Tony Hinnigan is a man in demand for his musical talent... An accomplished cellist, he is also a renowned expert on indigenous Andean wind instruments amongst his plethora of talents. Since 1985, he's been sought by a host of heavyweight film soundtrack composers such as James Horner, Michael Nyman, John Williams and Ennio Morricone for his versatility in style and expertise. It was his penny whistle that accompanied Celine Dion on her massive hit single, My Heart Will Go On, from the blockbuster film, Titanic. His panpipes were the backbone of the haunting and evocative sound from The Mission and his soulful flute and whistle melodies stirred the senses in the action-packed Braveheart, just to name a few.
The first whistle I ever played was a Generation D. It was all there was then, and you just made them work (which, by and large, they did). I would still play one if the occasion demanded but nowadays tend to play other makes. In truth it doesn't matter who made your whistle, so long as it does what you want it to. My normal whistles of choice nowadays (for C, D, E flat, F) are Chris Abells because they record so beautifully but, at times, I've used a Kerry D or a Susato D or E flat or a Harper D or C, depending on the sound required or, to put it more simply, whatever sounds best in the track(!) That's the bottom line.
Recently, on a film score, I had to play a line in unison with the violin section and it could only be done on an F Sharp. I had a Kerry in my case, so tried that. It sounded good, but then Eric Rigler, who was also on the gig, said "I thought I had to play that line so I had Michael Burke send me this composite F Sharp. Want to try it?" I did, and it blended better with the violins. Nothing wrong with either whistle - you simply use whatever works best for that particular moment. Horses for courses. (When the sessions were over I traded Eric a spare Low A for his composite!)
There is a bewildering array of "Low" whistles on the market ever since Bernard Overton invented them, and each player will find the instrument he likes (as in, one Sax player uses Selmer whilst the next guy prefers Yamaha etc. etc.). I tend to stick to Kerry and Chieftain, simply because Phil Hardy made them for me in every key known to mankind, (and a few yet to be discovered), to play on the "Titanic" score, and I've grown accustomed to them. Also, in terms of metal whistles, I've never come across anything better. If you stumble upon one of his brass ones for sale, (he doesn't make them anymore) grab it!! Some people use plastic whistles but I've rarely found a use for them. Wooden whistles - now that's another story. Phil Hardy has a couple of low whistles by Jonathan Swayne. Wish I did.
A brief history of the world, with particular reference to the popular musical combo "Incantation".
The band started in 1981 from a pool of musicians who were, at the time, playing all kinds of different types of music for the (then) Ballet Rambert, based in London. A new ballet was choreographed (called "Ghost Dances" ) about political oppression in South America, to the music of Inti-Illimani, the exiled Chilean folk group.
The company preferred to use live musicians (rather than tapes) for performances, so volunteers were sought and "yours truly" and five others put up our hands. We listened to the Inti-Illimani tracks (and were blown away) and instruments were procured from Nicolas Perez Gonzales of "Los Calchakis"...
..They arrived three weeks before the first performance and we took them out of the crate, tried to figure out which way up they went, and got on with the business of learning to play them. (special shout to Simon Rogers, who unravelled the complexities of the charango in record time).
The show was a hit and before long the "band" was offered a record contract. We had to call ourselves something so played around with the word "Inca". Having rejected "Stinca" (!?!), we settled on "Incantation".
We had a surprise hit single with a track called "Cacharpaya" but the vibe was always to take a musical journey and record albums of whatever happened. We made three albums for Beggars Banquet in the UK, including the 3rd (duh!) which was half recorded in Bolivia and Peru and spawned a TV documentary.
The band line-up subsequently changed on an almost regular basis with the stable (?!?!?!) elements being myself and Mike Taylor, and we continued to record for various people and tour several times a year. Nothing if not character-building!
Film work began to creep in and the album thing was sidelined. It could, however, (the album thing), burst unexpectedly through the barn door in the foreseeable future. Don't panic and no need to lock up your daughters.
View a selection of pictures covering Tony's career
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