Live in Pasadena: Masters of Musical Whistling

Exhales and lips work in concert to create melodies.

It's a most unusual day when audience members walk into an auditorium carrying the very same instruments that will soon be seen on stage. 

After all, you don't see concert goers hauling harps nor drum kits to their various seats, but audience members do show with the instrument of the day when the day deals with a certain tone made by the mouth. We speak of whistling, and the mouth-and-throat-based mechanics needed to play this particular instrument are part and parcel of being a human being.

Even if your own personal exhale + mouth/tongue/teeth/cheek combo produces little in the way of sound, you can admire The Masters of Musical Whistling on Saturday, July 11 when they and their tone-sweet prowess take centerstage in Pasadena. 

The place? The Ahiah Center. On the stage? Wonderful whistling artists aplenty. Behind the stage? Producer Carole Anne Kaufman, the Whistling Entertainer of the Year for 2012 (and a two-time world champion). The vibe? Performers will whistle with "recorded back tracks" during the early competition and in an "all-live music whistling concert accompanied by a four-piece band" later in the day.

Whistling has been around since people have been around, of course; it is considered "the first musical instrument." And while it is still heard and seen today with many performers -- singer Andrew Bird has taken on-stage whistling to melodic heights in his songs -- it is an art form that has a lot of nostalgia attached.

You remember tunes from when you were a kid that employed whistles as a main vocal component, like theme to "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Give a Little Whistle" from "Pinocchio" and Otis Redding's sublime "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay." You may have even tried to whistle along, in the car or the shower.

So, can you whistle nowadays? What has to be the best-known whistle-themed quote of all time says it all on this matter, of course. Lauren Bacall famously advises Humphrey Bogart in 1944's "To Have and Have Not" that "you just put your lips together and blow." 

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Of course, time, talent, practice, and skill are crucial components to creating a master of the form. Is it all in the shape of the lips, the tongue, or the strength of the exhale?

Such an ancient art form, such the challenge to perfect, and so very easy to start. Perhaps The Masters of Musical Whistling will be your purse-your-lips inspiration on the ride home.

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