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 Traditional Music >> The Scottish Whistle >> Tutorials >> Tutorial 15.1

The Scottish Whistle


J McIljohn #2



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Whistle Tutorial - Lesson 15.1




WHEN PLAYING ANY WIND INSTRUMENT it's necessary to breathe in to replenish your air, and because you're blowing into the whistle you need to breathe more often than normal. However, it's important that the tune doesn't sound as if it's stopping and starting, so you have to acquire the skill of breathing while maintaining the flow of the music.

In classical music for wind instruments you sometimes get indications of where to breathe, or the music is composed to allow for this. In Scottish and Irish music, however, this isn't done because it's mostly written for fiddle. You have to figure out where to breathe yourself, although it does become more natural with experience.

The rule about breathing is simple: you either have to shorten a note, or miss a note out completely. In practical terms you'd only shorten a note which has enough length in the first place, so look for quarter notes or longer. Similarly, you don't want to miss out a long note, as that will probably affect the tune too much. So shorten quarter notes, miss out eighth notes.

This is how a phrase is written, with no indications of breathing space:
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This is how you would play it, shortening the note:



Missing Out
This is how it's written:
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This is how it's played:




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