. Practice playing tunes keeping your right hand ring finger down on lowest hole. Not all through the tune but when you can. It makes a reference point moving up and down the whistle. A good example is Angeline The Baker. As you start out your right hand is not covering any holes until you go higher in the tune covering all the holes. Having your ring finger on the lowest hole makes it easier to cover the remaining holes. 

Good luck on you whistle path.

Strumelia
@strumelia
6 months ago
1,703 posts

Thanks everyone!  inlove




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
6 months ago
208 posts

Lisa, that was incredible.   I don't know quite what I expected, but you exceeded my expectations. 

You have come so far so quickly.   Impressive. 

Congratulations on learning a new instrument.   Very proud of you.

Terry

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
6 months ago
231 posts

The nice thing about the whistle is that you can spend under $20 for a Generation and it will perform just as well as the $200 whistles.... Robert

David E.Hall
@david-ehall
6 months ago
8 posts

Just to add my 2 cents to this group. A friend of mine ( who built a dulcimer for me ) also builds ( Makes ) whistles. Have a Google at Shearwater whistles

I cannot remember the web address unfortunately. Nice whistles at a reasonable price ( well in the UK that is ) 

Lexie R Oakley
@lexie-r-oakley
6 months ago
348 posts

Really great Lisa, you seem to be getting into playing the songs you like and enjoying it. I liked the tone of your flute.

robert schuler
@robert-schuler
6 months ago
231 posts

I have two high C a Bb and D. All are tweeked. Tweeking makes the whistle sound more even and predictable in the second octave. I have a Tony Dixon polymer low D which is a relatively inexpensive low D whistle that sounds great but takes a pipers grip to play. I don't recommend low whistles for people with small hands.... Robert...

Strumelia
@strumelia
6 months ago
1,703 posts

People still do this dance today, so cool:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOTaFJnuLys




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 months ago
1,703 posts

Here is a little French tune I practice with, called Branle de L'ours (Dance of the Bears).  bearbearbearbearbear

 I've been now playing pennywhistle for about a month...still a rank beginner with almost no 'technique' as yet, but it's waaay fun.   I have compiled a bunch of simple very old tunes to practice with.  I'm typically practicing about 30 to 40 minutes per day...that's kind of a lot for me actually.  winky




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 months ago
1,703 posts

Just a little update on my penny whistle adventure, which I started about a month ago now.

I've been progressing pretty well lately, and am actually enjoying it more and more.  pimento  I can't wait to steal some time to practice every day, and I have a few favorite simple tunes under my belt now- though I can rarely play any tune without a note mistake or two still.  Will try to make a little 'practice time' video and post it here soon.

Finding I like both the polymer whistles and the brass whistles- they have two different sounds and both are real nice.  In general, the polymer plastic ones sound more warm and breath-y a bit like a recorder (great for haunting or ethereal melodies, or for playing while alone), while the brass ones sound more clear and sweet- more useful for playing with other instruments and fiddles for sure.  

Additionally, the lower/larger the whistle, the more mellow and breathy it sounds no matter what it's made from.  I think the lowest/largest whistle is usually a low C, which is an octave plus one note below the standard high D whistle.  I don't see many whistles higher then high E - a note above the standard D whistle.  I do have a high E whistle (rather than Eflat) because it will enable me to play in A ionian on it easily. The lowest whistle I now have is a low G.  Lower than that and the finger stretches get quite difficult, even if using the "piper's grip" as they refer to it.

 

I can really envision playing the whistle as one of my standard go-to instruments, for several reasons:

1) It seems it's quite do-able for me to play and I'm progressing fairly quickly (when you're over 60 this is a big thing, lol)

2) Is not a huge investment, money wise  -Yay for that!

3) Like the Bones, whistles are easy to take along and carry, especially when having to haul around a large minstrel banjo.

4) The whistle is well adapted to play ALL the genres of music I happen to like playing: old-time/Appalachian music, traditional early/minstrel American, traditional European folk/dance tunes, and medieval/renaissance. This is a huge plus.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Kevin Messenger
@kevin-messenger
7 months ago
121 posts

Me too Lisa, I got one last fall in Williamsburg. Haven't got a good tune down yet. Guess I will stick with building dulcimers. LOL

 

Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,703 posts

Well I am of course a beginner to all this pipe/whistle stuff which makes it a challenge, but I found the metal pennywhistles to be very difficult for me to get clear notes on, and not so at all on my plastic tabor pipe, which has a nice clear warm tone.

