March 9, 2002
Letterman May Take Chiff & Fipple Slot!
I. THE CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING.
Yikes-a-hooty, how long HAS it been since I did a new issue? Ages it seems, although really about a month. And, after several issues in which I thought there just wasn't a lot of NEWS out there in Whistle World, holy cow, you guys, you wouldn't believe the stuff that's rolling in here. I have a pile of whistles to review and bags of email, figuratively speaking, and, of course, I've accumulated tons of my own smart-alecky takes on things. I have no idea what to do now. I'm not going to do all the whistle reviews, 'cause that would mean this whole issue would be about, well, whistles, and that would disorient all my long-time readers. Let's just see if we can get some of it done.
Whew. It's hard to start. I'm all nervous.
II. DALE FINALLY GETS A ROSE.
Right. No one sends me flowers. Boo hoo. But, Fred Rose sent me a high D blackwood whistle. I have anticipated this for a long time, because some senior members of the Chiff & Fipple Tribal Council have already acquired Rose whistles and the reviews have been raves. I've published comments in previous issues of Chiff & Fipple and on the website. So, I'm not going to try to be comprehensive with this review.
But, let me say that this whistle takes its place among the best and there is not another whistle on the planet that I would say is clearly better, at any price. It is made of African Blackwood and features gold plated ferrules and mouthpiece. Accordingly, the high-end whistle on the marketplace which it is most like is the Abell. I own Abells, but not in D, so I am mercifully relieved of the duty of trying to to a side-by-side comparison. The Rose, I will say, is visually stunning, with the contrast of the black (actually, very, very dark brown) wood and the gold trim, which appears at the mouthpiece, tuning slide, and at the end of the tube. The aspect of the mouthpiece that goes into the mouth is slightly blunted, something like the Abell and the Susato, for example, but their is a really nice curvature to it that makes it exceptionally comfortable.
It has a fabulous tone. In this regard, it reminds me very much of my beloved O'Riordan Concert D (also wood). The tone is round and full and pure. If you insist on a whistle that produces a little roughness and air-noise, this is not for you. This is pure. Really pure. Gorgeously so.
Thanks to Mick Woodruff for the photo.
I don't often write about this aspect of the sound of a whistle, but the Rose responds beautifully to a surprisingly wide range of wind pressure. If you vary the strength of your blowing (Oh, man: I'm a published poet and I'm using the phrase "the strength of your blowing." I blame myself) the tone remains steady and the pitch varies little. The "flip" from the lower to the higher octave and back is effortless.
It plays very well. It is quick and responsive for fast tunes but handles slow airs well.
It comes packed in a high-quality cloth-over-pressed-board box with foam inserts for the two parts (broken down at the tuning slide). In addition, there is a very nice custom-made carrying sack with separate compartments for the headjoint and the shaft. The tuning slide, by the way, is substantial and the fit is excellent.
Fred Rose has it down. This is a extraordinary piece of craftsmanship and represents the highest quality of whistle. I could not be more enthusiastic.
III. CHIFF & FIPPLE TO AUCTION/RAFFLE FRED ROSE WHISTLE
In the next issue, I'll announce details. Fred and I agreed when he sent the whistle that I would auction or raffle it for charity. I've already chosen the charity and I'll announce details in the next issue of Chiff & Fipple. My heartfelt thanks to Fred for donating this beautiful instrument.
IV. COLIN STONE GOT TO BE LOSIN' THE MOIST WHISTLE BLUES HIS OWN DAMN WAY.
I have read your solution ( pardon the pun ) on losing the moist whistle blues (http://www.chiffandfipple.com/moist.htm), very good idea. I have come up with a better way, to get the soapy liquid into the whistle. Go to a gun dealer (I'm there, Dude!--Dale) and buy a woolen pull-through ( the type that has a screw thread at one end ) and a rifle cleaning rod that fits the pull through, both of which are available in different diameters, they are cheap and can be used over and over again. Then just dip the pull through in the soapy liquid and coat the inside of the whistle. The pull through being made of wool, will not scratch the whistle.This is what I use on my low whistle (susato low D ) and have not had any problems. I hope this idea is of some help.
