Micro-dynamic variation adds lift to any music and loft for morris dancers even at top volume, IMHO. When I say Micro-dynamics I mean the shaping of attack envelopes for each note that add up to musical phrasing and punchy rhythmic playing that can cut through the noise of live dance situations. The use of micro-dynamics is not the only tool for doing this but it's a good one.
Yes, I've also heard the quiet end of AC reeded hybrids sounding curtailed compared to traditional concertina reeds. I miss it when playing my Morse. What makes my Jefferies such a joy to play is how the reeds continue to sound, right down to a whisper. The quieter the whisper available.. the better I like it. Often I'm just dipping into that whisper for the merest of moments during play, but I'm doing it almost every other note. The willingness of traditional concertina reeds to speak at all volumes, makes playing them a joy... a sort of a buttery feeling that I love in the best instruments. Not having that whisper available makes my playing on the Morse only just a bit less joyful. With other cheaper Anglos I sometimes play, the low end of the dynamic range is even more curtailed. The playing experience and the music suffer, but they are still fun too and great music can be played on them as well.
A beginner or even an experienced concertinist could play for many many years and never miss this ability to get down to a
whisper. Making use of it requires a high level of bellows control that few players achieve or even want to achieve. So many other musical elements are much more important to master first.
Agree re: micro dynamics in Morris. The better traditional instruments have one more advantage - better bellows, making those micro dynamics easier. My Jeffries G/D came with a badly worn and not great quality replacement bellows, and it was much harder to have nuanced bellows control than my Morse hybrid. Then I had them replaced with a Jowaisas bellows, and the difference was incredible. Now it's much easier to achieve fine control than the Morse.
One other factor: in my experience, at least, even the best G/D hybrids, have lower reeds that tend to respond a little slowly. When I switch from my traditional to hybrid G/D, I have to adjust my playing somewhat to compensate for the lag in the lower registers.
The issue of playing quietly - my sense is that the Morse boxes, at least, are improving in this regard. I remember playing one of their early C/Gs, and thinking that it just had two volume setting: loud and louder. The one I bought several years ago has more range in terms of volume, but still not as much as a good traditional reeded instrument.
I agree with you that the good hybrids are terrific learning instruments; you have to be pretty far along in your playing to be held back by one. And I find them to be outstanding Morris boxes because of their strong volume and light weight, not an insignificant factor when you're on your feet playing all day.
But there's nothing like the smooth, responsive feel and the great honk of a Jeffries.
Edited by Jim Besser, 17 August 2014 - 06:54 PM.