October 20, 2001
I. CHIFF & FIPPLE: THE GREETING
Hi, everybody. I'm speaking to you from a "secure location." I really can't say much more about it, except to say that, if you don't count the fact that Vice President Cheney snores, the digs aren't bad.
II. Beginners Corner: THE GREATEST GENERATION
It has been awhile since I've written about Generations. Veteran Chiff & Fipple readers will know that the inexpensive and widely available Generation whistle, particularly in the key of D, appears to have quality-control problems. There is wide consensus among whistlers that if one pulls a Generation D at random off the store shelves, it is quite likely to be no better than mediocre and often worse. The mystery comes from the fact that perhaps 1 in 10 or so will be terrific. I myself have owned, at one time or another, 10 to 15 Generation Ds. A couple of years ago, I found my "good one." It's a brass one with a green top, a configuration that Generation refers to as the "folk whistle." Apart from the color of the mouthpiece, it is indistinguishable from the red-topped brass Generations. It is, I believe, a coincidence that my "good" Generation is one of these green beasts.
Before I continue I will add that there
is also fairly wide consensus that one has to "tweak" a Generation
whistle to get the best out of it. This viewpoint has been espoused by no
less an authority that Paddy Moloney, articulated in his Pulitzer-Prize-deserving
Chiff & Fipple
Interview. For one method of tweaking a Generation, see this
Anyway, back to my Greatest Generation. That this whistle, which is to the naked eye fully visually identical to its inferior litter-mates on the shelf, is so much better than its identical siblings (can someone help me with that "its" vs. "it's" thing? I had the flu when that was covered in the fourth grade)...
I'm sorry. That last sentence was beyond repair so I thought it best just to end it. What I'm trying to write is that I am amazed that two identical-appearing whistles can be so different in playability and sound quality. Gee, that was long way to go for such a puny insight. Can we just move on?
III. GLENN SCHULZ SIGHTING
Mark Bradley writes:
It was a roaring session last night
here at the Kildare House, in Windsor Ontario.
I finally met BobB from Lakeshore who is a regular on the Chiff & Fipple message board, and Bob invited Glenn Schultz over for the session last night.
I'm telling tales right now ---it was Bob's first true session and as I warned him it is a fast session. So much music so little time. Everybody was super-charged last night. Clare Renaud (a fine fiddler) was just back from two weeks in Donegal, Galway and Dublin and was sessioned-out but had so much to tell and play, that everyone just picked up on the energy and ran.
Eubiedubie was also there with his Schultz flute and Sindt whistle and between him and Glenn, the craic was mighty.
I got BobB to play twice and he did an excellent job on the Blarney Pilgrim and for the life of me I forgot his second tune, but he did well. Although he felt a little out it, he said he enjoyed himself immensely and we want him to come back. We don't turn anybody away who wants to learn and participate, regardless of where they are on the road of IrTrad.
And now the real gem of the night -- Glenn Schultz. I have never met the man, but through this board, I have learned quite a bit about him and his whistles. Eubiedubie has talked to him quite a bit and when we talk about flutes, BobB talks about Glenn warmly.
It was Glenn's first session here at the Kildare House and I want to thank Bob for inviting him. Glenn lives about a two hour drive north of Detroit, and in view of the recent tragedy, crossing the border isn't as easy as it once was, so Glenn's effort to be here last right, was and is more than appreciated. It was lovingly welcomed.
Well what did Glenn, do you say? Glenn just sat for a while and listened. Then he got out his melodeon, strapped in on and quickly joined in. He sang two original compositions adapted from IrTrad, that were just lovely. Took us through jigs and reels, that some of us weren't familiar with, but played over again so that we could get a start at them.
Cut to the chase you're saying? What about his whistles. Well indeed. As most of you are aware, Glenn has had some health problems and playing a whistle all night long is just out of the question.
But with that said, Glenn did bring out his own personal Thin Weasel and played a lovely air on it. He said it was a version of Barbara Allen, which I have never heard before. (WHOA, like sap in spring, is starting to flow upwards into my mind).
Then it was whistles all around, Eubiedubie's Sindt, BobB's Schultz PVC, my O'Riordan and Burke Brass D. It a wonder that none of us have Hoof and Mouth disease this morning. Glenn played my Casey Burns flute, and only I wish that someday, somewhere, that I will be able to pick any instrument and just play it, like Glenn did last night. But hearing MY flute being played by Glenn, has only inspired me to work harder.
By eleven o'clock last night, we had five fiddlers, two whistle/flute players, Glenn on melodeon, two guitarists, Jerry on banjo and me on bodhran and whistle, and the speed hadn't let up.
