March 14, 2005
This issue of Chiff & Fipple brought to you by the letter
I. REAKING WRITER'S BLOCK
Hi, everybody. I just haven't been able to come up with a good comic "hook" for this issue. I have writer's block. Here are some ideas I considered and rejected:
1. Chiff & Fipple's Gag Order Lifted by Judge: Can Now Tell Jokes About Jay Leno.
(block: All I can think of is the guy's chin and that he's not nearly as funny as he was before he got the Tonight Show).
2. Chiff & Fipple Leaves Prison, Feeds Horses, Meets With Interns
Chiff & Fipple's Undisputed King of Tinwhistle Journalism, Dale Wisely, was released from a minimum security prison over the weekend and will now begin a period of "house arrest," confined to DaleForce One, Chiff & Fipple compounds in Bora Bora, Paris, and Birmingham, Alabama. (block: although you gotta admit seeing Paris and Birmingham, Alabama in the same sentence is sort of funny.)
3. Chiff & Fipple Wrote This Issue In Pajama Bottoms
(block: Not that funny and partially true.)
4. Chiff & Fipple Quits, Ends With "Courage," and Then "What's the Frequency, Whistlers?!"
(block: Perhaps to obscure in its references.)
Ok, I give up. I'm forced to actually do tinwhistle journalism......
Jerry Freeman Tweaks
In my opinion, humble as it is, there's hardly been a more exciting development in the world of whistles in recent years than Jerry Freeman's decision to become a full-time whistle tweaker. Only in America, right? Jerry obtains a variety of the inexpensive whistles, makes changes in them ("tweaking"), and then resells them at a somewhat higher price.
There is actually a long history of tweaking inexpensive whistles. For many years, the only whistles available were the inexpensive whistles. Generations and Clarkes and then a few others came available later.
Initially, players only had the inexpensive instruments and for many years and up until this day, some players preferred the inexpensive instruments. But Generations, in particular, were (and are) notoriously variable in quality from instrument to instrument, a topic written about extensively in this newsletter over the years.
As a generalization (no pun intended) one can say that all of the inexpensive whistles have limitations and problems associated with them, to one degree or another. That's ok, considering the price. Over the years, many players would search for "good Generations" and "good" examples of the various cheaper whistles. And players sometimes modified their instruments. Stories abound: Red hot wires used to heat-treat the wooden blocks in Clarkes. Various changes to the plastic in the Generation mouthpieces--shaving this, dulling this, sharpening that, widening this. Pieces of tape slightly decreasing the size of finger holes, enlarging finger holes, etc. When I interviewed Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains some years ago, he commented about tweaking Generations.
I used to tweak cheap whistles a bit myself, in a highly subjective and amateurish way, and have maintained a little page about whistle tweaking for several years. A handful of people have offered tweaked cheaps over the years, notably Cillian Ó Briain's much admired tweaked Feadogs. I've always been particularly fond of a tweaked Clarke original offered by Thom Larson.
So, Jerry Freeman has been tweaking whistles and his business has expanded and he now tweaks, principally in the key of D, Generations, Shaws, Clarke Sweettones, Feadogs, and Walton Mellow D.
Now, rather than detail and review these whistles individually in these pages, I will say that I think they are all very fine whistles and real bargains. For those who are ready to upgrade from stock inexpensive whistles and who can't put together the fundage for a high-end whistles, this is the way to go.
And, we're fortunate to have a set of excellent reviews of these instruments from Greg Mahan that have appeared on the Chiff & Fipple message board, and on Greg's own website at http://www.tinwhistler.com (CLICK ON THE WHISTLE REVIEWS LINK) . Greg has actually been writing about whistles on the Internet longer than I have. That should scare you a little. Anyway, check out Greg's splendid reviews at the above link.
Flook To Tour USA
Tragically, we don't get many chances to see the great band FLOOK in the USA.
FLOOK are pleased to announce their 2005 USA Spring tour dates.
