THE CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING
This Issue Was Leaked to Robert Novak Last Week
Last month, I launched a campaign to honor President's Bush request to congress for $87,000,000,000 by asking Chiff & Fipple readers for 87 cents. I was kidding. But, as it turns out, I've raised about $250 in contributions of various denominations, ranging from 0.87 to 87.00. I haven't decided whether to donate the money to a good cause or combine it with the proceeds for the sale of my pet tiger and use it to work a deal with my housekeeper.
It also seems that my little request prompted a few people to unsubscribe, only to be replaced by new subscribers who I haven't had time to offend. Subscriptions have been holding steady in the 3300-3400 range for about a year. Offended people exit right and then naive people kinda wander in from the left.
I. Glenn Schulz THIN WEASEL Revisited
Glenn Schultz, Sr. sent me a wooden thin weasel with an improved tuning slide. This is only the second wooden weasel I've played--the first was a loaner from famed collector Loren Bookbinder.
It is SO much easier to review bad whistles than good. And it is easier to review good ones than perfect ones. I just don't know if I am up to it. The longer I write reviews, the shorter they get. The tone is ideal for me. One of the aspects of a whistle is the amount of breath/wind noise in the tone. I like a fairly pure tone, but I like just a touch of wind noise. So it is with this whistle.
The tuning is perfect and that is old news. Glenn would rather take a bullet than make a badly tuned instrument.
What I can never get over is how much this whistle stays solid and consistent across two octaves. If there is a whistle better balanced in this regard, I don't know that I've played it. Volume remains pretty much the same across the range. Very solid low end and an absolutely effortless high end. The flip from low-to-high octave is smooth. The tone if fuller and rounder than I remember being true of the other wooden Weasel I played.
Looks great. Dark wood with lovely metal trim. Very nice tuning slide: The wood on both the shaft and the mouthpiece flares out a bit as it approaches the slide. Good move.
Keys & Prices, according to Glenn's website:
High G down to D $290
C down to (Low A) $320
Ab down to Low G $350
Low F $380
Not cheap. High end whistles for serious players.
Contact Glenn though his website at http://www.thinweasel.com
II. Ben Franklin on The Whistle
my opinion we might all draw more good from this world than we do, and suffer
less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles. For
to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with have become so by
neglect of that caution.
ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of
I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket
with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for
children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way
in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for
one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much
pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and
sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had
given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good
things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so
much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more
chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on mind; so
that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to
myself, “Don’t give too much for the whistle”; and I saved my money.
I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I
met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on
levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to
attain it, I have said to myself, “This man gives too much for his
I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure
of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys
of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, “Poor man,”
said I, “you pay too much for your whistle.”
I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the
mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations, and ruining his health
in their pursuit, “Mistaken man,” said I “you are providing pain for
yourself instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle.”
I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture,
fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends
his career in prison, “Alas,” say I, “he has paid dear, very dear, for
I see a beautiful, sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a
husband, “What a pity,” say I, “that she should pay so much for a
short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon
them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by
their giving too much for their whistles.
Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin
Barnes and Noble, Inc. 1995.
Thanks to long-time C&F contributor Phil Howard for sending this.
III. L.E. McCullough Re-released FEADANISTA! ON CD
One of the classic whistle recordings has been tragically unavailable on CD since it's original 1989 release. Here comes Feadanista, by L.E. McCullough, on CD:
"To call L.E. McCullough a tin whistle player is like saying Shakespeare could scribble a bit. Feadanísta contains some of the most inventive and exciting music I've heard in ages. With the help of a host of excellent session musicians, McCullough creates a seamless whole from elements as disparate as Cajun and Charlie Parker. His command of a broad palette of instrumental colour -- ranging from synthesizers to charango -- is quite magnificent." -- Folk Roots
"Feadanísta provides a new definition of fusion. .. . folk, pop, jazz, New Age -- the music may be hard to pin a label on, but it's sure easy to like." -- Austin American-Statesman
"Feadanísta contains some of the most exciting musical ideas I've heard this year."-- John Schaeffer, Host of National Public Radio's "New Sounds"
is a wonderful CD. L.E. McCullough is a genius when it comes to arranging
music, writing plays, books as well as anything else he does.
This CD does have a wonderful blend of music and no doubt was cutting edge when it came out.
Like other things L.E. does, the cover on Feadaniste is beautiful and entertaining to look at too. I am sure it is available from many other places too.
I keep them in stock if you can't find it locally.
--Michael Burke, whistle maker
So, I've got my copy of Feadanista, which I had not heard prior to this CD re-release.
Feadanista is a ton of fun and the fusion concept works exceptionally well. L.E.'s mastery of the instrument is renown. It's not perfect: I can probably go awhile before hearing L.E. singing "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" again but, trust me, nobody, but nobody plays the whistle better than L.E. McCullough and nobody plays with a better sense of the musical possibilities of our humble instrument.
