THE CHIFF & FIPPLE GREETING
August 03, 2003:
Chiff & Fipple Hires John Poindexter!
A full month has passed since the last exciting issue of 6hole Theory and, I have to say, it has been a slow month for whistle journalists worldwide. As someone who has been providing a steady stream of whistle news for seven years, let me add that I am aware of how odd it is that EVERY month is not a slow month for whistle news.
Anyway. The message board is as active as ever, but we're mostly fighting about politics (I'm just exhausting myself defending President Bush) and mulling over cultural matters. (We're frankly too excited about "Gigli" the new J-Lo/Affleck film, which I understand is based on a Virginia Woolf short story and comes to us from the good people at Merchant-Ivory Films. I may be getting this mixed up but I'm not sure.) In other movie news, "The Hours" is out on video. Be sure to check it out. It's a laugh riot!
So, I thought it might be a good time to STIR UP some news, so I am announcing the formation of a new FUTURES MARKET FOR WHISTLES. This will allow investors to profit by correctly predicting major developments in whistle design and production. We're hiring John Poindexter to develop this program. Details later.
I'm Dale Wisely and this is Chiff & Fipple's 6Hole Theory: PostStructural Tinwhistle Journalism for the New Millennium.
August 03, 2003
I. Syn Whistles
Syn Whistles available in D and are also available with interchangeable Eb and C tubes. $30 for a D, tubes cost extra I believe $10 each. Made by Erle Bartlett (a.k.a. Mr. Syn), in Australia. Fipple is very similar to that of a Sindt. Aluminum tubing, brass tuning slide and Delrin fipple plugs. The holes are round except the F# hole is not completely round, this is all been fixed on the newer models. Some buyers also complained of wobbling tuning slides, but mine does not wobble. This also has been fixed on the new models. A very nice whistle for the price.. I don't know if it is just me, but the tone seems similar somewhat similar to that of a Clarke Sweetone. Very well in tune, C natural seems in tune on the oxxooo and also when you half hole it. A fairly loud whistle, but not overly loud. Mine appears to have small superficial scratches, but you could remove them with very fine steel wool. The sound of a syn is very hard to describe, Jim McCabe summed it up in his review, here is a quote from his review, "As I mentioned earlier, this whistle has a very pure tone - pure both in the sense that there are next to no overtones and in that there is next to no breathiness. I could hear a tiny hiss of air while I played the whistle, but it could not be discerned on a recording made with my cheap Radio Shack portable cassette recorder. With chiff defined as the "ch" sound at the attack point of a note, the Syn has very little chiff. This purity is what initially made me think the whistle was so loud. The pure tone gives it a very focused, penetrating sound. It's so hard to describe sounds with words, but there really is no other choice, so I guess I'll give it a go. The Syn has a very full, fat sound. It is a rich sound, but not a complex one. I would not describe its tone as sweet. Strident would be a more appropriate term. It definitely has a bite, and can be pushed into the area of shrill, if that's what you're looking for. It can also be made to sound reedy. It certainly is a unique sounding whistle." Overall the Syn is a very nice whistle and a beautiful looking whistle too.
II. HOOVER WEBSITE CHANGED
III. SLIDE WHISTLE
Dear Mr. Wisely,
I've always been musically inclined, playing by ear.. Yesterday, upon learning this, my friend's father gifted me with what he called a waltz whistle. He said he used to play it back in the 50's. I tried it and it's incredibly easy to play a tune.
It actually looks like an old manual bicycle pump. You blow in one end, and pull out a thin rod on the other, much like a trombone.
I couldn't find any info on it and wondered if you'd ever heard of such a thing.
That would also be known as a slide whistle. Widely used to create a particular kind of sound effect associated with clowns falling on their butts. Here's a picture of a really well-made one called "the American Slide Whistle."
Obviously, what distinguishes this whistle from the tinwhistle is the absence of fingerholes and the substitution of a tuning slide which allows for the trombone-style play you describe, as well as the up- and/or down-frequency sweep of the afore-mentioned clown-falling-on-his-butt accompaniment.
If any reader is interested in buying one of these, perhaps to annoy your parents on lnog car trips(another common application), I note it's availability at The Whistle Shop.
I've never heard it called a "waltz whistle." It's hard to imagine anything more annoying than hearing a waltz played on one of these babies.
IV. DEATH AND DYING AND WHISTLES
Dale, I want to ask you if I may place a burden on you with my will. I have a hell of a whistle collection that includes 7 O'Riordans, 5 Copelands, 2 Overtons and a number of other expensive and inexpensive (yet collectible like early generations and perri and goldtone whistles) whistles. Also, a tenor banjo, a Martin mandolin, and an Alfonzo Bodhran.
I wanted to ask you if you were willing to go through the same hell as the last raffle to have this kind of product to start with. I was almost as amazed as you that you made nearly $13,000 in money for charities. I want my musical joys to do likewise in the event of my death. So you know I am 32, a juvenile diabetic, but otherwise healthy
enough to endure the rigours of Homeland security inspections of containers, ship boarding and inspecting 4 tons of produce each week to protect american farmers from pest and disease outbreaks.
Give it some thought. My second course of action would be to do the same with the Philadelphia Ceili Group to sponsor youth scholarships to an Irish music camp every year. But I really want the Chiff & Fipple community to be involved if I die.
