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13 October 2010


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Yes, the coolness factor is undoubtedly a reason for the decline of whistling.

I forgot to mention one of my all-time whistling favourites, The Whistling Monologue, by the great comic Norfolk folk pastiche act, the Kipper Family. It's a very funny wordless (and tuneless) parody of the kinds of novelty monologues which used to be a part of music hall and 78rpm culture.

Ian Rawes

Hi Tom,

I didn't claim music had become less tuneful over time, just that popular music has tended to become less easily whistled. As a general trend over the last 60 years rhythm has moved to the fore and melody has moved back. Who would now launch a publication with the title 'Melody Maker'?

There probably is some element of social acceptability at work, but it will be a generational effect with whistling seen as a something uncool to do, strictly for granddads. Otherwise I doubt people are whistling less because they fear the disapproval of society at large.

There is one exception: the wolf whistle aimed at women. Not only do many people now regard it as a crass thing to do, but some building firms also ban that behaviour. Wimpey imposed a ban in 2008 on the grounds that it put off house-buyers.


Hi Ian and fellow web folk,

While there aren't many books about whistling (primary only "how to" books and pamphlets), there are some other fine resources for whistling related information.

The most important resource for whistling enthusiasts is the Annual International Whistlers Convention. The 35th Convention was hosted by The Japan Whistlers' Federation and the 37th annual convention was held in Qingdao China. Next year's event - The 38th Annual International Whistlers Convention, will be back home in its birthplace - Louisburg, Virginia USA on April 7,8,9+10, 2011. Information about the upcoming convention will be posted at http://www.whistlingiwc.com/.

Another wonderful resource for anyone interested in whistling is the OraWhistle Listserv - A Global Whistlers Forum. "The Orawhistle Whistling forum has an archive with over 14,000 message posts. We currently have over 900 members from more than 40 nations, 35 American states, and 8 Canadian provinces." Orawhistle can be found at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Orawhistle/.

There are two movies about whistling available on the internet. One, "Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling" is a 78 minute documentary filmed at and around the 31st Annual International Whistlers Convention. The film can be purchased through most online bookstores and viewed via through Blockbuster, Netflix, etc. The Wacky World of Whistling is a quirky 3 minute video that runs through some of whistling's history, its uses, some myths and beliefs, etc. It can be viewed on TVGuide.com and CurrentTV.com. A slightly more informative (7 minute) version of the documentary can be found at: https://audience.withoutabox.com/films/whistler -.

Thank you for discussing whistling on the Sound Recordings Blog.


P.s. if anyone feels like cheating on the TeaBreak Teaser - just let me know and I'll send you a pretty good list of pop songs featuring whistling.



Colonel Bogey March. - Don't worry, be happy. - Always look on the bright side. - er zzzzzz


I would have thought that the apparent decline in whistling has more to do with social acceptability than how whistlable modern pop songs are. Whistling is often seen as an anti-social habit, marginally more acceptable than playing music on a phone at the back of the bus. The idea that "new fangled music isn't as tuneful as in my day" goes back a long way, much like the idea that "the youth of today have no respect for their elders" - people have been saying that as long as there have been young people.

Some old tunes are very tricky to whistle - my favourite example being Nola by Felix Arndt, which can be heard whistled in a fabulously quirky old film called Multiple Sidosis (it's on Youtube).

As for pop whistling, there are classic whistling tunes such as I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman, and Winchester Cathedral, and nowadays the ubiquitous Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John, which is on just about every advert on radio and TV and which most people would recognise even if they don't know the name of the song.

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