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Whistle Tutorial - Lesson 1.2


The Whistle - A Brief History


The Whistle is a simple member of the flute family which has been around for hundreds of years - there are bone whistles that have been found in Dublin from the 12th century, and an Iron Age sheep's bone whistle has been unearthed in Yorkshire. Other whistles have been made from clay, wood and reeds. These days whistles are made from various metals, plastics and even odd plumbing tubes and copper piping.

Various forms of whistle have been played throughout history and all around the world, and in some cultures the instrument was thought to have magical and spitirual powers. The Cheyenne Indians believed that the sound of the whistle could charm women, and if you're reading this tutorial to charm someone, well, it might work.

The whistle was at one time marketed as a penny whistle, and the instrument is still often given that name, although it costs a lot more than that now. Another name it's given is tin whistle. Some whistles were described as flageolets for marketing purposes, but they were slightly diffent instruments.

The whistle's recent popularity coincided with the rise of Irish music in the 1960s and 70s, The Chieftains and Planxty in particular, and indeed the tin whistle is mostly known for its association with Irish music. However, the whistle has been played in Scotland and is an ideal instrument with which to play Scottish music.

The Scottish Whistle

The whistle has been in Scotland for centuries, but for some reason it's not as immediately associated with Scottish music as it is with Irish. However, there have been several notable Scottish whistlers, and it's heard in most Scottish folk groups. Go to the Scottish Whistlers page to find out more, and the Scottish Whistle History page for a fuller exploration of the whistle in Scots music.


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