Jean Duval

Jean Duval & Golo Goerner

Rachel Aucoin

Philippe Longval

Dorothy Hogan

Joanne St-Laurent

Jean Duval, a versatile traditional musician and well-respected composer, produced a CD of his 12 suites in traditional style for one-handed tin whistle in 2004.

Is this a joke?

No, not at all. Jean has really composed 12 suites of tunes that can all be played on an ordinary six-holed tin whistle : 41 pieces, 11 different key signatures, 60 minutes' total duration. The result is music that is very enjoyable to listen to, and a nice challenge for whistle players seeking to widen their repertory, develop their technique - or astound their audiences.

What on earth made Jean compose these suites? You can read what he has written on the subject below, but first listen to two of the suites in mp3 format:

Sound clips

Suite no. 5 in B minor – La Néo-trad Air - Jig - Reel (3:56) (1.4MB)
Suite no. 9 in D major – La Magnymontoise Waltz - Jig - Galop (3:31) (1.25MB)

Composer's note

I composed these suites ... as a challenge, to see whether I could make tunes that could be played on an ordinary six-hole tin whistle using only one hand in a variety of modes and keys. The styles of the suites are all inspired by traditional music, mostly Irish, Scottish and Québécois. In form and spirit, they resemble some works of the baroque period. That is why I have numbered them and given them old-fashioned titles.

I dedicate all these suites to Packie Manus Byrne, storyteller, singer and whistle player from Donegal, Ireland. Packie's composition "The Swamp Reed March," which can be played with one hand, provided the initial inspiration for this project, along with his liking for sets made up of slow airs and dance tunes with melodic similarities.      Jean Duval, November 2004

The suites

Here is a list of the 12 suites:
No. 1 in F# minor – La Peverilienne
No. 2 in G major – L'Hibernienne de l'est
No. 3 in A Myxolydian – L'Erse
No. 4 in A minor – L'Hibernienne de l'ouest
No. 5 in B minor – La Néo-trad
No. 6 in C major – La Belle époque
No. 7 in C major – La Calédonienne
No. 8 in D Myxolydian – La Miltownienne
No. 9 in D major – La Magnymontoise
No. 10 in B minor – La Bretonne
No. 11 in F major – L'Outaouaise
No. 12 in F # major Phrygian – La Transylvaine

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Where to buy

You can buy the CD and/or the sheet music at the following points of sale:

Directly from the composer (if you are in Canada or the United States).
Contact Jean at the email address at the foot of this page.

CD-Baby (on-line distribution of independently produced CDs)
CD only:

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The musicians

On the CD Jean plays a D whistle in boxwood made by Jean-François Beaudin in 1986. In suite no. 11 and in the "answering" sections in suite no. 10, he uses another whistle in boxwood by the same maker. He is accompanied by the following musicians:

Recording was engineered by Reinhard Goerner at Goerner Communications in 2003 and 2004.


Some whistle players include numbers in their stage performances that feature whistles played with one hand, or two whistles at once - notable examples being Cathal McConnell and Packie Manus Byrne. Although Jean acknowledges the inspiration of the latter, in composing these suites he has taken the concept much farther than anyone in the entire history of whistle playing.

In classical music, there exists a sizeable repertory for one-handed piano, the concertos for orchestra and left hand by Ravel, Prokofiev and Britten being notable examples. (By the way, it is worth pointing out that these composers didn't have to deal with the major constraint faced by Jean in writing for one-handed whistle - the absence of two consecutive whole notes.)

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Biographical note

I was born in Montréal in 1961. I have been passionately interested in traditional Québécois and Celtic music since my adolescence, and play the wooden flute, whistle, fiddle and harmonica.

I started composing pieces in traditional style when I moved to the country southwest of Montreal over 20 years ago. Some of my tunes have become very popular and can be heard at sessions, while others have been recorded by musicians in Canada, the US and Ireland. In 2002 I published a collection of 224 of my compositions, "The Peveril Collection". (For more information on this book, contact me by e-mail using the link below.)

I was a founder member of Phenigma, a band that won favour among audiences and critics alike, with whom I made a CD in 1995. I love playing for traditional dancing and do so often. In 2000 I was musical director of "From Galway to Grosse Isle", a show by the Celtic Grace traditional dance ensemble directed by Bernadette Short.

I co-authored a compilation of Irish music, A Dossan of Heather, published by Mel Bay in 2000. This is the repertoire of Packie Manus Byrne, a singer, whistle player and storyteller from Donegal.

Jean Duval


You can

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This page was put up for Jean by Steve Jones, with help from Brad Hurley. The graphical elements are based on the work done for the CD liner by Mélanie Bériault of Infografilm.