So as an experiment I ordered two plastic/polymer Dixon penny whistles instead to try- in the keys of high D and low A. (there's a substantial size difference between the two keys).

They arrived today and I am finding them much easier to get good notes on than the metal PWs.  Not sure why but the plastic ones make clearer notes and warmer tones for me.  Perhaps when i get better I can make the metal ones sound better, who knows.

I was delighted to discover that all my diligent tabor pipe practice is helping me here-  the learning curve for these new pennywhistles is way less steep than when i first started tabor pipe.  I can already play some of my favorite simple tunes, with only a few mistakes here and there.... so fun!!

I'm not one for playing lots of Irish tunes, but I can play my favorite renaissance and medieval tunes on these, and also some early folk/country dances from various European countries.  I'm working on some simple French branles, also things like Nonesuch.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,703 posts

Well, it's really cool (and challenging!) to practice on both tabor pipe and penny whistle, I gotta say.  hot

Though they have different fingering patterns to play the same tunes, there is a sort of common thread of logic between the two.  A recorder on the other would be completely different fingering learning curve.  But tabor pipe and PW do follow the same 'increment hole/pressure logic'.  That's is a very inadequate way to try and describe it, sorry.

But what it comes down to is that I think this is do-able.  When I can play a real simple tune on the tabor pipe, I can 'sort of' stumble through it on the pennywhistle, which has more holes available before blowing up into a higher register.  Very fun to compare the two.  I have the plastic G tabor pipe and the metal G pw (both 17" long), and a metal C pw.

I'm finding it easier to get clearer tones on the plastic tabor pipe, but not really sure why yet.  Less holes to worry about leaking air from maybe? 

It's a bear to wrestle through all this and sooo many wrong and squeaky notes.  But I really look forward to my practice sessions and that's the true test- am I having fun?... yes!




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 08/26/16 07:06:08PM
John Keane
@john-keane
7 months ago
253 posts

Patty from Virginia:

JK, Forgot about Possum Cafe, LOL. I just want to see you playing the tuba. I miss Carrie. Please tell her I said hi next time you speak with her. Thanks!

We talked to her last night and she is doing great.

 

John Keane
@john-keane
7 months ago
253 posts

Strumelia:

Lots of great info coming up here- thanks everyone!

 

I did order a couple of pennywhistles, since I'm learning the tabor pipe which seems to have a somewhat similar setup (in some ways).  Maybe taking on more than I can manage, but at least I won't go broke doing it.  dancetomato  flute

I really think that you will enjoy it!

 

Noah Aikens
@noah-aikens
7 months ago
37 posts

I just found this guy called Erik the flute maker. He makes great sounding whistles. But get this - A wooden saxophone!

Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,703 posts

Lots of great info coming up here- thanks everyone!

I did order a couple of pennywhistles, since I'm learning the tabor pipe which seems to have a somewhat similar setup (in some ways).  Maybe taking on more than I can manage, but at least I won't go broke doing it.  dancetomato  flute




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
7 months ago
276 posts

JK, Forgot about Possum Cafe, LOL. I just want to see you playing the tuba. I miss Carrie. Please tell her I said hi next time you speak with her. Thanks!

John Keane
@john-keane
7 months ago
253 posts

Patty from Virginia:

John, if you and Karen play dulcimer with a tuba I would love to see that. Yes I would!!!happys

Check out the Possum Café sample.  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnandkarenkeane

 


updated by @john-keane: 08/17/16 09:44:20PM
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
7 months ago
276 posts

John, if you and Karen play dulcimer with a tuba I would love to see that. Yes I would!!!happys

John Keane
@john-keane
8 months ago
253 posts

Strumelia:

John, do you mean in high D? (not low D)

 

John, can you outline the differences between Native American flutes and pennywhistles, assuming two that are in the same or similar key/size ?

