Whistling

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PaulT
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Whistling

Post by PaulT » Wed Dec 23, 2020 11:31 am

It makes sense, now that I think about it, but it surprised me nevertheless.

I was idly whistling some Christmas tunes the other day when it struck me, I was hitting notes I used to have to drop down on. So I did a quick check... and found that I now have a two octave whistling range (ok, the first couple low notes aren't the greatest, but I'm counting them). Somehow, from last Christmas to this Christmas, I picked up three clean notes on the high end of my whistling range.

I expect that the "somehow" is due to my efforts to improve on trombone. I haven't worked at all on my whistling, but I have worked to extend my range on trombone. And apparently my whistling came along for the ride.

And now... I'm "cross training"! ;)
Last edited by PaulT on Wed Dec 23, 2020 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
timothy42b
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Re: Whistling

Post by timothy42b » Wed Dec 23, 2020 11:55 am

If I gained 3 notes I would then have 4.

I've always been unable to whistle a tune and I've worked on it a good bit.
WilliamLang
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Re: Whistling

Post by WilliamLang » Wed Dec 23, 2020 12:08 pm

i've always wondered if the musculuture is similar between whistling and playing, or the ability to control pitch with the tongue is related to the high range. i've had a 3.5 octave whistling range and some parts of it definitely transfer
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SwissTbone
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Re: Whistling

Post by SwissTbone » Wed Dec 23, 2020 12:17 pm

Don't know about musculature, but the feel of whistling high notes definitely helps me playing high notes on the trombone.
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Re: Whistling

Post by Posaunus » Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:30 pm

I can squeeze out 3 whistling octaves. 3½ is indeed impressive.

I think I'm a better whistler than I am a trombonist! :roll:
Doug Elliott
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Re: Whistling

Post by Doug Elliott » Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:21 pm

It is absolutely related.
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Re: Whistling

Post by harrisonreed » Wed Dec 23, 2020 4:31 pm

It's got to do with the tongue and jaw
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Re: Whistling

Post by GabrielRice » Wed Dec 23, 2020 6:06 pm

Absolutely related. I make all my students watch this video at some point:

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Re: Whistling

Post by SwissTbone » Wed Dec 23, 2020 11:34 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 3:21 pm
It is absolutely related.
I actually discovered that relationship thanks to a lesson with Doug.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Whistling

Post by hyperbolica » Thu Dec 24, 2020 7:33 am

This is interesting. Never thought about it that way. I've never been able to whistle very well, but my embouchure (in the past anyway) functioned pretty well. I've still got a decent high range. Is it a 1:1 relationship or just an indicator of some specific aspect?
WilliamLang
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Re: Whistling

Post by WilliamLang » Thu Dec 24, 2020 9:31 am

i personally think it's an indicator. to my mind, it's like if you're good at basketball you might also be good at volleyball, but not always.
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timothy42b
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Re: Whistling

Post by timothy42b » Thu Dec 24, 2020 11:21 am

I suspect that if you can whistle, the tongue positions that you use to whistle well transfer to trombone.

But if you can't whistle to begin with, like me, those tongue shapes still matter on trombone.
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Re: Whistling

Post by Kdanielsen » Thu Dec 24, 2020 11:44 am

I think the real benefit is exploring resonance within and using your oral cavity, and manipulating it to change pitch, vibrato, etc. It’s the perfect toy to lay the groundwork with.
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Jimprindle
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Re: Whistling

Post by Jimprindle » Thu Dec 24, 2020 8:17 pm

Besides the obvious benefit of learning how to shape the oral cavity for different ranges—if you can whistle in tune it might help your pitch on the telescoping tube as well.
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Re: Whistling

Post by baileyman » Fri Dec 25, 2020 7:09 am

I like to hear people explain this, but I sure wish they would dump the mythological parts.

It may be that when a guy says "air speed" everyone listening knows exactly what he means and can then apply the idea. But there's a huge problem. It's all myth. The problem with it is that the vibrating lips measure out a specific quantity of air per cycle for every pitch and volume as a function of resonance. The "speed" of the air through the aperture ain't gonna change without a change in pitch or volume.

