The Essential Guide to Irish
Flute and Tin Whistle
By Grey Larsen
480 Pages, Includes 2 CDs
This huge Book/2 CD Set is the first in a
four set series from Flute/Whistle player Grey Larsen (you'll find more info
about the other titles in this series further down the page).
About the Author...
Grey Larsen has been playing and studying tin whistle, Irish flute, and Anglo
concertina since the early 1970s, learning both from elder masters in Ireland,
and from those who had emigrated to his own home turf in the American Midwest.
He has taught, performed, and recorded widely throughout North America, Europe,
and Australia. Also since the 1970s, Grey has been playing and exploring the
traditional fiddle music of his native Midwest and Appalachia.
Quote from Grey Larsen
(about this book):
"I am very excited to announce that my first book, The Essential Guide
to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, is finally finished and just now rolling off
the presses at Mel Bay Publications here in the US. It has taken me eight years
to complete this work - 480 pages plus two CDs. I think it is safe to say that
this is the most comprehensive book yet written on instruments of traditional
Irish music and their music. It is for the beginner to the highly advanced
player of Irish flute, tin whistle, or Boehm-system (modern) flute."
"Grey has, through his research, patience,
and diligence, completed a work on Irish flute and tin whistle that I feel is
essential reading for anybody interested in getting it right."
- Matt Molloy, Irish flute player with The
Bothy Band and The Chieftains
Foreword from The Essential Guide to Irish Flute
and Tin Whistle:
While harps and pipes have dominated the
pantheon of Irish folk instruments, flutes and whistles appear to have enjoyed
an equally long and enduring presence in Irish music history. From the
Christian Ireland to Land League and Orange Lodge fifers in more recent times,
these wind instruments have played a conspicuous role in the shifting currents
of Irish folklife. As a child growing up in County Clare, my first
foray into the world of tin whistle music was with the plebeian Clarke's
whistle. The first one I ever saw was played by Joe Cuneen sitting on the sea
wall in Quilty with his back to the Atlantic. With its blackened conical
anatomy and soggy wooden mouthpiece, it was as omnipresent as tea and pipe
smoke in most country houses. More costly and challenging, the "timber flute"
- as the simple-system flute was called by our elders - lay at the other end
of the music map from the humble Clarke's. Ironically, its popularity in
Ireland owes much to the inventive labors of Theobald Boehm whose key system
flute first appeared in 1847. According to popular thought, the simple-system
instruments that Boehm's flute eclipsed found their way into the ranks of folk
musicians throughout Western Europe. Like Victorian era concertinas that
followed a similar "downward" dissemination from the drawing rooms of "high
society," these simple flutes made by German and English artisans had found
avid patrons among Irish musicians on both sides of the North Atlantic by the
end of the 19th century.
As with Irish fiddle music, it is widely
accepted that some of the most significant developments in the history of
Irish flute playing took place in the United States. With the advent of
recording technology in the 1890s and the popular espousal of Victrolas and 78
rpm discs in the 1920s, Irish flute players followed in the tracks of
luminaries like Patsy Touhey and Michael Coleman. By the 1930s, Leitrim flute
master, John McKenna, had set unprecedented standards for Irish flute playing
in the US while, in Ireland, the milestone recordings of the Ballinakill
Traditional Players focused public attention on the unique flute playing of
Tommy Whelan and Stephen Moloney. In recent decades, North America has again
emerged as a creative cornucopia of Irish flute playing. Home to masters like
Jack Coen, Mike McHale, Joe Murtagh, Mike Rafferty and others, the extended
community of Irish music makers has now reached out and embraced a myriad of
non-Irish performers who have added prodigiously to the artistic diversity of
Irish flute music. Grey Larsen is a rare beacon in this new cohort of Irish
flute players in North America.
