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About RAc

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    Chatty concertinist

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  • Skype

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  • Interests
    Acoustic music (guitar and concertina), paragliding, popular science
  • Location
    Southern Germany

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  1. well, let me first of all express my thorough thanks and appreciation to everybody who answered. It appears that the topic I raised resonates and thus does fill sort of a void so I'm glad I asked, and distilling the essence of all the answers will hopefully improve my (and possibly other people's as well) playing. As Wolf pointed out, the discussion has sort of branched into two distinct threads - one that tried to (hands-on answers to my question) formulate rules and guidelines for the problem I was facing, and one that questions the need for those rules in favor of musical expressiveness. I see the validity in both approaches, but the second approach (as Wolf also pointed out) is directed at a different target group and does not take into account that any musical instrument is (among other things) a tool, and tool usage can and should be analyzed, studied so it can be taught and internalized systematically. If I understand the musical learning process correctly, I see it (roughly) as a two-step process: First, learn how to use the tool by the rules so that in the second step, you can take the liberty to break them. Without a fundament (even if it appears constraning), few buildings stand strong. So I was looking for a (to my best knowledge) undocumented section of the tool handbook to tackle a very hands on issue, namely the problem that I was running out of air which in turn adversely affected the listening experience. Again I am very grateful to Wolf for establishing the link by pinpointing the issue. Geoff's and Adrian's points are undoubtedly valid and valuable but come from the point of view of those who have long passed the point where the rules can be broken which is certainly useful for many in a like situation (who hopefully can thus also benefit from this discussion). Regardless, I believe it is widely undisputed in the folk dance scene that the primary guides to the fingerboard should be the ear and the feet. Thus, stipulating (hypothetical) rules that roughly read "we indicate the bellows reversals in the sheet music and you translate them to the keyboard" would be as mechanical and undesireable as its - by many, including myself - not well regarded cousin, the classical "we give you black dots on white paper and you translate them to your instrument" approach. But establishing rules such as shining through here (along the lines of "figure out the phrasing and the heart of the tune and align the changes to them") I don't think mechanical and soulless at all, and they certainly beat not worrying about the issue at all and thus grinding errors into the playing that end up hard to iron out. Again, thanks to everybody and also to the forum admins for providing a place in which discussion like this can be held!
  2. RAc

    First Video...

    Actually, this was an incredible eye opening and very valuable remark. Wolf and I countinued that discussion in private, and I started a new thread for public discussion: Reversal policies Many thanks to Wolf for this, it's something bound to help me move forward musically. Thus my decision to go visual did have some merit (at least for me! :-))
  3. Hi there, based on a private discussion stemming from this here thread, I'd like to publicly continue a private conversation that imho should be of very high interest to all EC and Duet (ie unisonoric instrument) players. It also connects to an issue I brought up a few years ago (Bellow control) which however unfortunately took a wrong turn, possibly because the discussion was too abstract back then. Now we have a hands-on issue to look at! 🙂 Wolf kindly remarked on the bellow reversals in my public video. In a subsequent private conversation, he further suggested to align the reversals with the bars, ie change with every other bar border - from 2 to 3, 4 to 5 etc. Of course, that works in this particular tune, other schemes will need to be worked out for every tune depending on the particular dance rhtythm and groove of the piece (and possibly instrument constraints; I suspect that on my 6 fold small concertinas the reversals would need to occur more often than on my 8 fold 55 button). I then inspected the video again and found that frequently, I do in fact align on exactly those places (without doing it deliberately) but sometimes go astray only to land on the "right" spots later again. So it's similar to beginner's rhythmic errors, only on a different level. Seems like yet another thing to keep practicing - so far I never cared about systematic reversal policies much, being overwhelmed by every other challenge that the concertina posts already (even though I have known for a long time that bellows control is crucial for tone, as I pointed out in the thread I mentioned earlier). My questions thus to the other EC and Duet players in the audience would be: Is bellows control (which includes but of course doesn't end with reversal strategies) something you work on conciously, deliberately and systematically, or don't you think about it at all and suddenly find yourself falling into a fitting reversal rhythm (or don't even bother)? Do you keep consistent schemes or find yourself varying the reversals? Do you actively practice those things like you practice melodic and harmonic playing? Are you aware of any systematic studies or tutors that discuss reversal policies? Do teachers talk about these things? Do you use reversal techniques as style elements, for example to change the groove of apiece dynamically? Of course this is an issue that affects bisonoric players only marginally. Thanks for your input and again a big thanks to Wolf for taking the time to watch the video closely and getting me on a good track!
  4. RAc