Yes...high D.  I played a low D that Guy had and loved it, but we went with getting two high D's for what one of the low D's would have cost.  They are great whistles.  The major scale vs pentatonic minor scale is definitely a big difference between whistle and NAF.  Another difference is tone.  The Native flute tends to be a much warmer/darker sound and less shrill.  Both tones have a place in folk music, but either can be better suited for specific settings.  There is also a notion out there that Native flutes cannot play a major scale, but they can if you learn a few fingerings above the standard/basic fingering charts.  Hammered dulcimer player supreme Ilace Mears asked me to play a bass NAF on a Celtic tune she was performing at Evart a few weeks ago because she really wanted that dark sound.  No one protested so I guess that it went over okay lol.  Like so many parts of folk music, there is a place for just about anything.  The key (to me) is just to pursue the sound that is rolling around in your head.  Karen and I have even used tuba and didgeridoo with mountain dulcimer in the past, so we're pretty open to trying stuff lol.  

 

Noah Aikens
@noah-aikens
8 months ago
37 posts

I was talking about playing in what's called first position by harmonica players - playing in the key that the instrument is tuned to. A penny whistle is tuned major while naf's are tuned minor. To my understanding most standard naf's (5 hole) are tuned to the minor pentatonic scale. I'll see if I can make a video about it. Any of these instruments can be tunyed differently than the "standard" flutes.

Skip
@skip
8 months ago
198 posts

I found this which may help.

http://www.flutopedia.com/scales.htm

Noah Aikens
@noah-aikens
8 months ago
37 posts

I play the pennywhistle and I think the difference is that the tinwhistle is the major scale while the american flute is the pentatonic.

Strumelia
@strumelia
8 months ago
1,703 posts

John, do you mean in high D? (not low D)

John, can you outline the differences between Native American flutes and pennywhistles, assuming two that are in the same or similar key/size ?




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
John Keane
@john-keane
8 months ago
253 posts

Karen and I recently picked up a couple of Sweetheart D whistles from Guy George.  They aren't inexpensive, but they are incredibly awesome.

Caleb Dan Bennett
@caleb-dan-bennett
8 months ago
20 posts

Check out Becker Whistles. I bought 2 one alto G and one soprano C. They sound amazing. Made from PVC.  $15.00 each.

Strumelia
@strumelia
8 months ago
1,703 posts

Hellooooo..... howdy Anybody here still active and playing their pennywhistles?  




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Well I frinally decided to try a low d..

Ordered and received a Susato Low D.

Big learning curve on finger placement. But I really like the sound of the whistle.

Will keep you posted on how it turns out.

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Anyone have any input on low D whistles? Saw an input about a new Tony Dixon low D at Chiff and Fipple. Good price.

Love my Burke D but don't want to spend that much for a low D just yet.

Anybody?

Beth Hansen-Buth
@beth-hansen-buth
6 years ago
45 posts

Hmm...the Cassette is by Clarke, but the whistles that I have are a C and a D that have a logo that says Generation, and they are Brittish Made. Tin whistles with blue plastic for the mouthpiece.

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Yes Beth.... you need to start playing.

A "D" whistle sounds great with the mountain dulcimer.

Do you have the Clarke with the wooden plug in it, or he Sweetone?



Beth Hansen-Buth said:



I have a pair of tin whistles that I never learned to play. I think I picked up a flute at about the same time and I was concentrating on that for a summer. I still have the Clarke cassette tape, and the book must be around here somewhere, but I never see them both at the same time. 106.gif

I always put the whistles out for anyone to play when I have a music party, and my friend Stephanie always picks one up and starts with it. She can't practice at home because it drives her beloved bulldog, Mabel, totally nuts.

Perhaps I should just put in the cassette and grab one of the whistles and start playing.

Beth Hansen-Buth
@beth-hansen-buth
6 years ago
45 posts

I have a pair of tin whistles that I never learned to play. I think I picked up a flute at about the same time and I was concentrating on that for a summer. I still have the Clarke cassette tape, and the book must be around here somewhere, but I never see them both at the same time. 106.gif

I always put the whistles out for anyone to play when I have a music party, and my friend Stephanie always picks one up and starts with it. She can't practice at home because it drives her beloved bulldog, Mabel, totally nuts.

Perhaps I should just put in the cassette and grab one of the whistles and start playing.

