Whistling

From Academic Kids

Whistling is the production of sound by means of a constant breath of air from the mouth. The air is moderated by the tongue, lips, or fingers to create turbulence, and the mouth acts as a resonant chamber to enhance the resulting sound. Whistling can also be produced using an instrument (see whistle), some as simple as a blade of grass.

Non-instrumental whistling from the mouth can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Pucker whistling, in which the air is expelled through pursed lips, producing turbulence
  • Roof or palatal whistling, in which the turbulence is produced by air being pushed between the tongue and the roof (palate or alveolar ridge) of the mouth
  • Finger whistling or wolf-whistling, in which one or more fingers are inserted into the mouth to shape the opening, allowing a much more forceful stream of air to be blown through
  • Hand whistling, in which air is blown from the mouth into a resonant chamber formed by cupped hands

A whistled tone is a simple oscillation (or sine wave) produced in the resonant chamber, and thus timbral variations are impossible. The pitch of a whistle can be altered by changing the shape of the resonant chamber (most typically by using the tongue).

Some languages and code languages use whistles as a part of their communication; this is referred to as whistled speech.

Musical whistling

Whistling can be musical: many performers on the Music Hall and Vaudeville circuits were professional whistlers, and several notable songs feature whistling in some capacity:

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