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Big Mystery - Decide For Yourselves


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#19 Henrik Müller

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:08 AM

I haven't got to the later tracks yet; however someone who has heard only the Bluebell Polka track has suggested the English player Gordon Cutty. I've not heard anything by him, though a quick google suggests that Free Reed have had recordings by him. Does that sound possible?

Chris

Yep - correct. I just checked in my iTunes - Track 16 of Gordon Cutty "A Grand Old-Fashioned Dance" is the same tune (here is the benefit of having all my music digitized and ripped).

Same tune - not same track. It doesn't have the constant vamping as Chris' file - it is much more "broken up" into melody and chord parts.

Personally, I'd say duet, but I am tempted to agree with Jim's suggestion - two instruments.

/Henrik

#20 JimLucas

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:38 AM

Knowing where Alan obtained the recording, and looking at the high likelyhood of this being some of the Kensington Group c1959, there wouldn't have been too many of them with a background in folk music. And there are a number of folk tunes on the tape, along with more clasical items.

I can't say anything about the other numbers without hearing them, but I think "Bluebell Polka" is so well known that I would class it as "popular", rather than folk. At least in America, I think it's commonly played at weddings, along with waltzes, foxtrots, etc. (For the benefit of the parents' generation, perhaps, but since they're the ones paying for the band.... :D) And I'm sure I played it in my school marching band, years before I became aware of "folk" music.

Which brings up another point:

I must admit that I hadn't considered the possibility of 3 concertinas until I read Jim's post. Not convinced though. But I agree that there is ceretainly more than one.

I think concertina players -- and guitar and piano players, as well -- have a built-in prejudice to expect the bass and chords to come from the same instrument, because that's what they do. (English players might be excepted, though not all of them.) But that's certainly not the case in a brass band. There the on-the-main-beats, oom-pah bass is generally played by tuba, trombone, or baritone horn, while the chords on the off beats are played by French horns and other horns of a higher range (though still lower than the melody).

So I might speculate that the same is being done here, except that all the off-beat chord notes are being played on the same instrument. Among other things, if these persons are used to reading music, then they might well have taken their arrangement directly from a brass band arrangement, keeping the bass part separate, only combining on one instrument the "chord" notes which are always played together.

I do think the chord notes are all being played on one instrument, because it feels that way. In more technical terms, the timbre of all the notes of each chord sounds the same, and the subtle variations of stress even within the length of a given note seem to match precisely. But it's by the same token that I suspect the bass notes are done on a different instrument: the timbre sounds different to me, and so does the volume/stress profile within the individual notes; it sounds similar from bass note to bass note, but different from the chords, as if the two are being played by different individuals.

Anyway, that's how it looks -- or rather sounds -- to me. :)

#21 Alan Day

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:48 AM

Iris Bishop arrives back from Australia today and Jim is going to let her have a lsiten to the recordings to get her view on who it may be and what they are playing.
We still have an even split on this recording,Graham thinks it is one player and Peter has changed his mind.
The subtle hint Stephen, was not in my posting but my phone call.Sorry I missed you.
Al

#22 RatFace

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 11:53 AM

Would someone like to try the same on an English?


Assuming it's one instrument then it's definitely not English - the combination of bass notes, melody and chords is all wrong (you could get the same effect, possibly, on English, but the chord spacings would change a lot more in order to fit the rest, I think). Also, with an English you would have a far worse balance between treble/bass.

So, if it's one instrument it's definitely duet, imo. I don't think there's any dynamics variations between treble/bass that can't be done using phrasing. The treble/bass volume/tone differences can be explained with the asymmetric duet construction (internal baffles/finer fretwork etc) and mic placement and mic response/subsequent processing. Also, the phrasing and mistakes (of which there are quite a few) seems to me to be much more like a duet player than (solo) English - or at least - they're not the mistakes _I_ would make!!

I think it's one (duet) player. Not only do I think it's consistent with a single fairly-good duet player, but if it was multiple players then I think they're _far_ better at playing together (through the little timing variations that don't always make "sense") than the person playing the tune is at playing the tune, and that would be odd.

#23 PeterT

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 12:24 PM

and Peter has changed his mind.

Not sure that I have, Alan :unsure: , although one of my early off-forum mails to you does look a bit confusing. Well, I was doing about three things at once, and I don't multi-task that well.

I was fishing for Danny Chapman to respond, and his posting is exactly what I was expecting (thanks, Danny).

Regards,
Peter.

#24 JimLucas

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:24 PM

I think it's one (duet) player. Not only do I think it's consistent with a single fairly-good duet player, but if it was multiple players then I think they're _far_ better at playing together (through the that don't always make "sense") than the person playing the tune is at playing the tune, and that would be odd.