V. SEATTLE TYLENOL (SP?)
Gale writes, and I don't know how to get rid of the line:
I had the pleasure to attend the Tionol in Seattle. Bill Ochs gave a great workshop on Tinwhistles. First of all the man is gracious, modest and oh, so patient. The poor man was stuck in a 20'x20' room with 13 beginner and intermediate whistlers for a day and a half. Post traumatic stress, a strong case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) nasty case of jetlag? I hope he recovers soon.
He asked each of us individually about our musical background and what we wanted to get from the workshop. Most of us were looking for ornamentation and style (how would you play it). Bill kindly went over slides, bends, cuts, strikes, rolls and crans using tunes as examples, all in all he taught 12 tunes, not including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (more about that later).
Stylistically, he switches back and forth between regions and can tell you "so and so from County Clare used to play like that" (insert your own Irish accent). What he stressed the most is "lilting" a sort of flow that your music should have. Not as fast as you can possibly move your fingers, but play the song like you enjoy it, make music, its not a race.
The man is a fountain of whistle history and lore. He brought several independent recordings of traditional music, stating "you play what you listen to."
I forgot, I was going to tell you about Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, (he will probably be mortified to find out I told you this). He used it as a lesson for rolls and crans. Just try it rolls, in the left hand (A, B, G), crans in the right (F,E). An awesome exercise.
About Whistles, we only discussed whistles themselves for a few minutes, (we did mention the passing of L.E.'s Bluezette <moan>) Bill had with him (that I could see) Generations (brass) and a couple of the old Clarke's (the ones with nasty gold diamonds--[to my friends at Clarke: I didn't say it this time!!--Dale]), he did say that he liked Generations with the seamed fipple. On the controversy regarding expensive vs. inexpensive he merely pointed to Paddy Maloney and his Generations.
It was fun to get out of the Whistling Closet and hear and play with a real musician. It will take a month to really absorb everything we went over. Should the opportunity arise to attend a workshop I say go, with the following proviso: take ear plugs. Thirteen whistles in the same room all playing (learning to play) at the same time is dangerous.
VI. LITTLE COPYRIGHT PROBLEM 1
I recently got an email from the author of a newspaper piece I ran in Chiff & Fipple last year. I won't mention the name of the piece or the author or the newspaper. It included some really informative material about the nature of copyright along with an invoice for $350. I wrote the author back and kind of explained that (1) 3Fish Productions is not really a big publishing powerhouse at all but is (2) like, uh, me and (3) 3Fish Productions has one daughter in college, and two in private schools and so 3Fish Productions doesn't have a lot of money lying around to pay off angry journalists, even when they are more or less right and (4) 3Fish Productions could call our legal consultant except, as it turns out--and this is directly related to the money thing-- our legal consultant is actually a podiatrist who plays the whistle and, (5) to our knowledge, he has never been to law school and (6) 3Fish Productions really liked her piece which, is, after all, why we ran it and (7) 3Fish Productions blames itself for this little misunderstanding.
So, anyway, she wrote back and gave us some MORE really useful ideas about the nature of copyright and cancelled the invoice and gave us all her best wishes. Turned out well.
1© 2002 3Fish Productions
VII. SILKSTONE 7-HOLE EXPERIENCE
Thom Larson sent over a very special whistle by Paul Hayward. Paul, as you know, makes Silkstone whistles in alloy and in PVC. They're great whistles. I highly recommend the alloys in particular. Thom sent over a 7-hole version of a D whistle. It's a very simple concept. It has seven holes. You play the whistle normally, using the top 6 holes and, through the wonders of Six Hole Music Theory, you get the D-major scale. The seventh hole, down there at the bottom of the shaft, when covered with one's pinky, gives you the C note. Ever play a tune on a D whistle just to find that you need that C only, like, ONCE?? This is your answer. It's a fine idea and a very nice whistle.
