It’s no wonder that one of the primary instruments in Irish traditional music is called the tin whistle (emphasis on the word “whistle”). Because, when it comes down to it, all one is really doing when playing traditional music is using a musical instrument to “whistle” the tune. You don’t have to make it any more highbrowed than that.
All it takes is one instrument whistling the tune to make it musically complete. Multiple melody instruments might get together to whistle the same tune in unison and although it could become more vibrant as a result, it would be no more complete.
Using an instrument may give you more options than you’d encounter just from whistling – different fingerings, ornaments, embellishments and other accoutrements are at the gifted instrumentalist’s disposal – but there’s no real reason to get flashy with it. Music is music and the tune is the tune.
You can carry this concept over to other genres to a certain extent. Almost anything you’d whistle out of your mouth can be played for enjoyment on an instrument. You may not be able to whistle all of the Trey, Mike, Page, and Fishman parts to Bathtub Gin, but you still might find yourself whistling the melody to that Phish song, for example.
So, the next time you’re getting overwhelmed or frustrated with music, just whistle…it’ll set your mind at ease. And by “whistle” I mean play your instrument!
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