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Q: Whistling and Warbling ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Whistling and Warbling
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: whistlingwhistler-ga
List Price: $2.50
Posted: 22 Sep 2006 13:42 PDT
Expires: 22 Oct 2006 13:42 PDT
Question ID: 767650
What is the difference between whistling and warbling?

Request for Question Clarification by sublime1-ga on 22 Sep 2006 14:54 PDT
As far as I can tell, with the exception of yodelling, only
birds warble, while humans whistle.

Do you have a different perspective that would shed light on
your question?
Subject: Re: Whistling and Warbling
Answered By: kriswrite-ga on 22 Sep 2006 21:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello whistlingwhistler~

In terms of sounds produced by humans, whistling is created by a force
of air pushed through the lips, which are in a puckered ("kiss me")
position. The sound of the whistle can change according to what the
tongue and lips are doing, the shape of the soft palate in the mouth,
and the position of the larynx. (See "How to Whistle" at )

Warbling, on the other hand, refers to an effect in singing. Although
some people use the word "warble" as a synonym for "vibrato," the two
are not the same. Vibrato refers to the natural pulses and *slight*
changes in pitch that occur when a person is singing in a healthy,
natural manner.

On the other hand, a warble is an unnatural and dramatic change in
pitch when a singer holds a note. Warbling is the result of unhealthy
singing; more specifically, it's the result of excess tension in the
throat. Warbling is also sometimes referred to as a "wobble." (See
"How Can I Learn to Sing with Vibrato?," five questions down this
page: and
also "The Vocal "Wobble:" )

I hope this clarifies the issues for you!

Kind regards,

Researcher's personal knowledge
Google search: warble vibrato singing, "how to whistle"

Request for Answer Clarification by whistlingwhistler-ga on 23 Sep 2006 13:26 PDT
I have heard of humans doing warbling which is a type of whistling.

Clarification of Answer by kriswrite-ga on 25 Sep 2006 08:35 PDT

"Warbling" is sometimes applied to whistling, but the word's exact
meaning is vague. Generally, it means a whistle that contains a wide
vibrato, just as would be heard in warbling singing. A regular whistle
may have no vibrato, or it might have slight vibrato. A "warbling
whistle," though, has a wide vibrato. (See "Whistle:" , "The mechanics of
Whistling:" )

Here is a great description, provided by J.M. Schlitz at "Kunstpfeifen
Traditions" ( ):

"'Warble' is a term used by ornothologists to describe bird behaviour.
Whistling entertainers began using it around 1870-1910, when bird
effects became a popular part of vaudeville whistling...the exact
musical meaning of 'warble' depends on the whistler in question, who
may (or may not) use it to denote any number of musical effects--
tremolo, trill, vibrato, and/or flutter-- through any number of
articulation techniques, such as laterale*, nodale**, uvulare***,
and/or portamento. Thus there are almost as many definitions of
'warbling' as there are whistlers who use the term (some may even
spell it 'wharbling,' instead)...

In short, "warble" or "wharble" has no meaning in terms of music. 

* i.e., lateral articulation; the effect which is generated by
touching the roof of the mouth with the tongue as in pronouncing the
sound of the letter "L" in most languages.
** Nodale is node-crossing, or alternation between two notes belonging
to different modal (or "harmonic") registers.
*** Uvulare denotes uvular fricative, used for flutter in most wind
instruments, though in artwhistling it has additional possibilities. "

I would add that tremolo, vibrato, trill, and flutter all are very
similar. They are words used to describe the flucuation between two
different notes when a note is held.

Kind regards,

whistlingwhistler-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Excellent research!  Thanks very much!!

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