Whistles of various kinds can be found in many countries
around the world, from the old clay whistles of
days to the plastic tin whistle of today. I Ireland
the first reference to the whistle goes back to the
century with many references to them in old Irish
literature. There are remains of the old bone whistle
which was found
in Christchurch and it dates back to the
13 century. It was made of bird bone.
The most common kind of whistle that's used today is the
tin whistle. It became very popular in Britain
in the 17th century where it was used to play classical
music. It was used in orchestras up until the 19th
and had keys and not holes as today.
The Clarke whistle which is made in England was the most
until the 1970s in Ireland. In 1978 a new
kind of tin whistle appeared in Ireland. It was made by
Feadóg. Most are actually
made of brass and not tin.
The main reason why the tin whistle is so popular in Ireland
is because it's taught in primary schools
This is to get children interested in learning an instrument
and hopefully progress from the humble whistle
to a more
complex musical instrument. Another reason it's taught is
because it's a very inexpensive way to learn music.
can purchase a tin whistle for €5.00 for starting off with.
Today all whistles come with a plastic mouthpiece which
invented by the English made Generation. This company still
produce the widest range of whistles in different keys.
The Waltons company also produce a wide variety of whistles
that produce different tones by changing
American also made a wide variety of them, the Susato Company
are famous for making the plastic whistle which
is a bit more
expensive. [ It's The One I Use ] They make a beautiful sweet
tone and have less of a rasp when played.
They are now becoming
very popular at sessions in Ireland.
The most common tin whistle is set in the key of D. when
you buy one you'll get a chart showing what
each note played and which holes co cover. This chart is
called the chromatic scale and it's is only by using
holes that a player can play the chromatic scale.
While playing the D whistle you can get C natural without
holes. The scale of G Major can also be played
on the D whistle. An accomplished player can produce a range
forms of ornamentation on the tin whistle in a way
that's very similar to playing the flute.
Famous Players In Ireland.
Paddy Maloney from The Chieftains has been playing whistles for
50 years. Paddy also plays the uilleann pipes where the fingering is the same. The band started playing in Dublin in '62 and
are still playing the traditional tunes and song today, not bad going for playing a little piece of tin pipe.
Finbar Furey. Here's another famous whistle player who also
started out in the early 60's with the help of his father Ted. His most famous composition is The Lonesome Boatman which he
plays on the low whistle, again he's another whistler who plays the uilleann pipes.
Noel Nagle. Noel has being playing with The Wolfe Tones for
49 years. Although the 'tones are more known for ballads Noel is well able to play tunes. He also played the pipes but they
were stolen a few years ago and sticks to mostly low whistles nowadays
Davy Spillane. Born 1959 was an uilleann piper before he
the low whistles. Not only is Davy proficient
in traditional music but also in jazz and classical music.
Dave also makes
pipes, a trade he learned from Johnny Burke
from Wicklow. He played the low whistle and pipes while he was with Moving
Hearts. This was one of the first times the pipes
were used outside trad. music.
Andera Corr introduced the tin whistle into pop music in the
The Corrs started out playing the traditional music
before branching out into popular music. They had the No 1
2 albums in the U.K. charts at the same time.
Many of the tracks on their albums include tin whistle.
Tommy Makem from Keady Co. Armagh played 5 string banjo
the tin whistle. Tommy joined The Clancy Brothers
in the early 50's in America. Their first album ''The Rising
Moon'' was a big success and this was the first time
the tin whistle was used on a whole album.
Vincent Broderick who was born 1920 in Loughrea Co. Galway.
to play from listening to his mother. He
started at the age of 12. He joined the famous Kincora Ceile
Band. In 1951
he moved to Dublin and founded the Eamonn Ceannt
Ceile Band. Vincent was also involved in the Dublin Pipers Club
Comhaltas Ceoltoire Eireann. He made two albums of his own
and composed almost 100 tunes.
Peter Browne, a Dubliner born in '53 plays uilliann pipes and whistles.
the mid 1970's he was a member of the group ''1691'' which
was later to become The Bothy Band. He played on the album
Bothy Band Live In Concert in 1976. Peter's tune ''Rathlin
Island'' was recorded by Sharon Shannon. Vincent works for
and was involved in the making of traditional music programmes
including one on Seamus Ennis.
Willie Clancy learned how to play the whistle at the age of 5.
born in 1918 and died in '75. Willie came from Miltown
Malbay Co. Clare. He learned his music from Garret Barry and
travelling piper Johnny Doran. He won several competitions
including the Oireachtas in the 30's. He earned his living as
carpenter as in those days a fella couldn't make money by being
a musician. He moved to London in the early 50's to work
returned to Ireland in 1957. There's a summer school that takes
place each year in Miltown Malbay named after him,
Clancy Summer School where some class musicians hold work shops
teaching traditional music on many instruments.