Which reminds me: In case you haven't been around awhile, Colin Goldie makes special Overton whistles that use a somewhat more complex system of extra holes, including one under the shaft, to make a whistle that's a hybrid of a C and a D. (Or he can combine other adjacent major keys).
VIII. DEMOCRACY IN ACTION
Please keep democracy alive!
IX. WHY WE DO THIS.
Lots of people are nice enough to write little introductory letters when they join the mailing list. Here's one. Eileen plays in the band Irishtown Road .
I am actually a long time fan of the "Chiff and Fipple" web site. I found it around three years ago while doing a general search under tin whistles. I am now addicted to whistling and the web site (the road to recovery
begins when you can admit that you have a problem).
I'm in an Irish band, got the whistling job by default when the whistler left . When I first started, I was undergoing radiation treatments for cancer and literally could not hold my arms up to play so they propped me up in bed and stacked no less than four bed pillows under my arms so I could whistle. Three years later, clean from cancer (clean as a whistle?) and not only can I hold my arms up to play, at band jobs I've been known
to twirl them like batons between licks!
I started out with a tiny little G (yuck) that sounded like I dragging tent poles across concrete. For Christmas this year, my long suffering husband got me a Mike Burke Brass Pro-Narrow Bore that sounds like a lark
in the morning! Being a rather reserved Irish-American woman I don't like to admit it, but I actually squealed with glee when I opened it.
I'm looking forward to the newsletter.
All the best,
Eileen Colgan Bowling
X. GREAT NAME FOR A BAND
This letter includes the best name for a band I've heard in a long time. To date, my favorite name for a band is (and I know this is going to offend all of you with any decency): "Bob Hope To Die". Anyway:
I think I have mailed you before - can't remember now.... I play in a Celtic Folk-Rock band in Johannesburg, South Africa called..... wait for it.... the Slugs of War.
Heh, knew you'd find that a bit strange...
Well, we have a rather nice website with some downloads that you may or may not want to direct people to in a news letter... The point being that I've just finished doing a Drum & Bass / Jungle-y version of Cooleys Jig/Morrisons Jig medley played on a Shaw pennywhistle. I recorded it at home and did all the backing on sequencers and samplers... care to take a listen & comment? We're thinking of putting it on our new CD...
You'll find it at http://listen.to/slugsofwar and its in the 'downloads' section (cool_vs_morr.zip)
Thanks for the regular news!
Chris Pefanis (aka Tasty Slug)
XI. NEW SUSATO PRODUCT!
I'm ever-impressed with the people at Susato, who continue to produce some of the best inexpensive whistles on the planet and who also continue to develop their product line. The latest thing from their shops are the VSB whistles. That stands for Very Small Bore.
P a u l A n k a (not affilliated with Susato and I don't think this picture is copyrighted).
I've not played one yet but there's been some good reviews on the message board and Thom Larson has them featured on his website. From Thom's site: The original Susato Soprano Whistle is considered a "Small Bore" whistle (the bore is the diameter of the barrel of the whistle). Susato has now answered requests for a quieter, sweeter sounding whistle for the soprano keys - the "Very Small Bore" Soprano whistle.Note that a few higher keys (Soprano F & G) are now also available.
XII. CD REVIEW BY DALE WISELY (SHORT VERSION)
click on pic to order from amazon.com.
Yeeee-HAH! This is really great! Lots of fabulous pipes and low whistles and flute. Yippeee!!!
announcing: NWA: A new lobbying subsidiary of Chiff & Fipple
XIII. UNDISPUTED POETRY
The Poet's Canvas (current issue) has two poems by your faithful writer/editor.
XIV. PRESIDENTIAL TEARS
Pres. Bush can cry on TV all he wants to. I like the guy better when he does.
Bye for now.
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