BobB had to leave a little early for an appointment this morning. So -- BobB it was twelve when Glenn, Clare and I left and there was still some going at it.
"Last night's fun," was just that.
And if there is anyone else in the Detroit/Windsor area on this board and you want to come, just email me for times and directions. You are all welcomed.
My favorite Glenn photo. I hear he's not crazy about it.
IV. GLENN SCHULZ, POET
Dr. Paul Busman, Chiff & Fipple's Official Whistling Podiatrist, writes:
Just received a copy of Glenn's The Verser's Curse. Y'all gotta get a copy of this remarkable book by a remarkable man. Glenn has the rare talent of taking raw materials available to all of us-- either wood or words, and turning them into something unique and beautiful. Some of the poems are rather dark, bardic, and brooding, others are uplifting, others laugh out-loud funny. I can't recommend this book highly enough. You can either download it and print it yourself, or buy it already bound as a paperback. I have no commercial interest yadda, yadda...Check it out at:
This may not bring up the actual book, but you can search for author under Schultz
V. A GUESTBOOK ENTRY:
Love playing the whistle, but most of my family tell me to get out of
the room, but I keep practicing, and now can annoy the neighbors with
VI. CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
Dennis Driggers writes:
This is in response to the recent newsletter article in which Tony Lamont makes several references to the "Donald Duck" effect allegedly produced by breathing helium.
Well, I guess he thinks he's some kind of expert. But it is clear that Mr. Lamont knows nothing about classic cartoons. Every cartoon aficionado knows that breathing helium produces the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" effect, not the "Donald Duck" effect as he asserts. If Mr. Lamont is unable to tell the
difference between the sound of those cute and cuddly little rodents and that insufferably cranky duck, how much can he really know about sound? Huh? How much? I think you get my point.
vs.. You be the judge. (I couldn't find a good picture of Alvin of Alvin & the Chipmunks, but while I was looking I found this picture of Mike Connors of the old TV show "Mannix." I hope you enjoy it.)
VII. MYSTERY WHISTLE
I don't know if you're familiar with the man, but I've
turned Sam Hinton on to your website. He is one of
those people who should be declared a National Treasure,
and I've often seen him perform on tinwhistle (as well
as every other instrument you could name) at folk
festivals and concerts. His current project is
called "1500 Folk Songs I Know" and will likely be
released someday on 30 CD's or so . . .
I've been corresponding with him recently and had an
opportunity to ask him about a silver or nickel-plated
tinwhistle that someone made for him about seven years
ago. Sam brought it to the Claremont, California Spring
Folk Festival and played it for the crowd. I recall
that it had an Irish coin soldered to the body of the
whistle, just below the fipple, and that it was
I've asked Sam about it, and all that he can recall is
that it was made by a 'local young man named Jonathan'
(Sam lives in La Jolla in Southern California.) Sam also
told me that it is the only whistle Jonathan ever made.
Have you ever heard of a whistle like the one I've
described? I'll ask Sam if I can photograph the
whistle, but that will have to wait until the winter
holidays roll around, as that's when Sam will be
performing next. He's "mostly retired", as he puts it.
Thanks for your time, and thanks for a fabulous website!
Hmmm. Sounds like a one-of-a kind. It will be mine. Oh yes, it WILL be mine.
VIII. THREE PATHS TO THE ABODE OF THE UNDISPUTED
If you will check http://www.chiffandfipple.com, you will find that there are now three formats for the main website. These are reproduced below, in Link Form.
Presenting the Chiff & Fipple Three Ways of EnteringTM
The Classic Way (The Main Page of Fullness)
The Way of the Frames (Main Page of Fullness Plus Side Menu of Deliverance)
Short Road to Enlightenment (For Returning Pilgrims)
Special thanks to Doug Raymond & Jennifer Kano of WebWorks Design.
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IX. CHIEFTAINS AT GROUND ZERO
the Irish Voice (www.irishvoice.com)
Copyright2001. My advance thanks to the Irish Voice for what I hope
will be their decision not to sue me for running this without permission.
Chieftains hold New York's hands
Georgina Brennan "WILL you hold my
hand?" asked Lauren Murphy as she braced herself to greet her husband's
mourners. Lauren was speaking to Paddy Moloney, founder of the Chieftains, the
Grammy award winning musical ambassadors of Ireland.
Moloney and the band had come to New York specially to play at the memorial service for Lauren's husband Matthew, who considered himself the Chieftains' biggest fan.
