Tin whistle scales explained
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Tin whistle scales explained

Tin whistles which play in the scale of D are by far the most popular tin whistle to play. The whistle comprises of a mouth piece and a tube made of tin or brass which has six holes set along it. The fingering, combination of covering the holes or partially covering them with the fingers to allow air to escape through them is the principle to playing a tin whistle.

It is possible to play the scale of D, A and G on a D whistle. The different scales are produced by following the fingering scales and covering the holes in different combinations also by the amount air and hardness of the blowing. Irish whistles are more generally played on D whistles as both the D major and G major scales can easily be achieved. American tin whistles are more commonly tuned in the notes of C major and F major.

Low whistles, often known as concert whistles, are longer and have a wide dimension than a standard whistle and therefore produce lower octaves. Soprano whistles are played when higher pitches are required.

The tin whistle can also be played in other keys by cross fingering, which is achieved by leaving the higher notes open or by half-holing which is achieved by only covering half of the hole of the higher notes. These notes can be extremely difficult to achieve particularly by the inexperienced players and therefore rather than learning the complexities of fingering many people simply chose to buy a different tin whistle which is tuned to a higher or lower scale.

Other variations of notes can be achieved by tonguing or slurring using similar principles to playing a flute however, these are not usually used by whistle players they prefer to alter the amount of air blown into the whistle or by using different ornaments and articulations such as cuts, strikes, rolls and slides.

The scales are produced by changing the combination of holes covered at any one time by following tabulations. As well as following the tabulations the correct breathing and blowing technique needs to consistent. It is recommended that beginners start by mastering a scale by playing it several times downwards before tackling the same scale back up. This will not only give confidence in playing the notes correctly but also help players to listen to the notes as they are played and familiarise themselves with their sound. Until the scales of D and G have been mastered on a D tin whistle the more complex semitones and half fingering should not be attempted. There are many tunes which can easily be played using variations of the scales the scales of D and G.