July 15, 2010

My latest Low D was recently reviewed by Richard Cook who has been playing Celtic music for over 30 years and has quite an impressive list of credentials including movie scores, TV scores, Imax film scores, theme park sound tracks, CD-Rom soundtracks and hundreds of recordings. You can check out his website at and be impressed with what Richard has accomplished.

One of the most important bits of information I have learned from Richard is that due to the fact that Celtic music often includes the Uillean pipes, which are tuned to “Just Temperament”, and that some of the notes on a whistle must deviate from the standard “Equal Tempered” scale to fit with this instrument… Specifically the F# should play a bit flat and the low B slightly flat. He has also pointed out that Irish flute and whistle players are caught between a rock and a hard place on the tuning of the C# hole. Players coming from a classical background want the open C# to be as sharp as possible (that note being very sharp on a Boehm flute for example) and don’t care much about the tuning of the cross fingered C natural. While oftentimes people coming from a traditional background (like Richard) have as their first priority a good in-tune cross fingered C natural using this fingering (OXX OOO) and don’t mind the open C# being rather flat.

With this in mind I am making my standard tuning, as of July 15, 2010, my standard approach to tuning the whistle (intonation). However, if you are using the whistle for a repertoire other than Irish Traditional music I am still offering an intonation that is spot on to “Equal Temperament” which has an in-tune C# and a cross fingered C natural that requires this fingering (OXX XOX). An extra benefit of using the Itrad intonation is that the top three holes are closer together and have an easier reach. If you prefer the “Equal Tempered” scale please follow your order with an email to clarify your preference.