What he means when he says "speed" is "pitch of the mouth cavity". And he spends most of his time talking about that using words like "vowels" and in his diagram "volume". He could be more clear to dump "speed" and stick with these more informative words. ("Vowel" has some baggage though. Everyone can have an argument about whether they should be French or English vowels or some other!)

In my own exploration of this I find there is not enough change in mouth volume available to get the full horn range. (Just like my whistle range is lots smaller than my horn range.) But then, that's using a single chop tension. Maybe a bit more than an octave of pitch change is available at a single chop tension through mouth cavity pitch change. Move the chop tension to a difference place, though, and then the whole scheme works in a different range.

So there are at least two independent dimensions to pitch determination, mouth volume and chop tension. Between these this guy is highlighting mouth volumes, and they sure seem far more useful than chop tension. People listening to him should make loads of progress, but should just ignore the speed thing.
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Re: Whistling

Post by GabrielRice » Fri Dec 25, 2020 8:34 am

baileyman - yes, but...is chop tension any more useful an idea than air speed? Tension where? Corners? Center? Above the lips? Below?

In a sense it's all mythology. A pianist or a violinist can see pretty much everything about their tone production. We can see basically none of it. We are always dealing in analogy, even when our analogies are informed by study of anatomy and/or physics.

I'm a lot less concerned with what is accurate from an anatomical and mechanical standpoint than I am with what images and ideas are useful. And what images and ideas are useful are not the same for everybody.

For that reason, I think the important thing about that video is not Eli's explanation of the why but his demonstration of the how. The point is to free up the tongue to help by doing the finger breathing exercise.
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Re: Whistling

Post by Elow » Fri Dec 25, 2020 9:56 am

I’ve never been able to whistle, should i practice more lip slurs?
PaulT
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Re: Whistling

Post by PaulT » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:10 am

Another "cavity/tongue" music maker is the harmonica. Once you start "bending" notes on a harp, you are doing awful things to those poor reeds by manipulating your tongue and oral cavity (and, at least at first, you will start burning through harmonicas... it does get better..., several harps down the road ;)

If you have a harmonica lying around, and have never executed a "draw bend"... begin a draw note (suck air) on one of the holes (#4 is a good one), then slam the front of your tongue down, pushing it back as far and fast as you can with your jaw dropping in the process... and the note will follow the tongue, dropping a full pitch or so. Maybe not the first time, but it will by the end of the day. Soon you will be honking away like Blind Willie.

If you can whistle by drawing air in, this same tongue move, front down and back with a jaw drop, will pull the whistle down.

You can also raise the pitch of a harmonica reed by "overblowing", but, compared to a draw, that one is a bugger to perform and is beyond the purview of this post. But, it's the same principle, change the pitch by changing the shape and velocity of the air flow by manipulating the tongue and the shape of the oral cavity.

To hear some harp magic, youtube Howard Levy. Amazing.
Kdanielsen
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Re: Whistling

Post by Kdanielsen » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:25 am

GabrielRice wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 8:34 am
baileyman - yes, but...is chop tension any more useful an idea than air speed? Tension where? Corners? Center? Above the lips? Below?

In a sense it's all mythology. A pianist or a violinist can see pretty much everything about their tone production. We can see basically none of it. We are always dealing in analogy, even when our analogies are informed by study of anatomy and/or physics.

I'm a lot less concerned with what is accurate from an anatomical and mechanical standpoint than I am with what images and ideas are useful. And what images and ideas are useful are not the same for everybody.

For that reason, I think the important thing about that video is not Eli's explanation of the why but his demonstration of the how. The point is to free up the tongue to help by doing the finger breathing exercise.
When I was studying with Gabe he had me watch this video and try thinking about this stuff. This coincided with a really rough period for my playing and these concepts, combined with Caruso and The Buzzing Book really helped me rebuild and learn what it meant to resonate the instrument.

