FEBRUARY 3, 2002: SuperBowl, Olympics, K-Mart, Enron
I. THE CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING
Hey! It's SUPERBOWL SUNDAY! I'm so excited.
Well, Chiff & Fipple cares because, as all of you know, we are the official "Tinwhistle On-Line Journalism" source at this year's SuperBowl.
This will be good practice for our Chiff & Fipple Sports Bureau, because, of course, we'll also be working the Winter Olympics.
Look carefully at this banner. It fooled me at first. The figure on the left is ski-jumping, obviously. At first glance, you might think that the figure on the right is a downhill skier. Actually, this is a whistle player. That's a low A in his left hand. If his posture seems weird, it looks to me like he's in a pub and he's, well, falling down and he has his right hand extended to try to catch himself before he crashes to the pub floor. I think this is a good way of depicting the whistle player and, you know, you don't see that many action shots of whistle playing.
Incidentally, back to the SuperBowl, 3Fish Productions (Chiff & Fipple's parent company) snapped up one of those remaining $2,000,000+ advertising slots. Be sure and watch for our commercial tonight.
II. Chiff & Fipple, Enron, and K-Mart
(parent company of Chiff & Fipple) is considering buying K-Mart and
converting hundreds of stores into whistle "superstores." Here's a
rough plan for a typical store layout.
Thanks to the folks at INDUSTRIAL LIGHT & MAGIC for graphical assistance.
We had a discussion about this on the message board, and decided that the best name for the chain will be TOOTER'S.
Note: The idea of
having just one employee per store saves money on overhead. This should help
offset the cost of rent, which is expected to be kind of high. That, my friends,
is just good business sense.
For those of you interested in the "business" side of things and who are skeptical that this deal will work: Listen. I TOOK a course in economics in the 1970's. I remember some of it. The simple but brilliant financing concept works like this:
3Fish buys out Enron stock. (Low)
3Fish sells Enron stock. (High)
3Fish uses profits from that sale to buy K-Mart stock (low)
3Fish converts K-Marts into Tooter's chain, makes huge profits, sells stocks, and retires to the 3Fish compound in New Zealand.
I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work. We're going to "leak" this information to the press. So, watch what happens to K-Mart stock tomorrow!
P.S. Thanks to interns
Jennifer, Anna, and Nicole in the Chiff & Fipple Mergers & Acquisitions
Department, and to interns Jacqueline, Caroline, and Elizabeth in Research &
Development, for putting in a lot of overtime on this.
III. LEARN FROM THE BEST
I will be giving whistle workshops in Seattle on Saturday, February 16th,
and Sunday, February 17th, in connection with The West Coast Uilleann
Pipers' Tionol 2002, sponsored by The Irish Pipers' Club of Seattle.
The workshop schedule has not been finalized, but when I was at this
event in 2000, I gave two whistle workshops on Saturday and one whistle
workshop on Sunday morning. Many participants attended all three
sessions. I will again be working with advanced beginner/intermediate
whistlers on the basics of playing dance tunes, and with more advanced
players on ornamentation.
Preliminary details about the event (venue, cost, how to register) are
Specific schedule details will be posted on the IPC site closer to the
date of the event.
IV. RONALDO REYBURN LOW WHISTLES
I get lots of good reviews on Ronaldo Reyburn low whistles. Here's one.
Use your site often - keep up the good work. I'd like to post a comment
in support of Ronaldo Reyburn's Low D whistles which I found originally
through your site. I don't know how to do that correctly so I thought I'd
send it along and let you put it where it belongs.
I'm a recent soprano D whistle player and an amateur.
I wanted to play the Low whistle and purchased a low cost low D last spring
(2001) but I could never break through the pipers grip barrier, and the few
notes I managed sounded awful .... I'm sure others have given up in
frustration also. In October while web cruising I happened on your link
to Reyburn Low Whistles. I had called more than one maker but some did
not return calls or EMAIL. Ronaldo did, and I spoke to him on the phone
(more than once) and was impressed with his honesty and imaginative
approach and ordered an offset fingering Low D. He told me if I didn't
like it he'd switch it for a regular Low D -who can do better than that.
The whistle arrived in early November and it's been much fun since. The
issue I was most concerned about - fingering the bottom hole with my pinky
- turned out to be a non issue within a day. Isn't the brain an amazing
thing. Yes I can play it with the pads of my fingers - similar to the
soprano D although as I relax I find myself playing a (modified) pipers
The whistle is obviously the work of a fine craftsman, and even my teacher (a 20 year whistle and flute player) has commented on the tone. So in summary, anyone out there considering a higher quality whistle would do well to talk to Ronaldo. I was so impressed with the difference in quality of tone over my low D PVC whistle, I purchased a Burke brass soprano D whistle to replace the lower cost whistles I had been playing. I'm not a bit sorry.
The whistle plays well through both octaves, I've had no problem with the
wooden head on the brass tube and I live in a very dry area of North
In summary Ronaldo has been a pleasure to deal with, very professional and
his whistles are exceptional in my opinion.
ask Dr. Fipple
This week's question comes from Jennifer Styles of Woodstock, Georgia.
Chiff & Fipple is all about tinwhistles and about the crazy, mixed-up people that make them and play them. Here is a picture that may help you.
This is a tinwhistle--and it sort of illustrates what Chiff & Fipple is about. It may remind you of food in some ways and it may remind you of a pyramid. It reminds me of this and many more things.
Now, let's look at an actual picture of the Food Pyramid.
To tell the truth, Jennifer (and we should always try to tell the truth), I don't really know too much about this. As far as I can tell, the Food Pyramid is some kind of new way of storing food. I heard some time ago that pyramids have some kind of magical ability to preserve the bodies of Egyptian royalty dudes that have "passed away" and are buried in them. I guess they've figured out that pyramids will preserve food, too. Of course, why we would need something like this when we have refrigerators is beyond me, although I guess they would save electricity. We should always try to save electricity. Ask you parents to turn out all the lights in your house. You can all sit around in the dark and tell ghost stories. It'll be fun!!
