While a relative newcomer to Irish traditional music, the Low Whistle, a larger and lower-toned variation of the Tin Whistle is ideally suited to playing traditional slow airs and slow pieces, due to its haunting, evocative sound. For history, details of the modern low whistle and its integration into Irish Traditional Music – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_whistle.
Fíodhna plays two low whistles in the keys of B flat and A, as displayed on her debut album entitled ‘Air Time’. Customized by Colin Goldie, these hand-made aluminium alloy-finished whistles are full-bodied, dynamic and tonal. Fíodhna particularly enjoys playing the Low A Whistle, due to its bright key, versatility and playability.
Curiously, the story of her first Low A whistle begins and ends in Tripoli, Libya where while working on an education consultancy project, her low whistle went missing. Having reluctantly returned home without the low whistle, she imagined her whistle being played by a roaming camel resting in the desert sun, as it echoed across the sand dunes. ‘Lost in Tripoli’, “now wouldn’t that be a good name for a new slow air’’, she thought. With that, she commissioned Colin Goldie to make another Low A Whistle and it is this whistle which can be heard on her debut album ‘Air Time’. However, the ‘Lost in Tripoli’ air is still lost in translation! Listen instead for her own ‘Grá mo Chroí’ and ‘The Boy from Aughdara’, Tracks 4 and 8. For details on Colin Goldie Low Whistles, see www.colingoldie.de/
Other Whistles that Fíodhna Plays:
Brass, tunable, generation-style whistles with a black plastic mouthpiece and slightly larger finger holes, Sindt whistles are smooth, mellow-toned and responsive. Fíodhna plays the Brass D Sindt for solo performances and likes the tone in the upper register, as well as its ease of playability. For further details on Sindt whistles, see: www.chiffandfipple.com/sindt.html
African Blackwood with a silver mouthpiece, these wooden, tunable, visually attractive whistles play beautifully. Fíodhna plays the D Abell whistle and likes its warm, reedy tone. For further details on Chris Abell whistles, see: www.abellflute.com/whistle.html
Plastic, distinctive and pitch adjustable, Susato whistles are notable for their clear tone and exceptionally assertive volume. Fíodhna plays Kildare Susato whistles in D, C, and Eb, particularly in large sessions without amplification. For further details on Susato whistles, see: http://www.susato.com
Hannigan, S. & Ledsam, D. (2006). The Low Whistle Book, SVM Publications.
Hyland, P. (2013). Whistle Photos: Ballina, Co. Tipperary.
Nye, I. (2003). Low Whistle Photos: Hong Kong, www.iannye-photography.smugmug.com