Cindy Smith
@cindy-smith
6 years ago
18 posts
I've played the tinwhistle for many years now and have a lot of them: Clarkes, Susatos, Waltons, etc. My favorite are my C and D Michael Burkes. I play old-time and a little Celtic with a banjo player who also plays guitar, dulcimer, and fiddle and sings. I play dulcimer, fiddle a bit, sing, play whistle, and am now learning hammered dulcimer. The whistle is really fun and goes so well with old-time.
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Hi Kat....yup... great instrument to play with the dulicmer as I tune it DAD. It is diatonic so It is really pretty with a lot of the tunes we play. My favorites are Whiskey Before Breakfast, Rosin the Beau, Simple Gifts to name a few. I have a Michael Burke Session D that I love. But I still love my Clarke Sweetone D.

Kat Johnson said:



I play NAF, but never thought of the tinwhistle, until I saw this YouTube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hnvyrVCLFk

I fell in love! I just Googled up the Clarke Sweetone, and whooo- hooo- what a great price. Guess I gotta go back on line and get one. The sound is so complimentary to the dulcimer. I assume it is diatonic? I have a very hard time matching up my pentatonic NAF's to my dulcies...so far.

Allen Blair
@allen-blair
6 years ago
5 posts

Hey Bill, did you ever get that class together for playing whistle using dulcimer tab? Sounded like a really neat idea ... and one our dulcimer group here in Mt. Sterling/Winchester might like.

 

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

OK, it's obvious that you not only play dulcimer, but that you also play tinwhistle.

So what songs do you like to play when dulcimer players play a song and you join in with your whistle?

Me...

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Rosin the Beau

Simple Gifts

Over the Waterfall

What songs do you think I need to learn?

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Hi Val

Thanks for your input.

Why not Feadog's? Aren't they made in Ireland

My Generations just don't sound as good as my Sweetone. I have a Feadog and it is pretty good, but still not quite like my Sweetone D. I know all whistles have to be played for awhile for you to get the great sound.

Glad your sons also play whistle.

Had a great Christmas with my son when he came home. I recently purchased a mandolin and got to play with him and his guitar. It was great to play with him for the short time he was home.

You make me want to go back to my Generations and give them another try.

Thanks for your input.

Bill



Val Hughes said:


Generation is the whistle of my choise and has been since I was a young lad, having played various types I always go back to the generation. My two youngest sons play generations too.
Keltia
@keltia
6 years ago
14 posts

No, i didn't.

thx for the videos' comment. :)

Bill Davenport said:



Hi Keltia

Love your videos. Need to see you play a whistle. I too like my Feadog, but have you ever tried Generations, or Clarkes?

Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

Hi Keltia

Love your videos. Need to see you play a whistle. I too like my Feadog, but have you ever tried Generations, or Clarkes?

Keltia said:


My tin whistle is also aFeadog (D) & I learn celtic/trad. songs with it.
Bill Davenport
@bill-davenport
6 years ago
81 posts

I agree that there is something about the sound of a cheap whistle. I've always read that you have to go through a lot of Generations to find one good one. I have a Feadog D that is pretty good. Generation brass and nickle, Walton. But I've purchased a many of Clarke Sweetone D andthey are always"spot on" Just love the sound of these.

Love the Michael Burke Session D, but it ain't a cheap whistle. But man does it sing. It was present I bought for myself and does it have an unreal sound.

Always wanted to know about the Bb whistles Carson. Can you fill me in on these?

Carson Turner said:


My whistles are Feadog (D), Generation (Bb, C, D, G), Clarke (C, D), Oak (D), and a wooden Adler in D. I tend to prefer the Generation whistles personally though the Adler has a really nice tone quality that is between a whistle and a recorder. I've considered a Low D but I have an antique "nach Meyer" 5 key wooden flute in D that is a decent sub for that purpose.

I think there's a certain folk music aesthetic that comes with those "cheap" whistles that you just don't get with some of the high-dollar whistles. I like the 'not exactly in perfect tune' timbre that comes with the likes of the Clarke and Generation whistles. Then again, I also like bagpipes and musette tuned concertina. Grin.gif

If you like whistles, Native American Style Flute (NAF) is a pretty fun instrument too and being pentatonic is really nice for just blowing some improv.
Keltia
@keltia
6 years ago
14 posts
My tin whistle is also aFeadog (D) & I learn celtic/trad. songs with it.
 
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