From Joanie Madden of Cherish the Ladies- World Champion on the Flute and Whistle, All Ireland Senior Champion on the whistle and in my opinion, the first Lady of Irish Music.
"Mike Burke is one of the best whistle makers in the world!"
From Dale Wisely of the Chiff and Fipple
As the Undisputed King of Internet Tinwhistle Journalism, I am blessed to own many, many whistles, including whistles from almost all makers. When I played my first Burke, I fell in love after about five seconds. Since that time, I have actively collected Mike's whistles and own more of these, in the widest range of keys, than any other line of whistles. I have recommended them to countless people, given them away to economically-challenged musician friends, and logged more time playing them than any from the Chiff & Fipple Secure Whistle Storage facility outside of Provo, Utah. Whistles don't get better than this.
From Shannon Heaton of Suicra and Matt and Shannon Heaton
CD available on our website: Oil for the Chain
What a joy it is to play Burke whistles! They are lightweight and comfortable to play, they have a clean and sweet sound, and they blend nicely with other instruments. (And on an exceedingly practical note, they don't clog up with spit in the middle of a set of tunes.) Thank you, Michael, for making instruments with care. And thank you for your work of connecting and supporting the strong whistle community in the States.
Author: Pat D'Arcy on the B Natural Aluminum
The perfect whistle to use as an alternative to an E. Also the perfect whistle to use to play along with a piper on a B set... the blend is truly beautiful.
From L.E. McCullough- Tin whistle legend- composer, playwright, author
On DASBT Aluminum Session whistle:
* * * *
It is possible there are some people yet roaming about in our world who think the tinwhistle is a small, insignficant thing. Something of little consequence or value in the larger scheme of life.
They are wrong. And having the right tinwhistle for the right occasion is no trifling matter. Sometimes the right tinwhistle can save your sanity. And be a bonafide Public Boon.
Earlier this month I was about to perform at an outdoor festival in a small Pennsylvania town, both to remain un-named here. The scene was dismal: meager, passive crowd, bad food, rain on the darkening horizon, a score of small children running amok in front of the stage screaming and pounding each other with large rubber mallets distributed by some mischievous vendor as some sort of "heritage" artifact.
Then it got worse. The show was running late, so of necessity the soundcheck was abrupt, hurried and cursory, monitors simultaneously howling and groaning in both treble and bass registers. As I attempted to let the soundman know of the state of the sound, he suddenly waved his arms, pointed his fingers at me with a bang-bang pistol gesture, and shouted across the field to "Stop!" and shut up -- the implication being that any more communication from musicians onstage would incur even worse sound.
Whatever. After three-and-a-half decades of playing music to live audiences in all sorts of venues, you become inured to the minor indignities of the
trade. You're getting paid, you're providing a service, just do the show, entertain the audience, pretend everything's groovy, smile, make your exit, don't take
anything personally, no matter how insulting or absurd. But being ordered silent in front of a live audience by a stupendously incompetent soundman (who
allegedly taught Audio Science at a local institution of higher learning). . . Wow. That was a first in this musician's professional career.
I'd like to report that, as the performance got underway, te sound system improved. Nope. Got worse. Crowd? Got worse. There wasn't anything to do but just gut it out and play, using time-tested Zen mind-control techniques of projecting oneself somewhere very far away. As it came time for my entrance into the first medley, I picked up the new whistle I'd received recently from Michael Burke, a bright, shining aluminum D. I had planned to give it an official Onstage Premiere with a bit of hoopla that night, maybe a champagne or Guinness toast, but now the moment seemed vastly less auspicious. Still, it's showtime, just play.
Within seconds I knew this tinwhistle was going to save my sanity that night and, possibly, my life. The sound cut through the humid, globby air with the
clarity of a silver bell ringing across an Alpine mountain valley. Within a minute of playing the Burke aluminum D, I felt certain I was going to make some
great music that set, ambient horrorshow and sound trolls be damned.
