The whistle and flute in Wales

Whistles

And when you heard the tin whistle, the children ran to watch them practicing the dancing.

Margretta Thomas, 1880-1772

The penny whistle or tin whistle has been a popular instrument with players through out the world owing to its low cost, ready availability and ease of construction.

The oldest whistle found in Wales is believed to be 900 years old and was found at Chirk castle. It appears to have been made from the bone of an animal.

Other historical evidence of its use in Wales includes the Nant Garw sunday school annual tea parties which took place during the 19th century when it was used to accompany the dancing when no harp was available.

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BBC Radio Wales, The Traditional Music of Wales

A close relation of the whistle is the flute. Until the late 1800s most flutes were made out of wood, although most are now made from metal. It was usually played with other instruments such as the harp and fiddle.

The black wooden flutes we see traditional players using today were once orchestral instruments that were discarded when the modern metal version came into use.


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