Let the Revolution Begin…
by L.E. McCullough
© L.E. McCullough 2010
Can we take a quick poll? I don’t want to be the one to change centuries of Irish musical tradition, but how many would be in favor of moving standard pitch down so that the cherished bottom D cran is actually a B?
That’s right, just make the B natural below middle C the new bottom D on a whistle, thereby shifting pitch and fingering for several tens of thousands of airs, dance tunes, ballads.
Would that be too much of an inconvenience for the global mass of ceoltoiri?
This modest, half-serious proposal rises from a totally selfish motive. . . my most favorite-sounding tinwhistle for the last few years has been a B Natural Composite made by Michael Burke.
The official brochure description of “mellow and smooth and ultralight weight in black Bakelite Composite” hardly suffices to convey how satisfying this whistle is to play and to hear.
It is indeed lightweight but with a strong, solid timbre with a sort of inherent resonance, especially in the bottom D (B, actually).
No, I don’t know what “inherent resonance” is. But it’s the only thing I can think of to describe the fullness of sound that dwells somewhere between the standard wooden whistle and a wooden flute.
The Burke B Natural Composite projects a tonal quality all its own. It sings, nicely.
And when you hit the upper octave, it’s smooth and even more rich, with an extremely powerful, achingly pure high C natural that just wails when you slide into it.
If Irish music were pitched a minor third lower, I could play it a lot more than I do.
Anyone want to start a revolution? Or at least a whistle flash mob?
Round up a couple dozen players armed with Burke B naturals and we’ll meet at random sessions, take them over and maybe change the course of musical history.
Is ar mhaithe leis féin a dheineann an cat crónán. It’s for his own benefit the cat purrs.