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on 1 June 2004
As a classically trained flute and recorder player, I've dabbled with irish music and the odd 'penny' whistle. But somehow it never quite sounded right. Now I know why! This book is outstanding, and should have been called 'The Complete Comprehensive Guide'. It covers all aspects of practicing and playing irish music on the flute and whistle, as well as a history of the music and comprehensive notes and transcriptions of tunes from the masters like Matt Molloy.
The section on ornamentation (the 'twiddly bits') covers 160 pages and is frankly astonishing. Every possible type of musical embellishment is detailed with examples, careful description and exercises, all accompanied by demonstrations on the accompanying CD. The CDs are a good example of the thought and attention to detail - some tracks contain a metronome to help you maintain the 'pulse'. This has been recorded on one stero channel whilst the flute plays in the other so you can adjust the balance between the two as you wish when practicing!
I paid £35 for this book in a London folk music shop and it was worth every penny. I have hardly put down my whistle since buying it. I can not recommend it highly enough for anyone serious about playing irish flute of whistle music.
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on 31 January 2009
I took up playing Irish folk music on the tin whistle about five years ago and have been playing in a local pub session ever since. This book has been a constant companion over all of that time, and I still refer to it regularly. It is one of very few books I own that I can't imagine being without.

The author has gone out of his way to think carefully about every aspect of playing both the tin whistle and the flute for Irish folk music, from the absolute beginner to at the very least 'advanced intermediate'.

To give an example at the beginner end of the spectrum; after playing only the tin whistle until very recently, I decided to try playing the flute. The books devotes two full pages on how to hold the irish flute properly and, trust me, it's well worth reading.

At the advanced end of the spectrum, the book has a whole chapter on each of the 'ornaments' that make irish whistle and flute music so compelling.

In summary, this book really does cover from the true beginner to the advanced player. It certainly is not a 'quick read' - but for anyone interested in adopting either flute or whistle as a passtime, this book is a must have.
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on 20 February 2011
It's the book. Now it's entirely true that anyone starting will do best to get some instruction from experienced players, watch them, listen to them live or on CD. Mr L does his best to explain exactly how to hold a flute, but it's a lot easier if someone shows you. So yes, maybe it isn't the ideal book for an absolute beginner.But since Matt Molloy is a busy man, Cathal McConnel otherwise engaged and Jeannie Madden lives in the States, and for all I know none of them give lessons, this is The Book. Because Mr L goes into alternatives, analyses apparently simple matters eg of embrouchure, dynamics and playing in tune - and then most creatively asks "what is "in tune" anyway?" It's also true that anyone who isn't a beginner will do best to watch, listen and listen some more; but great players are not necessarily best able, nor wish to, analyse how they do what they do. And there's always the risk of learning bad habits from mediocre players (e.g. me.) Mr L takes you through all the "ornamentation" (he's right, it's a lousy term)in huge detail. He writes most perceptively about timing and swing. He gives you piles of interesting stuff about players and styles, and the book with it accompanying CDs is also a storehouse of tunes, with recommendations for recordings of pieces he then transcribes and analyses for you. he goes on to -

Oh. I see. You're not that bothered anyway, just wanted a little tootle? No, it's not the book for you. But actually, it may not be the style of music for you either, because even if you've got grades on the flute,it takes a lot of dedicated practice, and it's a hell of a lot harder than it sounds. Or is that just me?
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2010
I first became aware of Grey Larsen through the 'Wooden Flute Obsession' CD of a few years back, and then discovered his 'tune packets' (a set of linked documents comprising a tune, some suggested variations and ornamentation, some history and a bit of discourse). The breadth and depth of knowledge he displays in the tune packets is present in abundance throughout this book.

This book really is an encyclopedia of information about the whistle and flute in the Irish tradition. Larsen's meticulous and analytical approach breaks down the individual components of playing the instruments and the music, giving the material for hours, days, years of study, practice and playing.

However he rarely if ever loses sight of the overall picture of the music - the detail is part of the whole, not an object for minute scrutiny for it's own sake.

The sheer weight of detail might, at first glance, appear overwhelming, but this really is an essential book for anyone who really cares about the whistle and / or flute and wants to learn more. My playing will definately improve as a result of studying this book, and you can't ask for more than that in a tutor.
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on 2 December 2013
*IF* the style and presentation suits you, this is a wonderful book.

Grey Larsen didn't absorb Irish music from the cradle, as he acknowledges, he came to it as an intelligent thoughtful musician and this gives him an advantage in presenting an incredibly detailed analysis. He is most certainly not the sort of talented player who will say, "this is how it goes" but can't explain what it is that you actually do!

*BUT* as noted in another review, you have to be someone who would be willing to learn from a two page explanation of how to hold the flute. This book does not cover the basics. You need to be a bit thoughtful and analytical. If you're impatient and instinctive, go elsewhere! The book is ideal for someone who has bought a flute or whistle, gone through one of the introductory books, or has learned a few tunes by ear, and then thinks, "OK but it doesn't sound quite right, how do I get better, what are the good players really doing..."

It's a big book! Must weigh about a kilo! There is an unbelievable amount of information here, yet it costs about the same as one lesson from a teacher. You may not wish to do everything Grey's way, but by the time you give what he says a fair try, you'll be well qualified to make your own decisions.

The best book on playing Irish traditional music that I've ever seen.
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on 8 June 2014
This is perhaps not an absolute beginner book, but as soon you can play a little it will be usefull to learn the proper ornamentations. Even when you are an accomplished player you can go to another playing level with this book. I am a fairly good recorder player for over 25 years. This book will show you the differences between both instruments.
The way for ornamentation notation is very practical and gives you a mean to notate your interpretation and to learn it. This is just helpful. I am aware that learning by ear is the best way to get the soul of irish music, and going to sessions and playing with other musicians is better, but living in belgium, you dont find sessions nor is it simple to find accomplished irish whistlers who can teach you the heart of irish music. Cds are wonderful but mostly that fast that you cant analyse what ornamentation they are playing, since i am not raised within irish music.
His other books with notated ornamentations are impressive to. 150 tunes for whistle and 150 tunes for irish flute.
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on 18 February 2006
Everything you ever wanted to know about playing the Irish flute and tin whistle. It's as if the author has poured several lifetimes of experience into the writing of this book. Carefully organised with everything from information on getting started, the pros and cons of various types of flutes and whistles, to playing technique and interpretation. The notation is clear and unambiguous without being overly fussy, and the accompanying CD provides useful audio illustration of key points. I particularly enjoyed his parallel notation of some tunes to help explain the use of variation within a melody. I'm a fiddle player myself, and found Larsen's in depth information on ornamentation and playing style invaluable. It's even inspired me to take up the whistle!
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on 29 September 2013
This is an excellent volume,thoroughly recommended, easy to read and follow for both instruments. It makes you want to play and try new ideas instantly so best to read when you have your whistle/fute to hand!! I may also add that prior to purchase on Amazon I had the pleasure of contacting Grey Larson through email and found him very approachable, quick in response and helpful.
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on 17 February 2015
Great book with lots of good tips to follow . As a classic flute player, I found this book very helpful and very enjoyable to learn how to play Irish music and how to make it sound right. Very happy with my purchase and would recommend it to everyone who plays or who wants to learn how to play Irish music on flute - plenty to learn from .
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on 29 May 2014
This book must be an inch thick!
A lot of info and examples and I haven't even got to the CDs yet, will take a while to digest everything,
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