    Pop Up Ads

    Thanks Don. Yes, I think we'll go with option #1 once I evaluate the ongoing costs. The upgrade is now in motion, coming soon... fingers crossed it goes smoothly! Paul Just out of curiosity: Has my suggestion in #28 simply gone out of focus or considered unworthy even discussing right from the start?
  5. RAc

    Pop Up Ads

    Another music oriented forum I used to be active on (fingerpicker.de) has a different model of cost covering. There are currently three sponsors - independent German guitar builders who have their logo on the forum's front page AND have a sub forum each moderated by themselves in which they can both advertise and initiate discussions about their products. I don't know how much the sponsors pay in return, but if Don's figures are transferrable, there would be about 300/a year each which I believe would be well within the budget of an instrument maker. This setup has been stable for well over ten years now and in part also works because the sponsors are active on the forum anyways, are well respected and active members and also engage in discussions outside of their respective subforums. Even if they weren't - open (and contributing) topic-related advertising appears to be better accepted and tolerated than the occasional outsider who signs up just to make a sales pitch for his record. In one sponsor's case, it is obvious that his forum presence has secured him a good number of instrument sales. Maybe something along those lines would be realizable in this forum as well considering that a good number of well respected concertina makers are active on this forum anyways. Edit: Of course I wouldn't mind contributing as a regular member which certainly beats being pestered by (topic unrelated and sometimes tasteless up to outright criminal) third-party placed ads, but I think that the admin's work would be so much more time cosuming trying to collect contributions from individual members than a few who might even get sales opportunities out of the deal...
  6. RAc

    Duet Tunes

    Why and what kind of music DO you expect? I've tried myself at a Crane for a few years now, and so far, English dance tunes that work fine on anglo concertinas work well for me. Theoretically I can tackle anything (at least my instrument doesn't prevent me), but as MacCannic pointed out, that kind of music provides pretty solid ground work to move on from. Unless of course it doesn't interest you musically, but then, one would need to know what does to give you useful hints.
  7. RAc


    Won't disagree with you. The two are not mutually exclusive; there's a place, time and arguments for and against each.
  8. RAc


    Actually, keeping a rock steady and secure rhythm is one of the positively non negotiable and most elementary skills of any musician but in particular for the kind of music most of us practice (because most make music for dancers, and dancers will forgive everything BUT rhythmic problems). So it's very wise of you to spend thoughts about the issue. I definitely advise in favor of a metronome or a rhythm computer. I almost always use a metronome as soon as I have remembered a tune well enough but in any case whenever I make a recording. Yes, it is difficult for the brain to incorporate this additional disturbance. It's a skill that is somewhat independent of the skill of playing a piece undisturbed, so it must be practiced separately (the expected reaction of the brain when you first try is is "WHAT? I can't make sense of this. Stop it. Shutdown."). However, very similar to where you first learnt a tune for yourself (one step at a time), playing alongside a metronome is a one step at a time process, and you'll gradually become better at it as you do it. Remember how you learnt to ride a bicycle; you'd find the pedal position to enter the bike, then roll a wheel's turn or two until you almost lost it, then jump off and keep doing it. Same thing with the metronome. Learn to identify the "1" beat, play the corresponding note of the first phrase. In the beginning that'll be the end and you'll get thrown off, but if you know your tune well enough, you'll be able to add the second note in a while, so find another "1" beat, play the "1" note again and try to add the second note in the right place. Keep repetaing that until you have a complete phrase and go on from there. VERY satisfying once that works. There are at least two added benefits of falling into the habit of playing alongside a metronome: First, it'll objectively tell you where in any given place in any tune you have deficiencies (either in memorizing what note comes next or motorically reaching the next note), and second, it'll make it easier for you to play in a session or a band context (because it's a similar challenge playing alongside other musicians). Alternatively, you can try playing alongside a recording (a UT video or a sound file) to accomplish a similar effect, but using a metronome is somewhat easier for beginners because the metronome allows you to pick up lost threads at any time or loop difficult pieces. When you play against a recording, you don't have the freedom because the tune will simply go on without you (as it will once you're in a session).
  9. RAc

    First Video...

