Tuneful whistling seems to be almost a forgotten art. Yet whistling can be a useful substitute for those times when one has the urge to produce music, but is too lazy to whip out one's musical instrument and toss off a few notes. You don’t need any extraneous equipment, and there's no complicated fingering to remember.

However, whistling should only be done alone in the privacy of one's home, because not everyone can endure the sound of prolonged whistling, specially of complex melodies. Listeners, unfortunately, cannot appreciate the fact that while they hear what they take to be only an irritating shrill noise, the whistler is in fact rendering the full orchestrated multi-nuanced version. (And if you start to whistle only the counterpoint, this drives listeners completely nuts.)

Some good tunes are: "Strangers in the Night", "Fascinating Rhythm", the James Bond theme, "Puttin' on the Ritz", "Begin the Beguine", The Avengers theme, "Cheek to Cheek"...(You can try to whistle "Whole Lotta Love" or "3 A.M Eternal", but they’re just not gonna cut it.)

Bad tunes for whistling

or: Whistlin' Dixie Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie

"Dixie" or "Dixie's Land" is delightful and terribly catchy tune. The simple melody is easy to whistle when one does not intend to do so. It is wise to not let this happen as I once so aptly demonstrated...

Some time ago while under the influence of a college roommate, I found myself intruigued by the music of the civil war era. At first they were just covers and remakes performed by more modern artists. As I went deeper into this genre, I got into the likes of Hoyt Axton and many songs written by Stephen Collins Foster.

We live in a predominantly black neighbourhood, which has been an absolute pleasure. I, of course, am not white so much as I am colourless, or, so white I am colourless. I have experienced only positive interaction with the residents of my neighbourhood, no matter what ethnic origin they may be.

This brings me back to the music. I had been marching around the apartment triumphantly to some brass band version of "Dixie's Land" cranked full blast all afternoon and generally acting like an idiot(which college students spend most of their time doing). It was nearing the end of the week-end, and I needed to get some groceries, so I headed down to the small local grocery store; song still stuck in head.

I arrive at the store, snag a cart, and with a merry spring in my step I bounce down the aisle, just a whistlin' dixie the whole way 'round. The grocery store is my heaven. Fresh steaming loaves of bread come out of the ovens at intervals of which I have intimate knowledge. I start to get some funny glances, a couple blank stares, and my good mood is dampened a little. I cease my tune and begin nonchalantly checking my pants fly and worrying about some giant phantom greener hanging from my nose.

Not being from the United States, and not having much education in the way of U.S. history, I hadn't made the connection between the song and exactly where people of colour stood in the minds of "Good 'ol rebels" in the south during that period. Not until that moment with ten or twelve older black women staring at me. I froze and felt the hot prickles of embarassment hit the back of my neck. Quickly turning, I grabbed my essentials, headed for the cash register, and got in line.

I began whistling "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" loud enough for the woman in front of me to change lines.

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