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Tradewinds Ted

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About Tradewinds Ted

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    Chatty concertinist

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  • Interests
    Folk Music, incl. Banjo, Whistle, Dulcimer, Singing, and Dance
    Anglo Concertina
  • Location
    Now in Wisconsin! formerly in Lancashire.

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  1. Tradewinds Ted

    Long time accordion player learning concertina

    I learned to read music in piano lessons, subsequently reinforced with playing horns in band and orchestra when in school, as well as singing in various choirs. Now playing Anglo, I prefer to play new melodies from written notation, not from any of the various tabs. Where the same note is found in more than one place, and perhaps in more than one direction, then the button option chosen during the initial sight reading may not be the one I ultimately choose when developing my arrangement, since finger availability coming from or going to neighboring notes, or bellows capacity in a given direction, or phrasing, may be better with one choice. Tabs can be a useful way to precisely convey such button choices, but I don't read tab at speed, just laboriously use it to slowly work out the details of some else's written arrangement, to see if I like those choices. From then on I either go back to the standard notation, or eventually learn the tune properly so I can play it without reading. I never write anything in tab, but sometimes in written notation I will draw a line over all the notes I want to play on the draw, to indicate the changes in bellows direction, as a gentle reminder for next time of the button choices I found will work better. So I definitely learned early on which buttons and directions correspond to which notes. As for how long it takes, that is really a matter of how you choose to learn new tunes as you play. If you do a lot of sight reading from notation, as I did, then it happens very quickly, although it can be frustrating at first. If you usually learn new tunes from tabs first, then learning to associate buttons and direction with the notation takes much longer, since that isn't what your mind is doing while you learn. I started with a 20 button instrument, and therefore could (generally) play only in the home keys. That provided me with excellent training in what the core of the instrument could and couldn't do, but now learning to automatically find the accidentals in the outer row on my other instruments has taken longer, since that isn't what I was practicing until more recently. Many people regard the Anglo as an instrument to learn by ear. I don't often learn that way, but I agree that it makes sense, at least while playing in the home keys and some nearby keys. Again, if this is what you practice, then this is what you will learn. When I participated in a bit of session playing a while back, I did pick up a few tunes by ear soon enough. While playing along a row in one of the home keys, the instrument will guide you to likely notes, and even likely harmonies, making playing by ear much easier in that situation. Of course learning to play across the rows can be more useful than playing along the rows in the long run. Most folk tunes when written will not show a harmony line, but just melody and some suggested chord changes, so for those melodies in the home keys, I generally select harmony notes somewhere along the same row, with occasional harmony notes played cross row where appropriate to fit the indicated chord. (such as while playing in the key of G, and the melody note is an F# on the G-row, I would pull a D note off the C-row to get part of a D chord) I try to keep a nice smooth harmony line going and avoid irregular jumps. If playing something with more accidentals, or if the tune is in a key away from the home keys, creating a harmony line becomes much more difficult and requires careful planning, since some note combinations simply are not available in the same direction. In these cases I will often write out the harmony and melody line together in notation.
  2. Tradewinds Ted

    New to concertina

    The patterns of notes on the push and pull of the C and G rows are closely related to the patterns of notes on a C and G harmonica, and for the same reason of harmonizing while playing in the home keys. That doesn't necessarily mean you should just play any given tune up and down one row separately depending which key you are in, since there are advantages to crossing rows to get better fingering and phrasing. But it may help you understand the logic of the patterns. With the 20 button, you won't have the 30 button's outer row of accidentals and reversals which does seem more random. That also means there are a few notes which simply aren't available at all, and if you are looking to play Irish session tunes the first one you will miss will be the C# needed for tunes in D major. But no worries, there are a great many tunes in C and G major, and the related minors, and modes, and if you have the option to choose the key to play in then you can transpose to a key for which you do have all the notes. That may not be so true for jazzy tunes with lots of accidentals and blues chords, but you can still play partial chords, if someone else is playing the missing notes at least part of the time. Most often a light touch on the harmony is better anyway. Finding your way around the combination of melody and available harmony notes is part of the charm of the Anglo. I love my 20 button.
  3. Tradewinds Ted

    Swedish fiddle tunes

    Arrived in the post from across the pond already yesterday, and it might even have been there a few days, as I had not even looked since Friday. While I haven't had a chance to play any of the tunes just yet, I read through several of them before bed and at least in my head they sounded wonderful. Sight-reading the peculiar rhythms and syncopations of Scandinavian music do give one pause though. (Ha!) I'm figuring that one concertina should be possible to play both the 1st and 2nd fiddle parts on some of these, although the lack of the low A reversal and the low Bb on my 26 button Anglo may complicate matters for a few passing harmony notes. I have this on the nightstand now ready to hand; my location for whatever one thing I'm most delighted to keep perusing at the moment. Very glad you let us know about it John!
  4. Tradewinds Ted