I did of course, agree to Mark's request. Chiff & Fipple attorney Paul Busman (who many of you know is actually a whistling podiatrist, and not an actual attorney) has flown to meet with Mark's attorneys to complete the will.
This raises an all-important question:
(Not be morbid, or anything. Sorry. Like I said, I just saw "The Hours.")
V. ASK DR. FIPPLE
This week's question comes from Claire Furdengurgen of Morgan, South Dakota.
Dear Dr. Fipple:
I am in the forth grade at Kenney Elenmentary School in Morgan, South Carolina. I am working on a project for school and my teacher, who plays the penny whistle, told me I could write you a letter and ask a question. I have to write a report about the difference between Chif & Fipple, "blank verse", and German Idealism. Can you help me? I know this is probalby a dum question.
It's "probalby" not a "dum" question at all! (Although I can't tell you how cute it is that you mis-spelled "dumb".) Actually, I get this question like, totally A LOT, because it IS a really confusing matter.
Chiff & Fipple is all about tinwhistles and about the crazy, mixed-up people that make them and play them. Here is a picture of a tinwhistle that may help you.
Blank verse is the technical name for unrhymed iambic pentameter — i.e., verse of five "feet" per line, with the stress on the second beat of each foot. It's one of the most common kinds of verse in English: many passages of Shakespeare's plays are in blank verse, as is Milton's Paradise Lost and Wordsworth's Prelude.
Under no circumstances should you confuse blank verse with free verse, although people do it all the time, especially "forth graders." Hehehe.
Free verse — most common in the twentieth century, but by no means unique to it — has no fixed meter and typically is unrhymed.
Free verse is sometimes called by its French name, vers libre.
The term "German Idealism" refers to a phase of intellectual life that had its origin in the Enlightenment. English and French thinkers of the Enlightenment, principally interested in sensation, had become empiricists, materialists, and skeptics. They thought of the world as an enormous and complicated machine and interpreted history from a subjective-critical point of view. The Germans turned this on its head. For the Germans, thought was emphasized over sensation, and, instead of empiricism, idealism dominated. Ethics was based on norms of universal application, instead of on whim. History was interpreted as a rational process; and in place of the mechanical conception of the world, an organic or dynamic view was substituted. Nature was seen to be spiritual, as well as spatial, and was interpreted teleologically.
I hope this helps you with your little paper. And, as much as I say it, if you confuse blank verse and free verse in your paper, I will have to call your teacher and suggest you not be allowed to go outside for recess for three weeks.
VI. SIMPLE ECONOMICS
Here is a small contribution, if you want it.
So. The other day we had a catastrophe. I lost my LBW (little black whistle). Now, you would think that this catastrophe would have been somewhat assuaged by the fact that I, like so many before me, suffer from WhOA (Whistle Obsessive Acquisition Disorder). Quite the opposite is, in fact, the case.. You see, although my other whistles are nice/pretty/sound good/range in price, have sentimental value etc, none of them is as good or
easy to play as my small, light weight (aluminum) LBW.
I, of course, knew that the very second I bought a new LBW, the first one would turn up. Therefore I put off the purchase for two whole months while
we did spring cleaning and I searched every nook and cranny. Did I find it, no. Did I miss it, yes. Did I complain about not having it, constantly. I
complained so much that I was ordered to "stop being foolish and go and get another one. Its only $10 you know". Sage advice! I did just that.
The very next day the other one turned up. A house guest found it and would not tell me where! Did you know that when you have two LBWs you can play them both . together . with your nose?
Do you realize that my Daughter's Tenor Sax cost $1400.00? I pointed out to my wife that for that amount of money I could go out and buy two LBWs with lots of money left over to go out for dinner!
$1400 is a lot of money. Sometimes it is hard to grasp that kind of figure. Let me help our readers. If you were to lay 1400 $1 bills end to end---they would be worth the approximate cost of a tenor saxophone--about 140 inexpensive whistles--or $1400 if you prefer cash.
VII. COMING SOON ON CHIFF & FIPPLE
"Positively Testcard": The Chiff & Fipple Interview
BREAKING NEWS! C&F HAS FIRED JOHN POINDEXTER OVER WHISTLES FUTURES SCANDAL!
VIII. BURKE RETRO-WHISTLE
Mike Burke sent over a "new" version of an "old" whistle. Veterans will recall that Mike's original whistles were made of a composite material made of wood fiber and plastic resins and all kinds of weird stuff. I immediately fell in love with them. He has since branched out into metals and had actually threatened to discontinue the composite line. I pitched a hissy fit and, in fact, showed up on Mike's doorstep in the middle of the night, drunk, shirtless, crying my eyes out, and BEGGING him not to stop making composites. So, anyway, he sent me a new D whistle made of composite and featuring an improved slide. It's perfect. Get one.
IX. CHIFF & FIPPLE TO ENGLAND
God willing, the Undisputed and the Spouse of the Undisputed will be in England in November 2003. Often I read about how people get their homes broken into when they are too public with their vacation plans, so I want to tell you that while we are gone, our house will be occupied by several friends of ours that our in a little organization called "The Hells Angels." Perhaps you have heard of them.
Our "friends" will be house-sitting our Alabama home. You know, feeding the kitty. Watering the plants.
Anyway, we'll be taking in all the major tinwhistle sights in England. Details to follow.
That ought to do it for this issue. Thanks for tuning in.
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Lord, help us see how near is your kingdom.