The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle

Grey Larsen has written an impressive
480 page book
dedicated to the art of the Irish flute and the popular tin whistle. Divided
into eight chapters,  The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle
(Mel Bay Publications ISBN
0-7866-4942-9 , 2003) is an effective book that begins with a basic introduction to Irish
traditional music. The chapter includes music notation and the tunes can be
learned thanks to set of two CDs that come with the book. Even though The Essential Guide to Irish
Flute and Tin Whistle

contains numerous sections of music notation, Irish music aficionados that can’t
read music can still make a good use of the book by following the music on the
accompanying CDs.

Section 2 of the book, which includes chapters 3 through 6 focus on the
instruments: their history, how to hold them and how to breathe. Larsen has
collected many vintage photographs that show old instruments and the book also
includes numerous drawings that clarify some of the details.Section 3 is the longest and is dedicated to ornamentation, a
major element of Irish music critical to the flute player’s unique expression.
These embellishments descend from the Irish bagpipes. Since a bellows powered
these pipes, the only way to initiate a repeated note was with a special finger
articulation. This led Irish pipers to evolve an elaborate vocabulary of
fingered embellishments. This language was inherited by the Irish flute and
whistle, and never before Larsen has anyone so thoroughly explained on paper the
complete range of these ornaments and how to play them. Section 4 centers on articulation, phrasing and the use of breath.

The sections at the end of The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin
include complete versions of several traditional Irish tunes: jigs,
reels and hornpipes;  27 transcriptions from some of the most important
The flute is really
,” Larsen exclaims. “Your breath is producing the sound. Not wood. Not a
metal string. You can’t see what is making the sound. It is very ethereal. It’s
such a direct route into your soul

Grey Larsen discovered Irish music in the early 1970’s and then embarked on a
passionate and devoted journey that continues to this day. In the ensuing
decades he has become one of America’s most highly regarded flute players. His
accomplishments in the field and compositions in the tradition are equally
respected by musicians in Ireland, America, and across the globe.

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