Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Opus 64 ( ♫ excerpt ♫ )
Dowland: The Earl of Essex's March ( ♫ excerpt ♫ )
Performed whistling is not a new idea, but its role has been rather limited. Ever since the days of music hall & vaudeville it has rarely ventured beyond imitating singing or birds, while appreciated chiefly in terms of novelty.
Finally in the 1990s, a few individuals began to coalesce around a different model — one based on the music community at large and how all instruments are approached. By adapting a similar attitude toward our own whistling, many have discovered much broader possibilities than ordinarily associated with whistling. This includes the repertoires of multiple instruments, of different cultures, of different centuries, new music for whistling, and different musical traditions. And with persistence, some have achieved convincing results (hear samples).
Add to this the fact that human whistling is costless, convenient to practice, and immediately accessible to every human being, and that is why we believe this idea of art-music-oriented-whistling, or artwhistling, is potentially useful for anyone interested in art music; even if used as only a secondary, tertiary, or quaternary musical skill.
We also believe that this way of approaching human whistling holds significant potential for the learning, performance, teaching, and spread of art music as a whole. Our Society (below) is currently the only international organisation for musicians interested in musical whistling.
Artwhistling is not simply a distinction between casual whistling and performed whistling. We believe that because people are diverse and have different interests, there is also more than one possible approach to performed whistling. We coined the term artwhistling to describe one such approach; specifically:
Artwhistling™ (or Pfeifkunst, not to be confused with Kunstpfeifen), derived from art-music-oriented-whistling, is human whistling based on the music-community-at-large and how all instruments are approached. Artwhistling therefore excludes what most musicians don’t do (such as theatrics, bird emulation, novelty, dancing, and other non-musical uses) and instead chooses musical value as the focus. As such, artwhistling looks to great music from all centuries, all instruments (including, but emphatically not limited to, the voice), all musical traditions, new music for artwhistling, and the musical potential offered by all whistling techniques. It also looks to standards of the music-community-at-large (as opposed to simply judging whistling by other whistling); developing common musical skills and knowledge (musicianship); and other concepts that all musicians share. This is not a premature comparison with better-established instruments, but simply an attempt to learn from their example. Nor does the term 'artwhistling' suggest ‘super-whistling’ or any particular level of proficiency. All instruments have beginners. It simply suggests a more accessible way to learn and enjoy great music, while working towards the same ideals of ‘art’ that are consistent with those of other musicians.
The International Artwhistling Philharmonic Society (Internationale Philharmonische Gesellschaft für Pfeifkunst) represents the first time that musicians have come together to formally explore the possibilities of performed whistling. As a philharmonic society, we were formed with the music community in mind – performers, students, and music educators, both good whistlers and bad – who think that the potential of this medium, common to all human beings, can and should be better explored and developed. Our Mission is thus (1) to explore the applications of human whistling in art music; (2) to work toward standards of whistling performance, education, and repertoire consistent with those of other instrumental traditions; and (3) to monitor and evaluate performed whistling throughout the globe in order to recognise and promote such standards. We were originally founded as the International Bach Society of Artwhistling in 2002.
© Copyright International Artwhistling Philharmonic Society (Internationale Philharmonische Gesellschaft für Pfeifkunst). All rights reserved.
The terms artwhistling™, artwhistler™, and all derivatives thereof are coined and trademarked by the International Artwhistling Philharmonic Society.