From the very first phrase, it sang out strong and impeccably in tune. Curiously, though the overall band sound inflicted upon the audience was dreadful, the five of us playing onstage could hear each other fairly well, the effect like that of playing in a metallic storage bin. . . the rest of the obnoxious world beyond the footlights mercifully vanished, and we heard only ourselves.
The whistle was light, easy to grip, with the weight well-balanced along the entire tube, not top-heavy or over-bulked. It fingered effortlessly -- each roll easily executed, crisply cut and cleanly nuanced, every slide smooth and true. The timbre had good full body, no rasp, no dropout. . . it soared into the upper octave. . . reaching for the high B, the note sounded instantly without hesitation or resistance. The C natural, sheer ecstasy, and the C# and 3rd-octave D were solid as well. This whistle was a thing of sweetness and beauty, sturdy yet agile. Notes were leaping out of my fingers, dancing off my tongue with elfin glee. . .
But now we were headed for the treacherous falls.
The final test for me on any whistle is the top D roll. . . could I get a clean roll, and how much effort would it take to get it? Sometimes the mental energy in setting for the ornament, visualizing it, so to speak, is more taxing than the actual fingering. The tune was "Toss the Feathers" in D modal. . . on the B part, 1st measure,
I hit the top D roll three times (A~d3 A~d3 | A~d3 e~d3). . . It purred. Clicked like tumblers in a safe lock, everything snapping into place.
Then I defied both Nature and Reason. In the split-second between the last note of the eighth bar 1st-time through -- no, maybe even as I played the first note of the repeat -- some rebellious seed entered my conscious mind, and I played: A~d3 ~d2~d2 | ~d2~d2 ~d2cd | . . . five short rolls exploding out of the whistle with staccato ferocity.
It was surreal. Every part of the phrase concisely articulated, every element as perfectly edged as a cut diamond. . . a melodic passage I hadn't even thought to play until it willed itself into existence like some lurking doppelganger waiting its chance to burst forth from the unconscious. I wondered: could another whistle have had the same ability to summon this music forth at such a time in such a manner?
I can't remember much about the rest of the night. The sound system kept sucking, the audience kept dwindling, the children kept rampaging. . . I was oblivious, floating above the mortal fray, lost in this new Burke aluminum D, enveloped in its blissful purity of sweep, its elegant swift carriage of lightness and power.
I have been asked if I endorse this tinwhistle. Yea, verily, I surrender to it!
From L.E. McCullough- Tin whistle legend- composer, playwright, author:
Can we take a quick poll? I don't want to be the one to change centuries of Irish musical tradition, but how many would be in favor of moving standard pitch down so that the cherished bottom D cran is actually a B?That's right, just make the B natural below middle C the new bottom D on a whistle, thereby shifting pitch and fingering for several tens of thousands of airs, dance tunes, ballads. Would that be too much of an inconvenience for the global mass of ceoltoiri?
This modest proposal rises from a totally selfish motive. . . my most favorite tinwhistle for the last few years has been a B Natural Composite made by Michael Burke. The official brochure description of "mellow and smooth and ultralight weight in black Bakelite Composite" hardly suffices to convey how satisfying this whistle is to play and to hear.
It is indeed lightweight but with a strong, solid timbre with a sort of inherent resonance, especially in the bottom D (B, actually). No, I don't know what "inherent resonance" is, but it's the only thing I can think of to describe the fullness of sound that dwells somewhere between the standard wooden whistle and a wooden flute. The Burke B Natural Composite projects a tonal quality all its own. It sings, nicely.
And when you hit the upper octave, it's smooth and even more rich, with an extremely powerful, achingly pure high C natural that just wails
when you slide into it.
If Irish music were pitched a minor third lower, I could play it a lot more than I do.
Anyone want to start a revolution? Or at least a whistle flash mob? Round up a couple dozen players armed with Burke B naturals and we'll meet at random sessions, take them over and change the course of musical history.
Is ar mhaithe leis fein a dheineann an cat cronan. It's for his own benefit the cat purrs.
- L.E. McCullough