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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. One possibility is playing each of the accompanying chord notes only briefly, while continuing notes in the melody line for their full value, so they shine through. That really works, but it takes some practice, (I rarely manage it) and it is a stylistic choice which may or may not fit the musical style you prefer. But I've seen it recommended and demonstrated here by some fine concertina players. Something I personally find works well is to accompany the melody line with a moving line of single notes, rather than full chords. That way the melody line doesn't get drowned out. The melody notes will most often also be in the chord (with some passing notes which aren't, of course) so as you move along through the melody the full chord will eventually be played, just not all at the same moment. One of the great things about the Anglo when playing in one of the home keys, is that quite often just playing a button one, two, or three positions to the left in the same row will provide a harmony note which fits the melody line, and is often within the desired chord, so this is a good start toward a harmony line. As you develop your way of playing a tune, you can figure out where to deviate from that pattern, or perhaps choose to play the melody note on a reversal using a different button, to make a different harmony note available. And when there is a passing note in the melody which is not in the chord, briefly playing an available harmony note n the same bellows direction often works just fine even though it isn't in what would be the considered the current chord. Again, this is a stylistic choice, and it might not fit your musical style, but I find it works surprisingly well. Neither of these techniques actually make the left hand notes quieter, but they do improve the ratio of melody sound to harmony sound so that doesn't matter any more, without needing to modify or replace your instrument. Edit: This situation is quite common, so don't worry about it if you are just starting out. Most likely you can work around it by adjusting your technique. Have fun!
  2. Tom Lewis used to do some narrowboat tours in England and Wales, but stopped a number of years ago, not exactly sure when. I did find online a description of the 2006 excursion, and I recall that at least once the excursion itinerary was set to allow participation in the Chester folk festival in May. Tom plays English Concertina and sings sea chanteys (not retired from that, just hasn't continued the narrowboat tours.) I knew of him first from his recordings and from hearing/seeing him sing at maritime festivals, years before I took up the concertina myself.
  3. I suggest changing up your practice occasionally. 1) Play through several of the tunes you already know, as a warmup. This also serves as a refresher, so they will be more or less ready when you want them. As for how many tunes: Play through just a few of your standards in any one day, but change them out from time to time so the ones you care for stay fresh. As for how many tunes overall to maintain: You mention 30 tunes you can "kind of" play with ABC notation, and 10 you can play by heart. That is great. I probably have only 10 I can play by heart at any one time, although there are a few more that I've learned and lost track of. I suppose some I've just forgotten about, but might be able to play, or at least work back up to playing, if reminded they even exist.! There are probably more than 30 I would be comfortable playing at speed while looking at notation, but in part that is because playing while reading music notation at speed is a skill I've worked on. (see item 3) Also I've been at it longer, although not practicing as diligently as you have of late. 2) Pick a tune (or two) and go deep. A few different ways: 2a) learn a tune by ear, as others have suggested. 2b) if you learned the tune from some form of written notation, learn to play it without that, working on a phrase at a time. 2c) try different fingerings, harmonies, variations. Possibly different keys. 2d) develop a "performance version" to perfect. For example, three times through with preferred variations, fingering, and harmony for each repeat. Note that this is NOT an ordered list, just several different ways to exploring a tune. There will be a lot of recursion - 2d) isn't really possible until you've spent some time on 2a,b,c but even then going back and trying new variations later is worthwhile. and one I haven't seen mentioned above: 3) Occasionally go for a romp through a tune book, or some printouts of tunes, and sight read through a whole mess of new tunes! A sight-reading romp offers pleasure and change of pace. It can't be the only thing you do, and might not be something to do often, but it also has several benefits in addition to being fun. This obviously stretches your ability to read music notation, but at the same time it also develops your ability to find notes on the instrument upon demand, rather than repeating a well worn routine. Paradoxically, this second part of the skill can later help you to learn (other) tunes by ear, on the fly. Another fairly obvious benefit to sight reading is getting to hear new tunes for which you might have only the notation available, but have seldom or never yet heard played or have no recordings for. I find tunes on the internet and am curious about them, so I'll print them out, perhaps with a few variations if available, to try later when I have the opportunity. Occasionally I find one of the new tunes really appeals, and is worth coming back to for a deep dive to really learn it. I do see you mention playing from ABC notation, so perhaps sight reading from standard notation may be difficult at first, but it definitely gets easier if you persist. I think ABC is a useful tool for transmitting and editing notation as a text file, but I find it really awful for reading at speed. I strongly prefer to translate ABC back to standard notation before using it! But then I have the advantage that I already was reading music from my experiences with piano lessons, then playing horn in school band/orchestra, and dabbling with other instruments in the decades since then, before coming to the concertina. On the other hand, perhaps you are comfortable with sight reading from ABC notation at speed? If so, then you have a skill I don't possess. I do think it is valuable learning to read standard music notation well, but my point on sight reading is to encourage you to occasionally try lots of new tunes, not discourage!