Having worked and performed with Grey at various summers schools and festivals
since 1995, I have been aware of his opus as it went through various stages on
the road to maturity. Now that it has reached fruition, it is my pleasure to
recommend it to readers, musicians, historians and, above all, to flute
enthusiasts. Thoroughly researched and comprehensive in scope, exploring the
history of the instruments, as well as proffering a compelling analysis of
ornamentation techniques, it is astutely aware of the pedagogical needs of the
first-time learner and mature student alike. In its in-depth treatment of
great performances in the period 1926-2001, it is marked by an abiding sense
of humanism. This is as much an affirmation of Grey Larsen's reverence for the
traditional storehouse as it is a testament of his deference for the tradition
The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and
Tin Whistle establishes an important benchmark
for future generations of Irish music students, historians and music teachers.
Above all, it fills a conspicuous void in the literature of Irish flute and
tin whistle playing in America.
Mo Cheol Thú, Grey!
Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, MBA, Ph.D.
Jefferson Smurfit Corporation Professor of Irish Studies
Music Department, University of Missouri St. Louis
From the back cover:
This book/2-CD set is for...
the beginner to the highly advanced player of:
* Irish Flute
* Tin Whistle (Pennywhistle)
* Boehm-System Flute
and everyone who is eager to learn about the nuts and bolts, and the heart
and soul of traditional Irish music.
With this book/2-CD set you will...
* Learn a compelling new approach to Irish ornamentation, one that goes far
beyond previous methods. Learn ornamentation techniques never described in
* Discover a new, simplified system for notating Irish ornamentation.
* Hone your skills with 49 ornamentation exercises.
* Get essential advice for Boehm-system flute players from Joanie Madden (of
Cherish the Ladies), Noel Rice, and Chris Abell. Learn to play the
modern flute in a traditional Irish style.
* Learn to play more eloquently with in-depth advice on breathing,
articulation, phrasing, variation, and practice techniques.
* Receive thorough guidance on flute and tin whistle embouchure (tone
production) and ergonomics (your physical relationship with the instrument).
Learn to play in a relaxed way and prevent injuries. This is vital
information for the absolute beginner and advanced player alike.
* Gain deeper insight into traditional Irish music through a broad survey of
Irish music theory and history.
* Dig deep into the music of the masters with 27 meticulous transcriptions
of great Irish flute and whistle performances recorded and released between
1925 and 2001. These transcriptions bring to light, in marvelous detail, the
ornamentation, phrasing, breathing, articulation, and variation styles of
Matt Molloy (of The Chieftains,
The Bothy Band, and Planxty), Joanie Madden (of Cherish the Ladies), Seamus
Egan (of Solas), Kevin Crawford (of Lunasa), Cathal McConnell (of The Boys
of the Lough), Mary Bergin, Willie Clancy, Séamus Ennis, Micho Russell, John
McKenna, Tom Morrison and eleven other important players. Along with the
author's analysis of each performance you'll find photographs and
biographical information about each musician. These transcriptions
present the first deep, analytical, and comparative look into the playing
styles of past and present masters of Irish flute and tin whistle.
* Get 37 additional Irish tune transcriptions with suggested ornamentation
for flute and tin whistle players.
* Get two CDs with 198 tracks of Grey Larsen playing the tunes, exercises,
and examples notated in the book, plus computer software and links to online
* View more than 150 photographs, diagrams, and illustrations, as well as
over 300 instances of music notation which illuminate what is explained in
* Refer to detailed fingering charts for Irish (simple-system) flute and tin
* Understand much better what all those great flute and whistle players are
Table of Contents for The Essential
Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle (the first book)
between The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle
and The Essential Tin
The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox
(the second book - now available!!!
Celtic Encyclopedia for Irish Flute (the third book)
Celtic Encyclopedia for Tin Whistle (the fourth book)
You might also want to take a look at
Grey Larsen's CDs
(you'll find sample audio clips here too):
The Orange Tree
The Green House
Dark of the Moon
The Essential Guide to Irish Flute
and Tin Whistle
(includes 2 CDs)
By Grey Larsen
Catalog# 60654 - Price $38.00