Danny, please clarify. I haven't noticed anything in the "Bluebell Polka" that I would call "little timing variations" as you seem to describe them. I and the others who have only that number to listen to cannot argue either for or against you if you're talking about tracks that we haven't heard. By the same token, we have no way of judging whether all the tracks are of either the same musician(s) or the same instrument(s).

Your description "little timing variations" seems similar to Alan's of "slightly speeds up at one point makes a mistake the accompaniment follows it exactly", which he said he heard in other tracks. That description leads me to suspect that maybe those tracks are single instsruments, but the more I listen to Bluebell, the more I'm sure it's at least two.

I'm not absolutely sure about the three. The differences I think I hear between the bass and chords are subtle and could come from one instrument. But between the bass/chords and the melody I hear their relative volume vary, even within a few beats, and I don't see that that's possible if both parts are being supported by the same bellows.

If it is the Bluebell track where you hear the "little timing variations" that make you think it's only one instrument, please tell me where they are, so that I can attempt to hear them, too. To support my own contention, I suggest listening to the oom-pah bass against the melody in the first two measures of the first B part, then in the next two measures. I think I hear the bass getting softer without a corresponding softening of simultaneous notes in the melody. Similarly, during the first A part of the second repetition of the whole tune, I think I hear the volume of the melody in measures 3-4 increase over that in measures 1-2, but with no corresponding increase in the volume of the bass.

Just my imagination, or do others hear the same?

#25 PeterT

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:58 PM

Just my imagination, or do others hear the same?

I bet that the original musician would have had a laugh had he (or she) known that we would be debating the recording at such length.

#26 JimLucas

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:17 PM

I bet that the original musician would have had a laugh had he (or she) known that we would be debating the recording at such length.

MusicianS, Peter.
I'm sure of it. :D

#27 PeterT

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 02:21 PM

I bet that the original musician would have had a laugh had he (or she) known that we would be debating the recording at such length.

MusicianS, Peter.
I'm sure of it. :D

Alan. where's that poll?

#28 PeterT

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:30 PM

Firstly; apologies to those who have not heard the extended play version, just the Bluebell Polka.

I have just given my undivided attention to the whole CD which runs to nearly 46 minutes. My comments are as follows:

From the start until 36min 10 sec I am certain that every item is played solo, by a Maccann Duet player. Bluebell Polka is one of the items played. Note: for those who are not convinced, take away the melody and listen to the accompaniment. Would you really want to be playing that as your contribution to an excellent performance? Any duo would probably be better matched in terms of ability, and the "second line" of the arrangement would be much more interesting.

From 36mn 10 sec to 39min 50 sec, we have ensemble playing. I can hear Treble English, Bass English and a third English playing a Tenor part (I suspect it's a Tenor/Treble). I can also hear an audience, suggesting either a competition, or ICA Meeting.

From 39min 50sec to 42min 50sec, we have a duo. I can hear a Treble and a Baritone.

From 42min 50sec to the end, we have an ensemble. This is interesting; I can hear Treble, Bass, PIANO and, I think, Tenor/Treble.

Regards,
Peter.

#29 JimLucas

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 05:21 PM

Firstly; apologies to those who have not heard the extended play version, just the Bluebell Polka.

I have just given my undivided attention to the whole CD which runs to nearly 46 minutes.

Peter, that's fine for you, but useless for me. I understood that the reason Alan offered the Bluebell track to the whole of C.net was because more than one experienced individual has already given their "undivided attention" to the full CD, and they reached conflicting conclusions.

I am willing to be convinced by what I can hear, but not simply by the fact of your personal certainty. (Neither do I disagree with you purely because of that certainty.) So far, all I have heard is Bluebell, and my ear has led me to a conclusion that differs from yours. Would your conclusion be different if you had heard only the Bluebell track? We don't know, and it's too late to try to find out. You have heard the others. And I haven't.

From the start until 36min 10 sec I am certain that every item is played solo, by a Maccann Duet player. Bluebell Polka is one of the items played.

And since I am "certain" that the Bluebell track is not a solo Maccann duet player, then it seems possible that I might also come to conclusions different from yours on some of the other tracks, if I could hear them, possibly including a conclusion that those first 36 minutes and 10 seconds were not all of the same identical player(s) and instrument(s).

Is that 36'10" section you speak of all one continuous recording? If so, and if there's no noise between numbers to indicate a change of personnel, then I would consider that to be evidence -- not "proof", but "evidence" -- that they were all played by the same person(s) and instrument(s). But then I would also expect some sort of commentary in between numbers.

If there's no continuity between numbers, then I don't think one should conclude that they were necessarily all part of the same event, or even recorded on the same day. Of course, similarities in sound are also evidence, and you apparently think they're there and convincing. But for most of us they're not there, simply because the recordings aren't "there" for us to listen to.