Like so many things in music, the concepts are more powerful and nuanced than the language allows us to easily express.
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timothy42b
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Re: Whistling

Post by timothy42b » Fri Dec 25, 2020 12:45 pm

When I first watched the Epstein video, I agreed with baileyman (and still do.) Much of what he says does not make sense from a physics standpoint, and metaphors mean different things to different people.

But I did find his application useful anyway, even if I think it's for different reasons than he does.

baileyman has talked quite a bit about adjusting pitch with vocal resonances, and I think those align quite well with what Epstein does, though not what he says he does.
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Re: Whistling

Post by Bach5G » Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:34 pm

I found the fMRI videos useful.
baileyman
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Re: Whistling

Post by baileyman » Fri Dec 25, 2020 4:02 pm

PaulT wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:10 am
Another "cavity/tongue" music maker is the harmonica. Once you start "bending" notes on a harp, you are doing awful things to those poor reeds by manipulating your tongue and oral cavity (and, at least at first, you will start burning through harmonicas... it does get better..., several harps down the road ;)

If you have a harmonica lying around, and have never executed a "draw bend"... begin a draw note (suck air) on one of the holes (#4 is a good one), then slam the front of your tongue down, pushing it back as far and fast as you can with your jaw dropping in the process... and the note will follow the tongue, dropping a full pitch or so. Maybe not the first time, but it will by the end of the day. Soon you will be honking away like Blind Willie.

If you can whistle by drawing air in, this same tongue move, front down and back with a jaw drop, will pull the whistle down.

You can also raise the pitch of a harmonica reed by "overblowing", but, compared to a draw, that one is a bugger to perform and is beyond the purview of this post. But, it's the same principle, change the pitch by changing the shape and velocity of the air flow by manipulating the tongue and the shape of the oral cavity.

To hear some harp magic, youtube Howard Levy. Amazing.
Oh yes! Yes! Me, too! Harmonica is fascinating and irritating in the extreme! Levy is magic.

The draw feels to me exactly like what folks in LA call "benders". (High rear tongue helps a lot.) I have yet to hear anyone there do them in time though, usually just a timeless warp. Time them and they get really interesting. Through fifth partial there's a reliable half step available (and more lower, less higher) that is fun to play with. Like, in suitable range, play everything in tune but a position sharp. Do A to C intervals in second, etc. Do your Arbans/Phil Wilson triplets (with half step down in the middle) all in single positions. Add the "draw" to your "dle" syllable. I suspect but cannot prove that some of Fontana's impossible slide shifts may have been done through bending the dle or even fast single. I'm pretty certain lots of half step approaches were bent.
timothy42b
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Re: Whistling

Post by timothy42b » Tue Dec 29, 2020 2:10 pm

Does anyone have any advice on learning to whistle? I've clearly been doing it totally wrong all this time. Or, not doing it totally wrong.

Just now I've been able to make some tiny squeaks that might be a whistle except a dog would need a hearing aid to pick them up. What is the secret?
WilliamLang
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Re: Whistling

Post by WilliamLang » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:08 pm

for whistling help - the embouchure is much more based on the area of the lips right inside the corners, rather than the corners themselves. i also find that the aperture for whistling is more of an oval shape rather than the tiny circle we blow air out of while playing the horn. it might be helpful to experiment with pinching the area behind your corners together slightly and seeing if that activates the right airflow. the lips should come out in more of a pucker then when we play also, i believe.

there are a ton of different opinions on this and a lot of ways to access the sound - hope this helps though!
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Re: Whistling

Post by ArbanRubank » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:46 pm

Kdanielsen
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Re: Whistling

Post by Kdanielsen » Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:51 pm

I learned to whistle by sucking air in rather than blowing it out. Once I could do that it was easy to get the other way down.
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Re: Whistling

Post by Cotboneman » Tue Dec 29, 2020 6:05 pm

Elow wrote:
Fri Dec 25, 2020 9:56 am
I’ve never been able to whistle, should i practice more lip slurs?
I'm embarrassed to say that I have never been able to whistle either! My ex used to always make fun of me because I played trombone, yet could not whistle!
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Re: Whistling

Post by jbeatenbough » Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:37 am

I only whistle while I work...
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