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Why Do Ceiling Fans Cause Tremolo In Free Reeds?

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Now if I could figure out why when I'm on me porch with a medium breeze blowing my penny whistle cranks right along, but if I switch to my low D whistle it's hard to get a note out at all.

Two likely factors:

.. 1) It's a general principle with wind instruments that production of lower notes involves a greater volume of air flow, but less pressure. Wind pressure being constant, it would then have a proportionally greater effect on lower notes.

.. 2) But a smaller windway also tends to work at lower pressure, so if the mouthpiece on your low-D is proportionately narrower than on your high-D, that will have a similar effect. (E.g., my large-windway Copelands -- both high-D and low-D -- are more resistant to such wind effects than my high-D Generation, but the high-D Copeland is more resistant than the low-D.)

.. 3) Not a third factor, but 1+2. Combining the two effects is, of course more effective than either one alone.


One way to escape the effect of the wind, by the way, is to turn your back to it. ;)

It also depends on the way the whistle is constructed. Jim's low D Copeland, for instance, very likely has a bit of a wall built up around the windway. Michael Copeland developed this to stabilize the tone of the lower notes, but it also helps with resisting a good stiff breeze. I don't think he usually puts this feature on the high whistles, though, so this isn't fully supported by Jim's statement that the high D is more wind resistant than the low D. Must be many factors involved. I actually know of one guy who reviews whistles on his website, and he always includes a comment about how well it does in the wind.




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Steven, my low D whistle is a Ralph Cook. It has a little wall around the windway as well. Beautiful tone, tuneable and I love that black color. Good sized mouthpiece. The breeze just gives it hell. My old oak high D just doesn't seem to be affected at all.


The breath support for the low D is something else! Tried the back to the wind thing with limited results. Ah well, it's only a diversion from my Tina anyhoo.

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What is different about concertinas is that the reed vibration which generates the sound depends on the difference in air pressure between the inside and outside of the instrument.

Here's a thought: a concertina requires so very little pressure to make a note. So then, a wobble in the atmospheric pressure would be significant compared to the pressure difference across the reed, and so have a more audible effect on the sound.


Meanwhile, bagpipes require hella pressure to make the reed sound. If you ever tried to use a mouth-blown practice chanter, you'd know that it's not fun being a bag. That would mean that a wobble in the air doesn't make as big a difference to the reed.


Maybe the reason you hear different amounts of wonkiness from accordions and concertinas is that the pressure in a button accordion is higher? Also, here's a simple test: try playing loud under a ceiling fan. Does the effect diminish?



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