Selected the new piece and started rehearsing the penny whistle part on my Clarke. It's a bit high. Shrill, even. Annoy-the-neighbors shrill. Of course I already have a problem since the Clarke is in D, and the drones on the Highland Pipes I'm going to try to simulate are in A.
Sorta. Neither is a chromatic instrument, and pipes aren't tuned to 440 either. Their "A" is a bit sharp of Bb. Not that it matters overmuch since my crumhorn (which according to Susato is an alto) only goes down to D itself. See what I mean about range?
So it was worth looking into a second whistle. Of course the simple questions are often the hard ones. People don't make web pages or YouTube videos answering the simple questions, they make them for people struggling with the next steps. It took forty minutes to find the ranges of various tin whistles.
In case you were wondering, the standard tin whistle reaches the D below Middle C, the E, F, and G are pitched higher, and the C and Bb are pitched lower, with the latter being the lowest of the "soprano" whistles; after that you are in the (much more expensive!) Low Whistles, with D the most typical but G not uncommon.
And so I've got a Bb Feadóg on order.
I took the Clarke to work because I can still rehearse the fingering even if the pitches are going to change. But it was too shrill there, too -- I have classes above me and an office next door. This is an increasing problem and I don't have a great solution.
To be able to practice you need to be in a place where you are comfortable failing. Where you can try things and mess up, and where you can go over and over and over an exercise because that's how you get better. It hurts your practice when you are self-conscious and aware other people can hear you. But what do you do?
Practice mutes are a stop-gap. They change the sound, they change the feel. And some instruments (like the tin whistle) don't have an easy mute. Six hundred years of development has gone into turning what had been chamber instruments into power tools that can project to the back of a symphony hall. Those years have done nothing good towards making apartments more soundproof, or providing safe spaces for practice.
(Well, honestly, the trumpet has always been a weapon of war. Even if the Renaissance sackbut is quiet enough it can do a duet with a lute. The Great Highland Pipes, of course, are a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Do you know why pipers walk while playing? They're trying to get away from the noise.)
I could take classes, and that might get me a chance to sign up for a few snatched hours in a room at some inconvenient location. Or I could pay $14 an hour for the same opportunity in Oakland. Thing is, I'm a peripatetic practicer. I have a ukulele hanging by my desk and it works out great to pick it up for a few minutes when I need a break from writing or during a slow part in a movie. I keep an instrument at work and I take it out on my scheduled breaks.
And the same problems are there for recording. Worse, in a way, because if I want to tinker with a piece I don't want to have to bundle up the whole recording rig and drive out to a rental studio just to fix a couple of notes.
Maybe there's no one-size-fits-all. Perhaps the thing to do is to schedule around the not-quit-so-piercing instruments, and accept work-arounds for the louder instruments. Such as record (and practice) with e-violin and Silent Brass and make that work for me.
I just listened to several recordings taken through Yamaha's Silent Brass system, and it seems acceptable for where I am and what I currently want to do with trumpet. I was going to pick up a stonelined anyhow, and the changes to the sound of the trumpet of that straight mute are very similar to what the Silent Brass imposes.
And use e-violin for as many violin parts as I can get away with. My other strings are all acceptable; ukulele is quiet, guitar is sufficiently non-annoying, and the bass (actually ubass) plugs in (you can't even practice without plugging it in to something. I know. I've tried.)
Oh, and speaking of violin and lower strings; turns out the same technology that made the ubass possible has been leveraged on violins; two different companies make "octave" strings. Applied to a viola, they drop the instrument down to the exact same tuning as a cello. Obviously you don't have the same body resonance, but I've got a solid-body e-violin. So that's going to be the next life for my Cecilio; I'm going to restring it as a cello.
And that, too, goes straight into headphones and will not disturb the neighbors.