The Factory Whistle Story.....
WORLD’S LOUDEST MUSIC WITH OUT AMPLIFICATION FROM A NON MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
Traditional Christmas Carols Played on a Factory Whistle
New York Wire Company 1889 - 2012
Every Christmas morning at 12:15 AM since December 25, 1955, the Ryan family has presented a unique heralding of the holiday season. Announcing the arrival of Christmas day, whistle master Donald E. Ryan starts to play carols on a factory whistle. Thousands of people each year make listening to the carols part of their holiday tradition. This tradition has, perhaps, no other counterpart in the world!
In addition to Donald Ryan, four other people are engaged in this unusual carol concert. Family members Scott or Lisa point out the corresponding notes on a temporary music chart, while the complicated device for playing the music is being operated by their father. Mark Ryan pulls and holds the valve open to the whistle. Meanwhile, a fourth person who is employed by Metso Co. produces the air needed for the twenty minute concert.
The cylindrical whistle is 15 inches long and approximately 5 1/8 inches in diameter. The whistle was never intended as a musical instrument, thus making the entire performance all the more remarkable. Steam was used up until 2009. Since 2010 compressed air has been used. It works on the same principle as a toy slide-whistle. Steam or air is injected into the whistle, the piston moves to a given point, which produces a single note. When the piston changes, the steam or air column is increased or decreased, depending on the movement of the piston, thereby producing another note.
The whistle’s actual age is unknown, but it was installed at the plant in the late 1800’s. The purpose of the whistle, at that time, was to announce the start and end of a work day, including the lunch hour. Today, electric buzzers have been installed throughout the plant to replace the whistle. Now the whistle is only used for the annual Christmas concert.
In order for the music that the Ryan family has written to be on key, the pressure needs to be maintained throughout the concert. At times, variations do occur causing a slight change in tone intonation.
On a calm night, Yorkers can hear the carols within a 5 mile radius. However, depending on wind direction, at a distance of 10 to 12 miles, residents have reported hearing the shrill sounds of the Christmas carols being played on the factory whistle. Technically speaking, a jet engine, 23 feet away, develops a sound that measures 115 decibels. By comparison the factory whistle at the same distance produces 134.1 decibels.
Donald Ryan has captured the Christmas spirit in the unique sounds that only he and the New York Wire Company and Metso Co. can claim. This has made Donald Ryan world famous and universally popular by being featured on: NBC-TV, CBS-TV, ABC-TV, CNN-TV, CNN Headline News, 700 Club, National Broadcasting Radio (NPR), National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, German Magazine, Dec.25, 2014 first live concert on the internet, and The Guinness Book of World Records.
Story: Mark Ryan www.yorkpafactorywhistle.com Rev. 1-23-15