In Honor and remembrance of the Father of the Low Whistle
asked, "What is a Low whistle?", one is tempted to first compare it to
it's diminutive sibling, the tin or penny whistle. While the two
instruments arguably share many similar characteristics, such as
construction and tuning, the Irish Low whistle has lately come in to
it's own as a distinctive, individual instrument in it's own right.
This renaissance of the Low whistle can mostly be attributed to
two different phenomena, the haunting opening melodic phrase of
"Riverdance" (courtesy of Davy Spillane), and the somewhat over played
"My Heart Will Go On", the theme song to the movie "Titanic".
Indeed, the distinctive voice of the Low whistle is now featured in
numerous movie soundtracks, so even if you haven't seen one before,
you've probably heard one! But the Low whistle is also slowly
gaining acceptance with the music from which it sprung, Irish
Traditional music. At first delegated to being pulled out only
for the occasional air, players such as Brian Finnegan are now proving
that the Low whistle can be used to play jigs and reels at session
speed, holding it's own alongside the more traditionally accepted
flute, pipes and fiddle. Straddling both worlds, the Irish Low
whistle continues to grow in popularity, with more players and more
makers appearing daily. This website is dedicated to this awesome
and deceptively simple instrument.
Low whistle is a vertical, end blown fipple flute with six holes.
It is similar in construction to a tin/penny whistle but is much
larger, being anywhere between 16 to over 28 inches in length,
and can be cylindrical or conical in shape. They are most
commonly made from aluminum, but can be made from brass, wood, various
types of plastics and even silver. General consensus classifies
any whistle tuned to or below the key of "G" as a "Low" whistle (There
are a few who consider an "A" to be a Low whistle as well).
Others have attempted to organize the different keys of whistles
into families (similar to recorders), such as bass, tenor and alto,
however, there is no standardization between makers on these
A Low D whistle (bottom) next to a standard, or High D whistle (top) (whistles made by Shaw)
Copyright 2007 Kevin Reams