USA TOUR DATES
Friday 22nd APRIL
University of Hartford
Saturday 23rd APRIL
Sunday 24th APRIL
Shakori Hills Grass Roots Festival
Monday 25th APRIL
Green Willow Folk Club
4 W 5 Cafe
Tuesday 26th APRIL
Kennedy Center, Millennium Stage
Wednesday 27th APRIL
New York City
37 West 26th St.
(6th / Broadway)
Friday 29th APRIL
Pack Place/Wortham Theatre
Saturday 30th APRIL
Sunday 1st MAY
Cedar Cultural Center
612.338.2674 ext. 2
Monday 2nd MAY
Tuesday 3rd MAY
Cedar Rapids , IA
1103 3rd St SE
319 364 1580 / 319 364 1580
Wednesday 4th MAY
Univ of Illinois Champaign-Urbana,
Friday 6th MAY
St. Louis, MO
Saturday 7th MAY
Kansas City, MO
Missouri Vlly FolkLife
Overland Park, Carlsen Center
IV. lageolet joué avec une main derriere le dos!
Several weeks ago I heard from Canadian composer and musician Jean Duval who sent me his CD with accompanying score in book form. "Twelve Suites in Traditional Style for One-Handed Tin Whistle."
Truthfully, I had to wonder if this was a bit of a novelty. So, I get the CD and the darn thing is astounding. It does have a decidedly baroque feel. The playing is precise, lively and fully entertaining. The accompanying musicians are also quite skilled and I have thoroughly enjoyed listening.
And, it's depressing, only because this is the one case in which I can listen to this music and LITERALLY say that the man plays better than me with one hand tied behind his back.
There is a full website on this project, put up by C&F friends Brad Hurley and Steve Jones:
Not Polite to Point
A tentative blog by Dale Wisely
Midwest Regional Fleadh will be held May 7, 2005, in St. Louis, Missouri
Reader offers whistle font
If you're baffled by this:
You install this font in your computer and then you can type the obvious letters for the D-major scale (d,e,f (for F#), g,a,b,c and D,E,F,G,A,B,C) and instead of the letters you get little graphic images of a whistle showing how to finger the corresponding note--first octave with lower case and 2nd octave for uppercase. It works well.
I'm making this font, with explanatory materials, available for download at http://www.chiffandfipple.com/whistlefont.zip
If you use amazon.com, please support chiff & fipple financially by navigating to amazon.com via these links
And here's a link for amazon.co.uk
VII. LUTE RING
Actually, I guess it’s a RingFlute:
There’s been some interesting discussion about this instrument (http://www.ringflute.com) on the Chiff & Fipple board since I brought it to attention there. There’s some feeling that the sound quality of the clip is iffy. There’s some discussion about the ergonomics. It looks a tad awkward to me. And, if you think about how then airflow works on this, it would require a really different approach to fingering because you’d actually have to reverse the usual fingering on the hand closest to the blow hole. Right?
I myself am holding out for a rhombus flute. Maybe a triangular flute.
VIII. LUTE ORUM, NATIVE AMERICAN
For those of you who play the Native American flute, we’re trying to get the Chiff & Fipple Native American Flute Forum going at
Come join and contribute!
IX. REE BILL OCHS WORKSHOP
Free Tin Whistle Workshop with Bill Ochs in New York, Sunday, March 20th
It’s not a workshop about freeing Bill Ochs, although I wouldn’t completely rule out that there may be a need for that at some point in the future.
X. OUR WINDS
The 4Winds is now with Keltic Dead
XI. INGERING BIG RECORDERS
I ran across this image on the web. I gather this is a bass recorder.
XII. LYING TO VIETNAM
The Angela Wisely Story
Let's review. This appeared in the January issue:
Angela is very grateful (as am I) that she has raised about $1500 from Chiff & Fipple folks. Thanks!
Since this issue, three instrument makers have donated whistles which we now offer as prizes. A couple of people on the board have objected to the offering of these prizes to raise money for Angela's service trip. Sorry if you object, but WE NEED MONEY and needing money makes a person neglect ethics.
2 brand new Howard Low Ds whistles. Thanks to Dorothy and Brian Howard.
This gorgeous Overton D, pinkish-purplish, donated by Brigitte and Colin Goldie
2 flutes by Robert Doug Tipple
I've been asked to publish "rules" about this. Ok. Everyone who contributes will eligible to win. I'll figure out something fair.
We'll continue to raise money up through June 1st, at which time I'll draw for winners.
XIII. or you: A NICE ST. Patrick's DAY, WE HOPE.
In celebration of the Irish, here's one of my favorite poems, by Seamus Heaney:
Lord, help us see how near is your kingdom.