There are reports scattered about this 21st Century that nobody’s puckering up like they used to; no silly we’re not talking about kissin’.

Nor is there an issue about which cousin you should or should’ve not married.

Of course, a lack of this has delivered our fairer sex and us guys from a long practice that’s no longer politically-sociologically correct.

And yet, there are those who wish it weren’t so that there were still those who could vocally express their admiration of a well shaped booty.

There are many of us who easily remember the theme music from Fox Television’s X-Files but who among us can recall “Dr. Horatio Q Birdbath”?

Yep and who of us has not envied Cousin Jessie who had that durned ol cockatiel who knew every note from “The Bridge Over The River Kwai” and rubbing it in, could fill in for Sleepy and Dopey as well.

One icon of our vanishing breed of male chauvinistic pigs, hard-hatted unshaved construction types lounging around on 8’ construction grade studs, has vanished from the Boob Tube only to be replaced by clones wearing a chapeau drawn from the logo of a fast food chain.

Making a whistling sound might be as easy as Lauren Bacall suggested in “To Have And To Have Not” when she told Humphrey Bogart “you just put your lips together and blow.” But artistic musical whistling isn’t quite that simple.

Whistling has played an important role in music throughout history. Nearly every form of music has been touched by the earliest musical instrument of all. During the Big Band era many bands had a whistler who would step up and take a solo.

Good examples of this are Fred Lowery who whistled with the Vincent Lopez Orchestra and Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights, Elmo Tanner who performed with the Ted Weems Orchestra and Muzzy Marcellino who whistled with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.
Jazz has enjoyed the presence of several great whistlers such as Ron McCroby, Joel Brandon, and Frank Bonafazi, a currently active jazz whistler. Rock and Roll has had numerous songs which used whistling. Some of the more memorable are “Blackbird” by The Beatles, “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band, and “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.

 Folk, rap, classical and many other styles have seen fit to implement “the original musical instrument” and often to great success.

 Regardless, whistling remains a controversial instrument. It seems people either love it or hate it. Because whistling is the most convenient of instruments it is played more than any other.

Sometimes whistling’s a victim of this art’s own convenience. One example of this is the “office whistler” who, for the sake of his/her owns enjoyment forces others to listen, often while they are trying to concentrate elsewhere. 

 For many people, listening to a whistling performance is hearing whistling anew. That’s because most whistling is personal and private; we usually whistle for ourselves in our own time and place, in our own way. We whistle to entertain, amuse, distract, talk to or declare ourselves.

 Melodic whistling was popular throughout the 20th century, but whistling sounds were first used not as music but as language. Ancient hunters and warriors whistled signals and complex whistled languages existed in many parts of the world.

At the turn of the last century, vaudeville shows in America and music-hall revues in Europe and elsewhere often included musical whistlers and bird imitators. “Listen To The Mockingbird” was a perennial favorite.

American whistler Alice Shaw, Australian Albert Whelan and German-born Guido Gialdini were well-known to U.S. and European audiences in the early 1900s. Many whistlers were also featured on early recordings, notably finger-whistler Sibyl Sanderson Fagan.

But early on there was a reluctance to accept whistling in so-called serious music circles– an attitude that still exists.

The jacket of an early Edison recording of “Melody in F” by Rubinstein said : “Whistling is not usually regarded as real music…” And notes for a recording of Sibyl Sanderson Fagan’s “Serenata” by Moszkowski and “Narcissus” by Nevin said: “Probably their distinguished composers never expected them to be used in this fashion.”

However there are the musical antics of a Sacramento CA man, one Sam Maloof, owner of that city’s NBA franchise, whose two-fingered whistle has been reported to nearly shatter the arena rafters and alter the trajectory of a ball heading toward the basket.

But musical whistling has endured. These are just a few memorable notes in the last hundred years of whistling.
In the 1920s and 1930s radio and talking pictures were ideal new outlets for whistling. Al Jolson put two fingers in his mouth and whistled “Toot-Toot-Tootsie” in “The Jazz Singer” in 1927. Fred Lowery went on the air in Dallas.

Snow White whistled while she worked and the seven dwarfs whistled while they commuted by foot. What did they trill? Why it was “Whistle Why We Work”

In the 1940s Fred Lowery sold a million recordings of “Indian Love Call” and Elmo Tanner’s “Heartaches” was also a hit. Both were popular big-band soloists and influenced generations of future whistlers.

The largest gathering of whistlers to perform simultaneously was at the 1948 national gymnastics festival in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when 16,000 boys did a piece of music written especially for whistling. For years afterward, Czechs whistled this music in defiance of the political repression in their country.

Whistling permeated popular American culture in the 1950s. The whistled theme of the movie “The High and the Mighty” won the 1954 Oscar. Don Robertson’s “The Happy Whistler” was a top record in 1956 and there was whistling in other hits such as Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” and Guy Mitchell’s “You’ve Got Me Singing The Blues”.

In the 1960s everybody whistled along with the theme of the Andy Griffith television show, and in the movies Muzzy Marcellino did the haunting title song of “The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly.”

 Virtuoso Roger Whittaker, the best-known whistler in the world today, recorded “Mexican Whistler” in the 1970s, boosting the popularity and credibility of melodic whistling. In 1977 Swedish whistler Jan Linblad recorded an album which included ” Regnet Det Bara Oser Ner” (“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”)

Woodstock the cartoon bird puckered and whistled “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Puccini in a Peanuts TV special in 1980; Jason Serinus was the real whistler.

 In 1982 Ron McCroby blew cool at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Simon Argevitch whistled a song with 17 (count’ em) cigars in his mouth — a record no one can (or wants to) beat.

In 1989 rocker Axl Rose of Guns & Roses whistled “A Little Patience” in a surprisingly sweet style, and Lauren Bacall said in a commercial: “What makes a woman unforgettable? Knowing how to whistle.”

In the 1990s Harry Nillson did a fine swinging version of “How ’bout You” in the movie “The Fisher King” and Garth whistled the Star Trek them in “Wayne’s World.” Jolson’s “Toot-Toot-Tootsie” returned to the big screen in Woody Allen’s “Bullets over Broadway.”
Kuchibue doesn’t mean “kitchy Koo” I see you” or it’s tickle time since this is the word for whistling in Japanese. When you see this word in a Norwegian newspaper, “plystring,” it does not mean an advert for a remodeling contractor unless that person “whistles” while he works.

In the Canary Islands, Silbo Gomero is a language that’s whistled, not spoken.

Europeans and South Americans whistle to display their displeasure at concerts and sporting events..  For the superstitious sort, whistling’s bad luck in the newsroom, aboard ship, in the coal mine and in the theatre.

For many people, listening to a whistling performance is hearing whistling anew. This is because most whistling is personal and private; we usually whistle for ourselves in our own time and place, in our own way. We whistle to entertain, amuse, distract, talk to or declare ourselves.

Do as Snow White did: “Put on that grin and start right in to whistle loud and long.”

“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those who sang best”
                                                                                                 – John Audubon





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