In Honor and remembrance of the Father of the Low Whistle
Thank you.

Bernard Overton

When 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.

The 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 classifications.

A  Low D whistle (bottom) next to a standard, or High D whistle (top) (whistles made by Shaw)





Brian Finnegan      


Copyright 2007 Kevin Reams

Pipers grip
Chieftain whistle set

Davy Spillane
Howard Low Whistles
Joe Mckenna, the Irish Low Whistle

Kevin Crawford
Michael McGoldrick

Phil Hardy, Low whistle
Flook, Haven

Overton whistle set

Finbar Furey