‘I remember whistling along as my father played his fiddle’

Apr 29, 2018
Andris remembers whistling while his father played the violin. Source: Pixabay

Did I already whistle in the womb? Unlikely! But as far back as I can remember, I have always been whistling. It has been my most precious and heart opening companion since early childhood.

There is something intrinsically frustrating about mentality, the realm of words. They cannot capture reality. Reality is full of feelings and nuances which the language of music can express much more fully than prose: The beat and melody of life. They are the clues to the tragicomedy of existence.

Whenever I focus my attention on my mood, or rather stop being totally preoccupied with doing and pay attention to being, some sort of melody always surfaces in my ears. It is not premeditated. It just pops up from the unconscious. Yet every time it happens it catches me by surprise: ‘Yes this is exactly what my mood is about’– I exclaim without words. The music reveals my mood.

For example, as I am writing, I am hearing the music and words of Paul Anka’s ‘You-are-my-destiny!’ in my mind. Yes, lately and right now the issue of my ‘destiny’ has been very much on my mind. Instead of talking about it, the music allows me to experience my destiny directly. As soon as I hear the music within, I begin to express it through whistling the melody. This tunes me up!

Whistling connects my mind with my heart, soul and gut feelings. My mind, in the word or idea of ‘destiny’, my heart in that I feel my destiny, my soul, in that my destiny drives me. It surfaces from my gut feelings. My whistling is enabled by my breath coming from the depth of my abdomen powered by my diaphragm.

I am so grateful that I can whistle. Every Wednesday night when I play music in a pub, I also whistle as much as I sing.

Whistling has always been my instantaneous musical instrument, like a fiddle that can play any tune with feelings, without any rehearsal, totally spontaneously. Any time, any tune touches me, I enter it, I experience it, I make it my own through whistling.

I have no idea how and why I started to whistle as it happened so very far back. But one thing I do know. Perhaps the most outstanding memory from my childhood is whistling along my virtuoso violinist father, pretending that I was the second violinist. I wrote about those heart-warming experiences in my poems: ‘God’s Fiddler’ and ‘A Sacred Time’. Specifically, I said in ‘God’s Fiddler’:

‘The bow is dancing, the fiddle wails through the score
And I whistle with the strings like a troubadour’… and:

‘Soars the fiddle and my whistle blends with its sound:
Gone Father and Son; just the Holy Spirit is around!’

And I finish that poem with:

‘Then my father died and his fiddle vanished,
Until from above I heard the sound I cherished.
My whistle goes out to him and he is waiving too
And he begins the tune for angels to woo
And once again we hum the Gypsy Ode:
Father and the son, who lived on Rákóczi Road!’

But my other poem: ‘Sacred Time’ is entirely about my childhood experience in Hungary, whistling along my father on the violin. So here it is:

‘Sacred Time’

Father, you are a fiddle!
But I am a whistle!
Did I play second fiddle to you?
No! Now I know this isn’t true:

Through my whistle I was your fiddle.
Dad you played me, only with me!
Through your fiddle, you were all mine,
It was our precious, sacred time!

I whistled and you conducted.
My lips and your strings contracted!
We blended together, you and I,
When fiddle and whistle let fly!

Since you have gone I tried and tried, I tried to revive our ecstasy.
But can anything, can anyone match a childhood fantasy?
… Maybe something can: sweet memory!

Do you know how to whistle?

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