Nine-Hole Whistles

F, G and C nine-hole whistles
F, G and C nine-hole whistles

A new kind of whistle with a strong tone allowing chromatic playing as possible on recorders, but with a minimum of cross-fingering and half-holing, and with strong and well-tuned bottom notes. The nine-hole whistle has three finger holes plus a thumb hole for the left hand and four finger holes plus a thumb hole for the right hand.

Alto-F nine-hole whistle - 190 GBP
made out of thin-walled aluminium tubing with 20mm bore, tuning barrel and foot joint.
Alto-G nine-hole whistle - 170 GBP
made out of thin-walled aluminium tubing with 18mm bore, tuning barrel and foot joint.
Soprano-C nine-hole whistle - 135 GBP
made out of thin-walled aluminium tubing with 15mm bore, tuning barrel.

Description:

Below for convenience the note names for the Soprano C model are used. For the Alto F and G models you may want to transpose these names. See also the fingering chart below.

In many ways one can play the nine-hole whistle like a recorder, with some important differences:

  • The added right thumb hole (RT) adds a strong and in-tune F# (left hand holes and right thumb hole closed). Closing the right hand first finger (R1) as well produces a strong an in-tune F. So no forked fingerings are used for these two important notes, which are often problematic in tone and intonation on recorders. With RT and the other right finger holes open a G is played (all left finger holes closed).
  • In the second octave the fingerings for F and F# are the same, no forked fingerings are used.
  • The cylindrical bore and wide tone holes allow for strong bottom notes (C, D, E, F, F#). The second octave C and D can also be produced by overblowing, as whistle players appreciate, so a player has alternatives for these notes (especially the second octave D with both thumbs and six fingers down can prove very useful).
  • The left hand notes (A, B, C, C#, D) are fingered the same as on recorders, and the left thumb hole (LT) works the same. It can also be "pinched" as on a recorder for the second octave notes, and thereby the second octave notes can be played a bit softer than it is possible to do on standard whistles. In contrast to recorders, this pinching (half-holing) of LT is not needed for the lower second octave.
  • For G#, Bb and C forked fingering is used as for recorders.
  • A strong Eb/D# can be played by half-holing the large R3 hole.
  • The Alto F and G models both have a foot joint with a raised bottom hole (R4), which can be rotated to suit the player's grip. The Alto F model needs large hands to cover the bottom holes with the finger pads, for smaller hand sizes they can be covered using piper's grip.

Some questions answered:

Is it easy to adapt using the right thumb?
In my experience it is no more difficult than training the left thumb on a recorder, and even easier than learning forked fingering for F# and F on a baroque-style recorder. For instance to play a C major scale one lifts one right hand finger after the other, and when lifting R1 one also opens the right thumb hole, so R1 and RT move together. And when playing a D major scale starting with R4 open first R3 is opened for E, then R2 and R1 are opened together for F#, then RT is opened for G, etc. the higher notes as on a recorder. So one learns to move two fingers at the same time for the single tone step.
What about holding the whistle?
When playing the right hand notes the right thumb is on the whistle covering its hole and giving the usual support. When playing left hand notes the right thumb need to support the instrument only for the C#, but it could be used for support also when playing B and C. It needs to be off its hole when playing G and A, and on plus some other right fingers for forked fingering for G# and Bb. When using the right thumb, playing F# and G, I like to hold down R4 for additional steadiness, or closing and opening RT and R3 both together, which has the added effect of flattening F# slightly, in fact producing a just intoned F#, which I prefer when playing in the key of D.

Fingering Chart for (select key)

Legend: ● = closed, ○ = open, ◘ = half closed, or pinched thumb hole

low register notes:

C ● ● ●   ● ● ● ●
C# ● ● ●   ● ● ● ◘
D ● ● ●   ● ● ● ○
Eb ● ● ●   ● ● ◘ ○
E ● ● ●   ● ● ○ ○
F ● ● ●   ● ○ ○ ○
F# ● ● ●   ○ ○ ○ ○
G ● ● ●   ○ ○ ○ ○
G# ● ● ○   ● ● ● ○
A ● ● ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
Bb ● ○ ●   ● ● ● ○
B ● ○ ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
C ○ ● ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
C# ● ● ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
D ○ ● ○   ○ ○ ○ ○

high register notes:

C ● ● ●   ● ● ● ●
C# ● ● ●   ● ● ● ◘
D ● ● ●   ● ● ● ○
Eb ● ● ●   ● ● ◘ ○
E ● ● ●   ● ● ○ ○
F ● ● ●   ● ○ ○ ○
F# ● ● ●   ○ ○ ○ ○or   F# ● ● ●   ○ ○ ● ○
G ● ● ●   ○ ○ ○ ○
G# ● ● ○   ● ○ ○ ○
A ● ● ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
Bb ● ○ ●   ○ ○ ○ ○
B ● ○ ○   ○ ○ ○ ○
C ● ○ ●   ● ○ ○ ○or   C ○ ● ●   ● ● ○ ○
C# ● ○ ●   ● ○ ● ●or   C# ● ● ●   ● ○ ● ●
D ● ○ ●   ○ ● ○ ○or   D ○ ● ●   ○ ● ○ ○

See also: C Recorder Whistle


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