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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000251.txt from 2004/10

From: "Ken Wolman" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Flutophones
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2004 12:07:45 -0400 wrote:

> Ken mentioned pennywhistles. In the small town I'm in, where Country,
> Celtic, and Old Time music are much appreciated and played, pennywhistles are real
> instruments, and families buying them for their kids may well go home and have
> the kids play that night in the family jam. This is a wonderful situation and
> such families know where the whistles are in the music store.

First, I was surprised to read that Tonettes are still being made. Given that the last
one I saw was being sold as a collectible for $25, I figured it was a curiosity whose
day had passed. Flutophones I know are still around--you can't go into a music store
and not see them. Remarkable to me that a instrument I was handed when I was about six
years old (and I'm 60 now) is still being produced. Then again, clarinets and flutes
are a lot older than I am, and I think they're still being made by someone or other.

Pennywhistles are wonderful little instruments whether you're seriously into Irish music
or just like to noodle around and try to play Cole Porter or French Baroque music.
Depending on the key, you can play ALMOST anything on a six-hole tinwhistle if you
figure out cross-fingering for the accidentals: tinwhistles are happiest in specific
keys, D and G come to mind (corrections?). Some purists think that if you're not
playing a chiffy (grainy-sounding) whistle, you're not being authentic to the
tradition. Those whistles include Oak, Generation, Feadog, Clarke. The most expensive
whistle in D (the standard) is about $10. Then there are the high-end whistles from
makers like Burke, Copeland, Abell, and Schultz among others, all of whom have
reputations in the whistle "community" for making fine instruments. A good Copeland D
whistle in nickle will set you back $300. I've played one. I don't know that the
instrument is worth the amazing price and getting on a waiting list. I've got a Burke
brass D whistle that was about a hundred bucks a few years ago. What can I say, I was
nuts:-), but the whistle is awesome. They are very close to keyless Irish flutes in
that the fingering is exactly the same, except you blow into an Irish flute as you would
a Boehm flute with all those keys. A lot of people transfer the tunes they've learned
on the whistle over to the flute.

My whistle education started here, with one of the most fun sites around:

> Same goes for recorders. I betcha that if Lelia gives a kid a recorder, that
> kid will learn to play it just by being near to her. I had a friend at
> Humboldt State University who was born in Holland and lived there until she was 12
> or so. She learned recorder as a child in school, and as a Biology Grad
> Student was a wonderful recorder performer. In Europe, with better young music
> education I assume, recorders are the perfect instrument. Flutophones would be
> silly.

A friend who was educated in Europe told me recorders are given routinely to kids in
grade school, that everyone learns to play one. Not everyone ends up sounding like one
of the many European virtuosi (Verbruggen, Brueggen, Laurin, etc.) who are out there,
but they get a sense of music anyway. At its best, a really fine recorder in the hands
of a master can play with the sweetness and versatility of a flute, and it requires
tremendous technique and musicianship to play music by Bach, Vivaldi, Hotteterre or
other composers (up to the contemporary) who composed FOR the instrument.

Recorders are as much a life study as clarinets or any other serious woodwind. Start
here with the Recorder Homepage--

You'll read more than you ever knew or maybe wanted to know:-).

Kenneth Wolman
Proposal Development Department
Room SW334
Sarnoff Corporation

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