Let's have a contest! L.E. sent me a couple of extra copies. I can't remember if he sent two or three. They're out in the car. Hold on a minute.
Car's locked. Can't find my keys.
Well, anyway, I have two or three extras. I'll mail these to the two (or three) people who email me with the best essays on the following topic:
Why Chiff & Fipple is the Best Reason for the Internet to Exist.
Winning entries will be published in a subsequent issue of this publication.
Email L.E. to arrange to get your copy
IV. I Have A Lovely Site
You have a lovely site. (That's not a metaphor for something else.)
I'm rather new to the pennywhistle; I just started playing a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to tell you about the player that got me hooked. I don't know if you've heard of him, but I really think he's worth mentioning on your site. His name is Fred Jorgensen from Newfoundland, and he plays whistle, bodhran, and sings. He's an amazing musician...
... here is a link to their website which includes some MP3 samples. http://www.thenavigators.com/mp3s.html Some great examples of his playing are in The Chapel Bell Set, and Rights of Man. The classic example of his singing can be heard in Rabbits in a Basket (he really sounds like a pirate all the time--it's not just an effect). I can't stress enough just how good this band is as a whole. Truly awe-inspiring.
Enough of that. Thanks again for your site, I'm a big fan.
V. The Green Linnett 5: Letter From Joanie Madden
Hope all is well with you Whistle King!!! I'm just packing here in New York for a trip to Ireland tonight and wanted to drop you a line before I went.
I'm hoping you can help me in getting the word out in sending this message out to the Chiff and Fipple email list regarding the Green Linnet 5 (Cherish the Ladies, Altan, Eileen Ivers, myself and Mick Moloney) planned protest and mini-concert for Monday, Columbus day, October 13th at Green Linnet records in Bethel, CT (by Danbury) at 4:30. We're hoping for a great turnout and I'd love all of my fellow whistlers to come out and show their support for our cause.
As you are aware, Green Linnet has neglected to report all sales since 1999. Our lawyer estimates that approximately $450,000 is owed to us as a group. They have refused to pay us what they owe and have refused to account to us over the past four years. Their delays and actions have cost us many thousands of dollars so far and now we have been pushed to run a full fledge audit to try and get what is owed to us - an extremely expensive venture. At the present time, Green Linnet has refused us any access to the books.
Thanks for the help Dale! Hope to talk to you soon!
you are planning to go, see
this link for details.
I received a Low D whistle from John of Calmont Music. John has sold these black polymer whistles mostly on ebay where, by the way, he enjoys a very high feedback rating.
This whistle is tunable with a nice slide. The window in the mouthpiece is round. The mouthpiece is unusual because it is absent a beak. This is a bit hard to describe. The top of the whistle is at right angles with the shaft and you play by blowing on the edge. It's really hard to describe. I've seen one other whistle designed this way, a Chinese instrument that Wendy Morrison sent me from the House of Musical Traditions. It turns out to be surprisingly comfortable.
Also unusual: The window faces one's breast (or breasts, depending upon the gender of the player).
John describes it this way:
"Instrument played with the sound hole facing towards your chin. This has a number of advantages. You can determine your own holding angle and support the instrument next to your body .This has the added benefit of being able to flatten notes by simply moving the instrument backwards and forwards."
The finger holes are smaller than typical of Low D and the spacing is closer together.
It's got a great tone. I must say, it belongs in the same as the Overton. Not as strong a tone, but with those breathy and mysterious undertones. Volume is solid with a good lower end. There's a lot of backpressure to this whistle, but I like that. You have to lean in a bit to play the high end, but it works.
These are nice whistles.
Here's John's email address:
He is good to work with, can give you more details, and can work with you on getting one of his whistles.
Oh. He ships these in a really nice case. Hard black plastic tube. Really good.
VII. This Month's "People Who, So Far As We Know, Don't Play the Whistle"TM
The Governors of California
VIII. Chiff & Fipple Tune of the Month
Let me suspend irony for a moment.
Robert Doiel is a Chiff & Fipple Heroic Figure. For over 5 years, Robert, who works at the University of Southern California doing some kind of technical stuff I can't understand, has been doing the Chiff & Fipple Tune of the Month. It can be accessed through the main Chiff & Fipple page ( http://www.chiffandfipple.com/table2.html )or this link. He posts a new tune every month. The entire archive of 63 tunes posted since 1998 are right there on the page, which he hosts himself. (In addition, he is posted several months in advance so there is a, uh, future archive there. I'm thinking Robert is probably working on some kind of secret time machine program at USC).
Anyway, Robert is a Heroic Figure because he has made this steady contribution for years with little thanks and no fanfare. Give him some love.
1. Send blank email to email@example.com.
2. If that doesn't work, reply to this email and let me know you want to unsubscribe and I should be able to handle it for you.
Lord, help us see how near is your kingdom.