Matthew O'Mahony, a merchant banker for Cantor Fitzgerald, had been on the 95th floor of Tower One on September 11.
His death brought thousands of mourners to St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue last Wednesday afternoon.
It also brought the Chieftains to grieve the loss of their number one fan. "He never missed any of our concerts," said Moloney sadly.
Moloney wanted to come for Lauren, but he also felt that he had some work to do in New York.
Down at Ground Zero the following day, almost no one went untouched as the Chieftains leader remembered the fallen.
As mechanical diggers and rescue workers worked side by side in the shadow of the breaking day, Moloney played his tin whistle surrounded by a small group of Irish cops, friends and his daughter Edín.
Moloney played the haunting "Táimse 'imo Chodladh" (I am asleep, don't wake me), an Irish wake song.
As the weight of devastation sat heavy on the crowd's hearts Moloney played another lament "Dochas" (hope).
The old Irish tradition of waking the dead that inspired Moloney to come to Ground Zero also made a difference to the rescue workers as they stopped, in the midst of smoke rising from the pits, to gaze at the sight of a small man playing music larger than the city itself.
"When I left the service yesterday, I knew my work here was not done. I felt my visit was not complete," he said.
"I hadn't planned to play those tunes, I hadn't rehearsed. That often happens; you get inspired at that very split second. Then as I played I felt I saw them, all the faces, faces without images. The mechanics of the music disappeared and my heart went into it. I got the shivers up my back. But now I feel more relaxed," he said as he prepared to catch a flight back to Ireland.
His personal tribute was done. His time here in New York had been trying. Spending time with Lauren as she said goodbye to her husband of two years was important to Moloney and the band.
"About two weeks ago Lauren called our office. She told us about Matty-O and how he had loved our band.
She said she would love nothing better than for us to play at his memorial service. So at that request we said we would come," said Moloney.
Lauren had met the band in her work with David Letterman's talk show as a publicist for Island Records, and knew her husband was a huge fan.
She asked them to play at what she called a Celebration of Life for the man she loved, the man who had lived life so fully.
Lauren had asked Moloney to play Van Morrisson's song "God Shine His Light On Me" but without Morrison, Moloney said he couldn't.
Instead he played "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" and Lauren, still brave in her emotions, smiled.
The band who have been playing for 39 years felt moved to play for the 39-year-old Irish American who had a special place in his heart for the auld sod.
One of Matthew's closest friends told how Matt once said that he liked being up that high in the World Trade Center every day, because on a clear day he could see the mountains of Ireland.
When he met Lauren three years ago he took her to Ireland to propose. A year later they were married in St. Ignatius Loyola by the same priest, Father Mark Halligan, who stood on the altar to mourn him.
As the crowd settled for the service Matthew's picture adorned the altar, the Chieftains poised to the right.
At Communion by special request the Chieftains played "Danny Boy," a song that is not their own. "Lauren asked us to play it. It wasn't one of ours but it sounded great in the church. It was a personal touch, she said he loved the song," said Moloney.
"I really didn't know him but I have gotten to know him in the last few days. I tell you, I would have loved to have gone for a pint with him," added Moloney echoing the feelings of many of the mourners who had not known Matthew, but left the church feeling that they had.
"It is so hard to say goodbye, said Matthew's best friend Adam Levy. "I can't imagine what life will be like without him. The only words that can describe him are Yeats' 'Think where man's glory most begins and ends. And say my glory was I had such friends.'" "Can someone please let Rudy Giuliani know that Matty-O was the real mayor of New York City," his college roommate Andy Schoendfeld said.
As the service ended and the crowd spilled onto Park Avenue, the choir sang Van Morrison's "God Shine His Light on Me" and the Chieftains played "Limerick's Lamentation," a lilt that brought sad smiles to Matthew's friends.
Then it was over, but the memory of a wonderful life will live on long after the horrific events that ended it.
Please visit the Irish Voice on-line.
X. CHIFF & FIPPLE GEAR FOR CHARITY
I've set up a special on-line store at cafepress.com with a line of products sporting the chiff & fipple logo and some with one of Tony Higgin's excellent designs. All proceeds go to September 11 related charities. http://www.cafepress.com/chiff2001 .
The Work of Brothers
find a brother in the rubble.
After so many days, the body might be hard to take.
And yet, as they wrap him in the flag,
they speak to the corpse:
Don't worry about it.
Don't you worry about it, Mike.
You're alright. You're alright.
We're carrying you out of here.
And from the hands of one
to the hands of another
and then to another,
down the line,
across smoldering hills
and valleys never meant to be,
they pass their brother
-DW September 2001