I recently began a walk along the Ceredigion Coastal Path which, as part of the Wales Coast Path, runs from Cardigan in the south over 60 miles to Ynyslas on the northern edge of the county. This is my diary of the event.
Friday 24th May 2019 07:54
Location: Phoenix Camp, Cwmpengraig
Morning has come and the weather has turned warm again. I slept fitfully until 07:45 then when it was time to get up I just couldn’t, the paralysis of sleep still weighed heavy upon me, although I have now learned that a concerted effort to rise up will overcome the restraints of the effect much like the thrust forces required to lift a Saturn rocket free from the constraints of Earth’s gravity. All is pretty silent here in the camping field at Pengraig Farm in Cwmpengraig, the late morning chorus continues, a bird I don’t recognise is warbling loudly, the robins have fallen silent. Human activity is minimal, no roar of traffic, no voices or banging of doors and yet it is not silent like the forest where we stopped the van for a moment last year. I have my tea and I think about the days ahead and my morning tea without milk. I have been considering whether ground almonds, dried ground almonds, which when added to water will make almond milk, would have the same effect if a few granules were added to a cup of tea or at a push added to a drop of water and mixed before adding to the tea. Perhaps a drop of soya yoghurt could be an alternative, or perhaps I just drink black tea for the duration. Not having tea in the morning is not an option of course and carrying a litre of milk for a couple of cups of tea each day seems over the top and the milk would go off long before I’d even made a significant dent in it.
Last night D showed me the basics of the tin whistle, it is actually much simpler than I had thought. The one we have is a ‘G’ whistle, so it’s in the key of ‘G’, so the lowest note it can play is a ‘G’. To play the lowest note you cover all 6 holes and blow. Amazingly it has a range of 3 octaves, the higher octaves accessed by blowing harder and then harder still. The highest octave will definitely improve my chances of seeing dolphins and whales this walk as they head in to see what all the shouting is about. So to recap, holding all the holes closed is the lowest note of the whistle, the key of the whistle. For this one it’s a ‘G’, other whistles are in other keys, D’s flute is in the key of ‘D’. Opening each hole in turn from the bottom of the whistle upwards raises the pitch one note, ie 6 holes covered is G, 5 holes covered is A, 4 holes is B, 3 holes is C, 2 holes is D, 1 hole is E, no holes covered is F and finally cover all the holes and blow harder for the G of the next octave up. Simples. So from here it seems I have several paths I could follow, not including the Ceredigion Coast Path of course. Path 1 might be to learn which finger position represents which note and then use sheet music to learn tunes ie reading music – the dots. Option 2 would be to just play around on the thing, learning the sound of the note and learning by practice the finger position for each note by the sound of the note, not by the name of it. This sounds the option I am leaning towards, this sounds like the key to learning to play by ear. Learning the finger positions to create notes and then practising the notes and living in their world. The ability to play clearly and progress up and down the scales quickly and clearly until I can instinctively figure out a tune the same as one might whistle a tune. That is my hope and that is what I am hoping to achieve, to know how to play the whistle the same as I can whistle a tune, swapping mouth shapes for finger positions.
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