    Swedish fiddle tunes

    Thanks! Just ordered.
  5. Tradewinds Ted

    Playing Position for Left Handed players

    I agree, she should do what is most comfortable. (although Geoff's mention of someone bending the bellows over their knee makes me cringe a little.) The theory of keeping the right hand free to operate the bellows since it is also operating the air button seems reasonable at first glance, but I don't believe there is anything to it, just an earnestly believed justification of why it feels right for the teacher at the workshop. I tend to keep my right hand on the right knee despite being right-handed. Even though that means the left hand is controlling the bellows movement while the right controls the air button, it feels to me that keeping the right end stable actually helps with smooth operation of the air button, but that could just be me looking for justification. I find that both my hands are connected to the same person. Really, I simply find that keeping the left hand planted just feels awkward, whether I am using the air button or no. Maybe my right arm was sore when I first was learning to play? I also sometimes play with both hands up off my knees and free to move, such as when sitting too close to a table to allow the instrument near my lap, or when standing!
  6. If I understand correctly, the button 1A previously had C#/C# (before removing the solder but now is D/C#) and button 2A is D#/D# ? Rather than doing any filing of any reeds what about adding the solder back on the reed you removed it from, and then simply swapping the reeds between the two positions to get the more standard Jeffries arrangement of 1A with D#/C# and 2A with C#/D# - if that is what you want. At least this would be reversible, while filing reeds is not. I would guess that the C#/C# and D#/D# arrangement as found was likely the result of someone previously swapping reeds.
  7. Tradewinds Ted

    Action pin pulled out -- how to repair?

    I've had this happen. I found that pressing the pin back in (gently holding the pin using a pliers to allow more than simple finger pressure, but not hammering) worked for a while, but eventually it worked loose again. Glue will help, but since the hole is still tight enough that just pressing the pin back in holds it for a while, then you probably don't really need to use a cyanoacrylate glue, if you are concerned about irreversibility. A tiny film of a far less aggressive glue such as PVA (I used Elmer's clear "school" glue) will likely offer enough additional bond to hold for a good long time; it has worked for me. And I know I could pull the pin out without damage if there was ever a reason to do so. With similar repairs in other applications, a variation of the match (or toothpick) trick I've used to get a tight fit in a loose hole is to add a tiny scrap of paper instead. This works if the extra room to be taken up isn't quite enough for even a sliver of matchstick. The slightest coating of a water soluble glue applied to both sides of the scrap of paper before inserting it into the hole will also lubricate the pin insertion (while the glue is wet) while improving the bond as the glue squeezes in between the paper fibers before it dries. I must admit my experience with concertina repairs is still limited though! I've seen Chris Ghent comment here often enough to expect he knows what he says. And I admit I have fashioned a couple of safety pins into spring replacements, which he warns about. I did however already know not to use too strong a spring, because of my experience with the loose pin. So I do think the tiny little brass safety pins I found seemed a good match to the desired spring pressure, and therefor for me these have not yet caused a loosened pin. Dry air in winter causing wood to shrink has occasionally been an issue where I am now, but for other reasons in my case.
  8. Tradewinds Ted

    Minstrel Anglo

    The Top Hat logo shows up in the woodcut pattern "Busker" model too, which makes sense to me for both of these models in the sense of passing the hat for tips, as a street performer might do. Appropriate for a mid-level instrument good enough to put on a show, but still affordable enough that one might be willing to regularly play out on the street. With the "Troubador" name for a future Duet model apparently in the works, the set of three parallel model names with similar meanings ties together nicely. While the term "minstrel show" did come to mean the insulting style of black-face entertainment which was unfortunately popular for a while in 1800's into 1900's in the US, that more specific term did originally develop from the more common use of "minstrel" to mean any travelling performer (usually musical), and that in turn derived from the medieval use of "minstrel" to mean a court performer. (as mentioned previously) I wouldn't want to promote insult through misunderstanding, but it seems a loss to give up on a perfectly acceptable and innocent meaning of a word. Wouldn't it be better instead to reclaim the word for proper use?
  9. Tradewinds Ted

