I hear you.
The actual process of learning helps keep us young !
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
updated by @strumelia: 01/19/23 09:35:40AM
Well the good news is that although dulcimers are more expensive than most whistles, they still usually cost less money than most guitars, fiddles, or mandolins.
I also want to caution you that just because you may see a relationship between the modes/scales on both whistle and dulcimer, that doesn't mean it's not an entirely new learning curve involved in each instrument. String and wind instruments are very different animals for sure. Both are challenging!
I enjoyed everything you said in that last post -- it clarified/put into words some things that I already sort of suspected -- but what interested me most was your second sentence. As I said earlier, I'm interested in getting a dulcimer some day, and your assertion that there's a similarity between whistles and dulcimers is a brand new thought for me. It makes me more eager than before to go ahead and get a dulcimer. I still have the same holdup (I really should be better at the first three instruments I've adopted before moving on to a fourth) but maybe by Christmas I'll feel comfortable putting it on my wish-list.
Honestly, I'm a complete amateur at whistles. But whistle holes are laid out in much the same way as dulcimer frets, and i know a couple things about that. ;)
It helped me to think of 'finding the tune from different starting locations' on my whistle. Much the same as if you sang a song and found it too high to sing so you restart singing it a little lower. (incidentally i found that plaintive/minor keys on the whistle are often home-based around the hole that's second from the bottom hole... that's one quick way to get a minor scale)
Many common tunes dip a couple of notes below their 'home' or Key note at some point in the tune. That's why so many whistle players will play a G tune on a D whistle, but start the tune with the Home note (G) being the third hole up on the d whistle rather than all fingers down (D). That way, they can dip down to the lower D, E, or F note if needed in the tune. --> alternately, if one plays a tune in the higher octave of a whistle, you'll get all the lower notes you could possibly want (if your ears don't mind the high octave).
Amazing Slowdowner is not expensive, and you can use the little sliders in it to not only raise or lower the key of a tune file you are playing on it, but also just to speed it up or slow it down. That's so handy for practicing!
This is one thing I've been confused about from the start. My beginner book tells me that the fingering is almost identical for D or G on the D whistle, the only difference being C# vs natural C. But if we have the tabs for a song in G, we can't just use the fingering for C# to change to key of D, can we? Wouldn't it sound off-key? So maybe we can change all the notes (and then come up with new tabs), but that doesn't seem quite right either. And yet it seems that's exactly what I'm doing when I play the same tabs on the A whistle, changing D to A, E to B, etc. Now, if I play the same key of G tabs from my D whistle on a G whistle, I'm changing D to a G, which matches what you said about the lower three notes.
I should point out here that I never studied music theory. I mean, I'm happy to have a back and forth like this, but you certainly know far more about music than I do. So when you ask me to correct you if you're wrong, I assume you are right. All I can do is see if I understand if what you said makes sense mathematically, and to me it does. Sorry if my thinking out loud above sounds like rambling, I just needed to get there on my own
That program sounds great -- perhaps I'll check it out.
Wow you've explained that really well, thank you!
Sometimes to play along with a recording i like (with whatever type of instrument I'm using), I'll use the sweet little program called Amazing Slowdowner to lower or raise the pitch of the recording without effecting the speed. I can change the key of the recording to be the key i want to play in... it's so cool. If i get a nice result i can SAVE the tweaked recording file on my computer so i can practice with it later without having to adjust the recording again.
But I guess playing with other live players or in jams is the most compelling reason to have a few diff key whistles on hand.
That said, most good whistle players can nimbly play in the keys of both G and D on their D whistle. Some say G is best played on a D whistle, as you get the handy lower 3 notes down from the tonic when in the second octave. (i think i have this right, correct me if not!)
For me, it's mostly to play along with other people who are singing or playing in a different key. For example, the tabs I found for Wild Mountain Thyme are in G, whereas some of the more well-known recordings are in D. Rather than change the tabs for my D whistle, I play the same tabs on my A whistle. Or there's a woman on youtube whose playing I like, she plays Foggy Dew with the Bb whistle. When I play along with her, I use the Bb as well. But even if I'm not playing along with anyone, sometimes I may want to play a song in the key it was written for, whereas almost all the tabs I find are either in D or G. I understand the practicality of that, but still.
Yes, that is cool.
Having no experience with and very little knowledge of dulcimers, I wouldn't have known that. I guess I was figuring it would be a starter instrument and then if I liked playing it enough I'd move on to something better. But what you said makes me wonder if getting something too cheap might actually turn me off to playing, which is of course counterproductive. I'll have to think on that a bit. Maybe for now I'll stick with whistles and guitars. Oh, and also I got a kalimba for my birthday a few months ago and that's been kind of fun to play around with.
This is kinda cool as well, if you have a piece of thin leather hanging around..
It's really hard to get a decently playable dulcimer for $100, unless you stumble upon a lucky playable used one at Goodwill or a pawn shop. About ten yrs ago it was easier, but now the starting level for decent ones is closer to $200. Be careful about cheap ones made in China or Pakistan etc... some can be difficult to play.
I actually do flap down the top before rolling up the pouch. Definitely don't want my whistles falling out! And I don't doubt I'll be getting new ones as time goes by, but right now I have a hard enough time with the A and Bb, not sure I'm ready for, say, a low D. But I'll get there.
You might be interested to know that I have a not-too-expensive (under $100) mountain dulcimer on my list. If any of my kids or my wife decide to get me one, that might be my next endeavor. I'd like to get better on guitar before trying that.
Clever to use the placemats that way! They remind me a bit of the fabric rollup cases I use for my double-pointed knitting needles in various sizes. Usually the needle cases have a flap you fold down before rolling the case up, so the needles can't slip out. (needles being thinner and more likely to slip out than whistles) They tie with a satin ribbon that's attached to the case. I love nifty pocket cases like these!
I assume your wife has a sewing machine? Maybe as a birthday present you can go with her to a fabric store and pick out 1 yard of a fabric that really appeals to you, and she can make you another customized case. If you buy lower toned whistles you'll need a longer/bigger case. (because I bet you will be buying more whistles!)