Whistle – the basis of Irish folk music

Rarely is Irish music complete without a whistle. Funny jigs, fast polkas, slow soulful airs – you can hear the voices of these authentic instruments everywhere. The whistle is a longitudinal flute with a whistle and six holes. It is usually made of metal, but you can often find options made of wood or plastic.

They are very cheap, and learning the basics of playing is much easier than using a recorder. Perhaps this is what has brought the instrument such popularity among folk musicians around the world. Or maybe the reason for this was the bright, slightly hoarse sound that evokes thoughts of the green hills of Ireland and intoxicating medieval fairs.

History whistled

Different versions of wind instruments can be found in every country in the world. The territory of modern Great Britain was no exception. Mentions of the first whistles date back to the 11th-12th centuries. Pipes are easy to make from scrap materials, so they were especially valued among the common people.

By the 6th century, a certain standard had been formed – a longitudinal shape and XNUMX holes for playing. At the same time, Robert Clarke lived, an Englishman who made the greatest contribution to the development of this instrument. Good flutes were carved from wood or bone – a rather labor-intensive process. Robert had the idea to make metal whistle, namely from tinplate.

So appeared modern tin whistle (translated from English tin – tin). Clark collected pipes directly from the streets and then sold them at a very affordable price. The cheapness and colorful hoarse sound captivated people. The Irish loved them the most. The tin flute quickly took root in the country and became one of the most recognizable folk instruments.

Varieties of whistling

Today there are 2 types of whistles. The first one is classic tin whistle, invented by Robert Clarke. Second – low whistle – appeared only in the 1970s. It is approximately 2 times larger than its smaller brother and sounds an octave lower. The sound is deeper and softer. It is not particularly popular and is most often used to accompany the tin whistle.

Due to their primitive design, these flutes can only be played in one tuning. Manufacturers produce different versions of whistles for playing in different keys. The most common is D of the second octave (D). This is the tonality of the vast majority of Irish folk music. The first instrument of every whistler should be in D.

Basics of playing the whistle – how to learn to play?

If you are familiar with the recorder, understanding the essence of tinwhistle is a matter of ten minutes. If not, no big deal. This is a very easy to learn tool. With a little diligence, in just a couple of days you will be confidently playing simple folk songs.

First you need to take the flute correctly. To play you will need 6 fingers – index, middle and ring on each hand. You will use your thumbs to hold the instrument. Place your left hand closer to the whistle, and your right hand closer to the end of the pipe.

Now try to close all the holes. There is no need to apply force – just place the pad of your finger on the hole. When everything is ready, you can start playing. Blow the whistle gently. Too much airflow will cause “overblowing,” a very high-pitched squealing note. If you close all the holes tightly and blow with normal force, you will get a confident sounding note D of the second octave (D).

Now release the ring finger of your right hand (it covers the hole farthest from you). The pitch will change and you will hear the note My (E). If, for example, you let go of all your fingers, you will get To sharps (C#).

A list of all notes is shown in the picture.

As you can see, whistlers have only 2 octaves at their disposal. Not very much, but enough to play most songs. A schematic representation of the holes that need to be closed is called fingering. On the Internet you can find entire collections of melodies in this version. To learn to play, you don’t even have to know how to read music. An ideal instrument for beginning musicians!

You may have noticed the plus sign in the fingerings. It means you need to blow stronger than usual. That is, to play a note an octave higher, you need to clamp the same holes and simply increase the air flow. The exception is the note D. In her case, it is better to release the first hole – the sound will be cleaner.

Another important part of the game is articulation. In order for the melody to be bright and not blurred, the notes need to be highlighted. Try to make a movement with your tongue while playing, as if you want to say the syllable “tu”. This way you will highlight the note and focus on the change in pitch.

When you can finger and tap at the same time, start learning your first tune. To start, choose something slower, preferably within one octave. And after just a few days of training, you will be able to play something like the soundtrack to the movie “Braveheart” or the famous Breton song “Ev Chistr ‘ta Laou!”

Техника игры на вистле. Ведущий Антон Платонов (ТРЕБУШЕТ)

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