Colin McEnroe Show: Pucker Up And Blow - The World Of Whistling

Whistling is weird, but it's also beautiful ... and becoming pretty cool.

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Jesse Stanford plays the xylophone.
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Steve Metcalf
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John Parson
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Jesse Stanford
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John Parson whistles.
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Colin McEnroe Show: Pucker Up And Blow - The World Of Whistling
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Colin McEnroe Show: Pucker Up And Blow - The World Of Whistling

We got interested in whistling after the Library of Congress launched its National Jukebox, an amazing online compilation of playable, often scratchy music from the library's collection. There's a lot of music there, including a whole section devoted to whistling. (Also yodeling, but that's another show ... )

Our semi-regular music expert Steve Metcalf had written, back in 1991, one of the more definitive articles on the history of artistic whistling and its status in the present day. 
 
We discovered also the world of competitive whistling and learned about Luke Janssen, a figure of controversy at the International Whistling Competition because of his unorthodox style of "palate" whistling
 
We also found John Parson, the whistling king of Connecticut. And we gradually realized there's more to say about whistling than we can possibly fit in this show.
 
Leave your comments below, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

***This show originally aired May 26, 2010***


  

Comments

E-mail from Jim

Great whistling solo on both John Lennon’s and Bryan Ferry’s versions of the song “Jealous Guy”.

E-mail from SHJ

American composer Dan Locklair uses whistling to great effect in some of his choral music. CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) performed some of this music on their "Christmas in the Americas" concert in December 2010.

The whistler virtuoso Steve has in mind is Leo Eide.

E-mail from Geoff

A couple things...

First, did you ever whistle and hum at the same time? You get a sound like the old b-movies used when the alien spaceships were landing.

Second... The way I learned was by hearing the quintesential whistle song as a kid... Andy Griffith's theme... ahhhh

Third... Where in the state are good places to whistle? I always look for large stairwells with NO cloth to absorb sound, so they have to be very live. Where do people go to whistle?

E-mail from Tony

Great show, Colin! Who knew I was a palette whistler?!?! I've been whistling since I was just a lad in Seneca Falls, NY. In addition to palette-whistling, thanks, partially, to your show, I realize I can inhale-whistle, pucker-whistle, kazoo-whistle (through clenched teeth) and tongue-lip-whistle!

I have a customer-friend who once suggested I take up the harmonica, since I don't play an instrument. I told her that I DO, INDEED, play an instrument...one without spit-valves, cases, books or oil. That instrument is my mouth, and I DON'T leave home without it!