Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My penny whistles got here!

Yep, sitting here waiting for the carpet guys, and UPS does a drop-and-run!

I got three whistles -- a Clarke Sweetone, a Walton Mellow D, and a Walton Little Black Whistle. Physically, these things are smaller than a recorder, with the Clarke being the tiniest. Yes, the breath control practice with the recorder definitely carries over to the tin whistle. The fingering is different, of course. The penny whistles are much easier to skirl at the higher register than the recorder is. But these whistles each have their very own character.

The Clarke Sweetone is just a sweet whistle. It's really easy to choose which register you want to be in. If you want to stay in the low register, it's easy to stay there. If you want to go up to the high register, blow harder and do whatever it is you do inside your mouth to get there, and it's similarly easy to skirl away up there. (I dunno what's happening up there, I just kept practicing until it worked). It has a pleasingly "chiffy" sound.

The Walton Mellow D is similarly easy to work with, though a little harder to keep in the low register on the lowest D. As you'd expect from its name, it has a quite mellow tone, a bit bland compared to the Clarke. I think of it as a Clarke on weed :-).

The Walton's Little Black Whistle isn't so little (it's about the same size as the Mellow D, but with a smaller fipple or mouthpiece and slightly smaller in diameter tube). This one is a pain. It doesn't want to stay in the low register. It's great for skirling around in the high register though.

My instructional books came in from Amazon yesterday, so now I'm all set! Not that I'm waiting to read the books, I'm having fun skirling away right now. Given that the average price of these little instruments was $5.95, this is the most musical fun for the buck that I can think of, except maybe a harmonica (but most cheap harmonicas are pretty irritating because virtually all of them have at least one reed that's out-of-tune and irritates the trained ear, while all of these penny whistles are at least in tune with themselves).

-- Badtux the Skirling Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/08/2007 10:11:00 AM  


You use your mouth to change pressure to change registers.
# posted by Scorpio : 8/5/07 2:33 PM  

Like I said, whatever it is you do with your mouth to change registers :-). BTW, found a *third* high register on the Sweetone, but I can only hit one note or maybe two out of it because it takes too much wind. Maybe the little black whistle would get there more easily. But I think I'd need earplugs to play it, that sucker gets *loud* up there!
# posted by BadTux : 8/5/07 5:36 PM  

I'm going to have to goggle penny whistles, because I have no clue what you are talking about. sounds like fun though.
# posted by L>T : 8/5/07 6:05 PM  

Oh yes it's fun. Sounds very Irish. I got a book of traditional Irish tin whistle songs that I am going to learn some of, but even just playing around it is great fun to just swirl around and ornament and everything. It's a very forgiving (and cheap!) little instrument that has a great sound, sort of "chiffy" or a little raspy or edgy, unlike a cheap plastic recorder, which sounds like, well, a cheap plastic recorder. I recommend the Walton's Mellow D and the Clarke Sweetone as two of the easiest to play. The Clarke Meg is pretty much identical to the Sweetone and many music stores have a big box of them by the door that they sell for $3.95 apiece, and they sound great, the best $3.95 you'll ever spend. But if you're not already familiar with music, you'll need a good tutorial. The Clarke tutorial will teach you things like how to read music, but you'll need to get a good Irish tinwhistle tunebook too if you want to learn some great Irish tunes to go with your whistle. But you'll need the Clarke tutorial first to learn how to read the notes and finger them unless you're good enough with music that you can just go with a fingering chart and do the job!
# posted by BadTux : 8/5/07 11:26 PM  

one of the cool things about the pennywhistle is that the mouth action is pretty much the same as whistling sin nada. it really is that natural. i'm taking breaks from getting ready for my three day horse pack into the superstitions. pennywhistles are the only music i'm taking. i have a tiny little silver "G" (i play clarkes) that does astonishing echo things. i also have a "D" and a "Bb" (because Bb is an eerily accurate nature key, play in Bb near a creek or waterfall sometime and get back to me)

minstrel "the skirling wanderer" boy
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 9/5/07 7:17 AM  

Music is something I like to listen to but not do. It is beyond me. Although, I do like whistling & practicing bird calls.

Thanks for the information. Now I know what one is. I found a link where you could hear one played. It was pretty.
# posted by L>T : 9/5/07 6:36 PM  

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