Whistles in the dark

Three Penny Whistles Graphite on paper
Three Penny Whistles
Graphite on paper

My wonderful husband gifted me with a Michael Burke whistle for our anniversary. I’ve been craving one.

I have to admit that, as a whistle player, I have many whistles. I don’t know why, but whistle players often have more whistles than does a bird singing in the moonlight. Perhaps we are always looking for that perfect instrument that will give us a nice loud true middle d, as well as a soft, chiffy high b. A whistle that can be heard above the din of fiddles and pipes. A whistle that won’t screech so loud your fillings fall out. It’s a never ending search and whistle makers oblige us in our quest.

I was struck by the differences of whistle construction, and this week during a sleepless night, drew three of my favorites (from left to right, Susato, Water Weasel, and Burke) to learn how to draw the materials they are made of (black plastic, pvc, and brass). And to admire my new Burke.

The Susato is a good loud session whistle. I played it happily for years. Then the Water Weasel was my favorite whistle until it cracked. It never played the same again, even after it’s creator, Glenn Schultz, repaired it. Now it’s cracked again, and unfortunately, Glenn has passed away.

The Burke is lovely. It’s not very loud, which is great for playing in our apartment. It’s got a sweet sound. It’s a little chiffy on the high notes, which I like. All in all, I’d say the husband got a good lot of husband points for this gift.