    Very true, Alex. This is a point about Duets that Geoff Wooff has made several times: The bass side tends to overpower the treble side. I hadn't realized this until I played for a family circle where my mother in law got very irritated and said something to the amount of "that sounds good except for... those notes." I didn't realize what she meant by "those notes" until it figured that she was sitting to the left of me. When recording the concertina, I try to position the mics so they pick up both sides equally, sometimes even mainly the right hand side. Now I try to turn the left hand side away from any audience member. Must be very annoying at sessions to have a duet player sitting right from you... Thanks, Mike!
  10. RAc

    First Video...

    Well, I experimented a little bit with sound options following Paul's remark. May be of interest to others trying to release videos themselves: My research yielded that apparently there is no one stop shopping software that can generate videos with high quality sound compatible with audio software (though a lot of others have asked for it). My guess is that a) audio and video expertise is so highly spezialized and complex that any company focussing on one would be at loss trying to do the other as well and the computing power needed to render both audio and video recording simultaneously would make a single piece of software for both unattractive. Whichever, here's what most people recommend and what I ended up doing: I recorded the sound just as usual w/ Cubase and my audio setup (exactly the same thing as when recording audio only) and exported the sound file. At the same time, I recorded the video with the low quality built-in microphone. This yielded two files: A video file and a sound file. Using video processing software (in my case, Microsoft Video Maker), I added the sound file to the video and aligned it until the sound of the built-in micro and the "good" sound file completly overlapped. Then I muted the built in sound track and exported the entire thing as a new video which I then uploaded. Here's an unlisted video (quick and dirty style) generated with this process: https://youtu.be/Vdr_WfO461o I'm fairly satisfied with the result (at least w/ respect to the sound quality and video/audio synchronization). An additional bonus is that the sound file can also be used separately from the video. The workflow is more cumbersome compared to a desireable single recording, but the entire process was surprisingly simple and intuitive (I got done with the video in less than half an hour which included figuring out the workflow).
  11. RAc

    Playing By Ear

    Honestly, I'm not sure what you mean by "What I am not totally good at is predicting the sound I will get from pressing any one button." In my understanding, knowing *where* on the instrument the sound is you *want* to play next is a non negotiable basic requirement of any kind of music. So, associating finger positions and sounds is something that has to be as natural to your cortex as clutch, brake and gas pedal working. How you train that of course depends on the particular instrument you play (what layout?). Some are "more" or "less" logical or intuitive than others (on, noooo. Not that discussion again... ;.)), but without knowing where to aim, you certainly can't hit your target (which there was a less martial metaphore). So it's working on that ol' "finger memory," I guess. Or did I get anything wrong in your posting?
  12. RAc

    First Video...

    Thanks to you as well, Paul. This is actually another reason why I prefer audio only recordings: I have two high quality condensor micorophones hanging off an external sound card (Tascam US-600). My audio processing software allows me full control over the inputs. I see the resulting wave form on every channel in real time and can adjust the volume until I have exactly the right level. For a video in which the sound obviously is more important than the visual, I thought it would be a poor choice to replace the high quality mikes with the microphone built into the camera (which the video software understands). Since the camera software I use does not know anything about the underlying audio hardware and the control panel for the external sound card is not very comfortable, I don't have many options to control the sound as I record. Feeding the camera software from the output of Cubase may be an option but it means I'd have to run two sets of software concurrently, one for the video recording and the other one for the audio. On the first take, I had the microphone levels turned up apparently too high (the first video attempt came across distorted beyond acceptability). So I turned down the volume on the sound card a wee little bit for the second attempt (there are physical knobs on the Tascam) - but apparently too much. Point is, one doesn't know until the recording is finished. Should I attempt more video recording, I'll see if I can find a more satisfying solution. Thanks for the input, again!
  13. RAc

    First Video...

    Thank you Hereward, much appreciated!
  14. RAc

    First Video...

    https://youtu.be/JvHv0ISitUc I've long shied away from going visual for several reasons (major one being that videos require single take recordings which I'm not very good at). Anyways, why not give it a try. This is a lovely piece I found on the internet. I plan on learning it in F, G, A and Bb to be able to play it in various ensembles. Thanks for watching!
  15. RAc

    Totm Challenge: Old Meets Néw

    Thank you. Yes, but this is not my current wing.