    Tips & Tricks for Contra

    The film based on Anne Rice's book was relatively new at the time Peter first published, so Dave Barnett is correct. But of course Peter is also referring to the style of piano accompaniment used in a contra dance band, not just coming up with a random name for his instruction book. Apparently the broader definition of vamping is the repetition of a simple musical phrase or pattern. That can mean either exact repetition as needed to fill time, such as during the staging of a show, OR it can mean the repetition of a rhythmic chord pattern while the melody varies against it, as Wunks has described. As it happens "Boom-Chuck" is the basic rhythmic accompaniment style quite often used on the piano in a Contra-dance band. Therefore this is the most basic style described Peter's book, although he expands upon it quite a bit, offering both interesting variations and many alternatives, along with some sound advice on playing rhythmic accompaniment in a band, specifically for dancers. The main point of the book seems to be an exploration of ways to balance the dichotomy of the need for absolutely rock solid rhythm for the dancers vs. the excitement provided by variations from the basic pattern.
  10. Tradewinds Ted

    Wanted! Wheatstone metal badge

    and perhaps your address as you don't seem to live in London! or maybe just your house number, in the style of a serial number badge.
  11. Tradewinds Ted

    Any New Swan concertina owner ?

    Your Jones doesn't have metal ends, but the Swan does. Your Jones does appear to have thin leather baffles in the ends though, which can help to reduce the overall volume slightly, and may help produce a warmer, less harsh sound. I think the idea was to suggest trying something similar in the metal ends of the Swan.
  12. Tradewinds Ted

    Brenda Stubbert's Reel

    I don't know if you are trying to learn it by ear, or if you have the sheet music. or even if you read music. I've never played this one, so I can't offer any tips, or tricks, or preferred fingerings, but I do see that there are several settings for this tune over at the Session. https://thesession.org/tunes/727 Several settings are in A dorian, which means the same key signature as G major so it ought to be possible even on a 20 button C/g Anglo. Of course the reversals on the third row may help with getting it up to speed. Hard to pick out but it sounds like the fiddle is playing a version in a style similar to the first or third setting, I think the concertina isn't playing all of those embellishments, although difficult to keep track. Something like the second or fifth setting ought to do, even if others are playing all the frills. I assume that A dorian is the original key, so I didn't look at the other two settings. They were clearly joking about taking it slow in that video! I'm no expert, that is WAY faster than I've ever played anything, on any instrument. They have impressive technical skill to be able to do this, but too fast for the tune in my opinion, as I really would prefer to hear the music when I listen to it, rather than miss most of it. Sessions in a pub can get going pretty fast. That is fun if you can do it, but it doesn't serve the music well, and if this tune was ever played as a reel for dancing it would need to be much slower. In my opinion if you can get this playing this at even 1/2 the speed of the video then you are already close; anything more than 2/3 the speed of the video is too fast. Edit to say I DO like the tune, despite my curmudgeonly comments. Thanks for sharing it.
  13. Tradewinds Ted

    Tips & Tricks for Contra

    I'd suggest taking a look at the book by Peter Barnes -"Interview with a Vamper: Piano Accompaniment Techniques for Traditional Dance Music" While this book is clearly written with piano in mind, he is brilliant at both making sure the music keeps the dancers on the beat and suiting the dance, and also offering stylistic variety. Written with the assumption that other instruments are carrying the melody, so you would be playing rhythm and harmony, but not the melody, even though piano is obviously just as capable of playing melody+ as is the concertina. (When you want to play melody, you already know how to do that, and then the rest of the band plays the rhythm and harmonies.) Available from him directly at canispublishing.com I also see it in stock at Elderly music, and Amazon
  14. Tradewinds Ted

    Desert island concertinas

    Learned (or perhaps re-learned) something then. Thanks. I somehow had it in my head it was both a desert and deserted! So really, in addition to choosing an instrument, I need to choose a good single-hand boat.
  15. Tradewinds Ted

    Desert island concertinas

    Maybe pinch someone else's prize instrument to bring with me, so the owner would have an incentive to come rescue? If there isn't going to be a rescue, then I'd be looking for something durable, and easy to repair, so more likely one of the top end hybrids. I assume I also get to bring tools? If it is to be one I already actually own, then a tough choice between the 20 button Lachenal I first learned on and fell in love with, or the 26 button Jones I play more often lately because of the additional notes. Both have very sweet tone, but the Lachenal is sweeter, I was very lucky to find this particular instrument when I first started out. But I'd be worried about the effects of humidity on the wood, because I have experienced problems with the dry indoor winter air here - do you think a desert island would be excessively dry (desert) or humid (island) ?