So I think that you should discuss your conclusions with Alan -- and with others who have the full CD, -- but I think it's both futile and unfair to try to draw us into discussion of things we're unable to examine, or to try to influence our conclusions about the Bluebell track by making a claim we cannot verify.

But we do have a basis for discussing the Bluebell track.

Note: for those who are not convinced, take away the melody and listen to the accompaniment. Would you really want to be playing that as your contribution to an excellent performance?

As I noted above, we don't seem to know anything about this "performance", including its purpose. So what basis do we have for speculating on the "artistic" motivations behind whoever is performing. Was it really supposed to be a spectacular display of inconsummate artistry, or merely a good bit of entertainment? I certainly find that recording of the Bluebell Polka enjoyable, and my enjoyment of the arrangement won't change if I discover I'm wrong about the number or type(s) of concertinas producing it. Maybe it was a demo recording? I do think that if those first 36'10" really are all one person (or even group), then it can't have been a competition.

Any duo would probably be better matched in terms of ability, and the "second line" of the arrangement would be much more interesting.

Why should the purpose of a recording of two players necessarily be to highlight a duo composed of equals? Why not to highlight a "soloist", with accompaniment? I can well imagine an accompanist deliberately keeping the accompaniment simple as a way of helping the "solo" part to stand out. I can also imagine a soloist being unable to obtain a more accomplished accompanist. If your experience is that all you need to do to obtain an ideal peforming partner is to snap your fingers, then please snap yours for me. ;)

Maybe if I could hear the full CD, I would come to the same conclusions as you. Or maybe not. But unless and until that happens, any debate of any contents other than the Bluebell will be entirely one-sided.

#30 PeterT

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 01:58 AM

Hi Jim,

Maybe, on reflection, it would have been better to mail Alan, off Forum, as you have raised a significant number of valid points (from your perspective).

I don't want you questions to go unanswered, as this would appear rude. But I'm not sure that a lengthy response, to each point, should be posted on the Forum.

Would you be happy for me to respond off Forum?

Regards,
Peter.

#31 JimLucas

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 02:42 AM

Would you be happy for me to respond off Forum?

Absolutely. :)

#32 Gavin Atkin

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 04:05 AM

I feel a poll coming on.


That might have to be the way, if Alan will accept it as sufficient for guidance!

Like many of you I can't quite decide whether it's:

- two instruments (one probably an English) played by two very competent and together musicians, one of whom is holding back to an almost supernatural degree or

- a duet.

If it is a duet, my guess is that it's probably be a Crane because of the fluidity of the tune line and the straight simplicity of the stabbed chords - a Jefferies player would have great difficulty achieving that fluidity, and I've never yet heard a McCann player sound at all like this recording.

Gav

#33 Woody

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 04:55 AM

FWIW It sounds like one player to me.

- W

#34 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 05:54 AM

... now I'm sure that many of the earlier tracks are of someone playing a large duet, whilst others (especially the last few) seem to be of a group of English concertina players. It's definitely not all one performance.

I've now listened to the CD giving it my full attention, and written down the times the different "tracks" begin (a big problem in analysing the content being that there are no track divisions on the CD), so this is what I think I'm hearing:

0.00 March - Duet
2.13 Barn Dance - Duet
4.29 Bluebell Polka - Duet
6.07 Colonel Bogey - Duet
8.45 Classical Overture - English concertina group
13.35 March - Duet
16.19 Waltz - Duet
18.59 French Musette Waltz - Duet
21.25 Folk Selection - Duet
27.35 March - Duet
30.02 March - Duet
33.06 Classical piece - English concertina duet
36.07 Classical piece - English concertina group
39.48 Organ piece - English concertina group
42.53 Waltz - English concertina group

:blink:

#35 Mark Evans

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 06:16 AM

Jim has goaded me into finding my "coglioni" and giving my opinion on the Bluebell Polka. I've not heard enough Duet playing to make an "informed" declaimation, but my ears suggest to me, EC playing the melody and some sort of free reed instrument playing chords with EC. Occational pulls on the tempo are well within a duo's communication with one another. Why not?

I shall now retreat from water too deep for ole Roly-Poly :unsure: .

#36 Dirge

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 06:35 AM

OK I have had a fiddle on my Maccan. I have NO DOUBT that I could reproduce this on it given some serious practice (and might well do but I'm not laying myself open to any challenges). I'd play it in D and it then really flows nicely; there's nothing particularly tricky about it, and I'm not claiming to be anything more than a relative novice. So can we stop all this 'better on a Crane' 'difficult to do on a duet' stuff please? It's simply wrong.

I've only got a 57 key available at the moment; it would have been a larger instrument than that to get the low notes I think.

NB this is not a comment on whether it really is a duet, simply confirmation that there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be, if you see the difference.




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