I hope this has helped you with your question.
How is Chiff & Fipple different from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?
Issue #1 of Chiff & Fipple FOR KIDS!
Back to chiff & fipple
V. NEW GUY
I recently changed the introductory message one gets when one subscribes to Chiff & Fipple to include an invitation for new members to write us and introduce themselves. This has been a great thing, and I'm getting lots of fun ones. I thought I'd pick a good one to share.
(Yes, most people who write call me "Dave." I don't mind--it's an easy error to make being so close to my actual name. However, one person this week wrote and called me 'Chip'. Go figure.)
In response to your welcoming email, I stumbled across Chiff & Fipple while searching the net for instructions re the Clarke D whistle I purchased from the shop down the road from work. I was looking for info such as which end to blow into etc.
What can I tell you about me though? Australian ( the antipodies not central Europe) from my 'wideawake' (felt hat) protecting my hairless head to my bootlaces; Surveyor by trade; Blacksmith by choice! And, dare I say, approaching middle age...or is that midlife crisis?
So why at this stage in life take up music, particularly Celtic music? A Celtic tune or song will stop me in my tracks every time. It affects me. Playing myself means that I can relive that feeling at my beck and call not the disc jockey's nor the band that's on stage. Then why the tin whistle and not a fiddle or a hurdie gurdie or something else? Neither surveyors nor blacksmiths make very much money for a start, although they ought to. So cost was a major factor. I wanted something I could whip out of my back pocket when ever I had the urge to play a tune. I needed something that required insertion into the singing hole for unfortunately singing is not a forte. And it had to be an instrument that was as common as muck in Celtic music circles. The choice was obvious.
You've probably guessed that I am a rank amateur (NAH!--DW) but practice is paying off. I'll give it a couple of years to reach concert standard. Is that enough time? It has to be reasonably fast as the family can't stand the squeaks and pops etc. When will they realize that a cry of "SHUDDUP" only makes me try harder!
At this stage I can knock out a few tunes without too much disgrace. I have the advantage of novice status which invokes a fair amount of forgiveness from the audience. I get a lot of tongue in cheek "Mmmmm very good" which is encouraging I suppose. Better than "If you blow that thing again I'll ram it so far down your throat you'll have to..."
That'll do for a while. I look forward to what Chiff & Fipple can offer and hope that I can give something back in the future.
VI. MAD FOR TRAD Tutorials
I am way overdue in commenting in these pages about Mad for Trad. This very impressive Irish organization produces a highly professional and informative website on traditional music and innovative electronic tutorials available on-line and on CD-ROM. They sent me review copies of some of their CD-ROMS, including the one for tin whistle.
Some background. I approach all tutorials (books, videos, CDs, tapes) with some skepticism. I have found most of them to be significantly flawed in one way or another. Most often, as I go through the tutorial, I often find that one eventually encounters what I call The Leap. This in the almost inevitable point of transition in a tutorial in which the leap is abruptly made from very elementary stuff to stuff that seems hopelessly advanced for the user. Mad for Trad's whistle CD-ROM has a great deal to recommend it and I do recommend it. I do think that it suffers from The Leap phenomenon, like most tutorials. (A notable exception is Bill Och's legendary tutorial in association with Clarke.) I get the feeling that a beginner would need to use a part of the tutorial, and then put it aside for awhile and practice fundamentals, and then go back to the tutorial. It's not perfect, but it is an excellent entry in the tutorial market.
The CD-ROM version basically works like a website. It combines text, images, sheet music, and videos. This one is done by Brian Finnegan, the great whistle/flute player from the band Flook. This was a great choice. Brian is a brilliant player and I don't know where one would look for a better player. It has a beginner's section, which includes a basic guide to music-reading, 17 tunes, pop-up video demonstrations by Brian of easier tunes. It explains notes & scales and some fundamental ornamentations. The advanced section features jigs and reels that are more highly ornamented and complex. The CD-ROM is packed with videos, which are among the better selling points. Brian plays Colin Goldie Overtons, by the way.
It should be said that the design of the tutorial is absolutely first-rate and highly professional. It took me awhile to get the hang of the navigation, but it ends up working well. The content of the tutorials is very good and I like the pace of the progression through the material. Of course, the electronic format makes it easy to stop-and-go, return to easier material, and work entirely at one's own pace.
I have one major criticism, which I hate to make because I want to be constructive and I can't think of a suggestion about how this could be fixed. Here's my problem: The videos are sharp, professionally shot, and expertly done by our teacher, Brian Finnegan. Most of the videos are shot so that it is as if one is standing directly in front of Brian, who is seated. One's line of sight is trained on the top of the whistle. Brian, being a staggeringly good player, does what good players do: He doesn't lift his fingers very high. So, from the angle of sight, it makes it hard to really follow what he is doing. This is, of course, especially true on the faster tunes. I found myself wanting to put the videos on slow motion so that I could better see what Brian is up to. Maybe this can be done with some computer systems, but I can't find a practical way to do it on my system, with any of the video players I have. This problem does not make the CD-ROM useless, but it did frustrate me at times. Also, this problem with being able to see what's going on is relieved considerably if you are able to play the videos on full-screen mode on your computer.
I think that I would recommend this CD-ROM most to people who already can play the instrument on a basic level, including advanced players. One gets the pleasure of watching and hearing Brian Finnegan play tons of tunes. I got a lot of really useful tips on ornamentation. The whistle tutorial, and all others from Mad For Trad, are priced at $39.00.
VII. BYE FOR NOW
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