  4. I've not tried the Wren, but it does look intriguing. I did try the Rochelle in a shop a number of years ago. It seemed a good solid instrument for the price, but it is heavier and less responsive than a good vintage instrument. Still a good choice to learn on though, many people have. I suggest you search this site for "Wren" and "Rochelle" and take some time reading what is already written here, there will be quite a bit about the Rochelle, as many people have learned on it. The Wren is more recent, so their will be fewer comments to sift through. I'm assuming you have decided on an Anglo system concertina then? The 30 button "C/g" Anglo (such as the two instruments mentioned above) is the most common choice for Irish trad but since you just said concertina and didn't specify, just be aware that there are others such as the English and several Duet systems. Each has different advantages, but don't want to be surprised, if you didn't know. A good vintage instrument is a joy to play, but will likely require some maintenance. (not as hard as it sounds) A bad used instrument will require frequent repairs, and may not ever be playable. You are not likely to ever find a good vintage 30 button instrument for $500 dollars. You just might find a nice vintage 20 button instrument at that price, but even that is somewhat rare. The 20 button only offers the notes in two home keys (most often one row in "C" and the other "g" one fifth higher). It is more versatile than you might think, and I love mine, but it doesn't offer the all important C# for playing in the key of "D". I found my 20 button instrument while living in England, where there are more vintage concertinas played and still available. ( I still love it, but have since added a 26 button to gain additional notes/play in more keys.) I'm guessing that you are in the USA because you quote your price range in dollars, so that makes finding any good vintage instrument even less likely at a low price. The good news is that the modern instruments like those you are looking at are less expensive here. Note that the purchase price of the Rochelle can be considered a down payment toward a higher end modern instrument. Concertina Connection offers credit for the full price of their Rochelle toward their upgraded instruments (Minstrel, Clover, Wakker) http://www.concertinaconnection.com/rochelle anglo.htm and the Button Box offers credit for the full price of a Rochelle from them toward their upgraded instruments (Ceili, ESB) https://www.buttonbox.com/new-concertinas.html It appears that McNeela music also offers trade-in credit toward their upgraded models (Swan, Phoenix) although I'm not certain of the details. https://mcneelamusic.com/beginner-concertinas/ I have also seen mention of the "Tina" from the Irish Concertina Company, in your price range, but I have not heard much about them. They also offer some upgraded models. (Swift, Clare, "Vintage", Eiru) https://irishconcertinacompany.com/ I would guess either of the two you were looking at already would be a good start. The Rochelle has been around longer so it has a better known track record, but the Wren looks similar. What you don't want to do is buy a cheap knock-off instrument, as are often available on E-bay, or a broken wreck. (Good concertinas on E-bay are rare, and any of quality are usually mentioned on this site too.) I'm not mentioning several excellent builders because they are out of your current price range. Go ahead and get one of these starter instruments and once you fall in love with the concertina then take another look around when you want more. Have fun!
  5. I'm not seeing this advert. Who is JK / John ?
  6. From your description, you have a C/g Anglo. Therefore you (probably) have a couple of options, if you are willing to cut from another note on the same side as that G under the left index finger in the C row: 1) The B 2nd from the top on the left in the G row 2) If you have a 26 - button or more instrument, then there likely is an A reversal on the push, on the left, 2nd from the top in the "Accidentals" row. Either of those require that the middle finger be available though, which will depend upon what note precedes the G you wish to cut toward. 3) Another option would be to play the G in the left-middle of the G-row, cutting down from either of the mentioned notes above, although this is easy cutting down from the B. This choice would depend upon what finger will be needed for the following note. A completely different approach would be to play the A on the draw with a little hiccup in the bellows motion, then keep the same button down to play the G on the push. This can also work if the preceding note was on the draw, and you just press the button with your index finger the tiniest bit early to get that hint of A before compressing the bellows to get the G. This will clearly NOT sound the same as cutting on the Flute, but that is the point. In certain places the rhythmic bounce produced can fit the music in a way unlike anything the Flute would produce, so it can be part of the peculiar charm of playing a bellows instrument.
  7. Playing the same melody along with the voice does risk muddling the sound a bit, making it more difficult for listeners to hear the words. Instead, I sometimes play through the melody just on the concertina for a verse and chorus, then sing unaccompanied on the verses and the first time through the chorus, then play along on subsequent choruses. (particularly in a situation where other people are joining in on the choruses, such as a shanty.) Then I perhaps play through the melody of the verse again with just the concertina somewhere in the middle, if the piece warrants it, and play verse and chorus again at the end. This is a good test of whether you can hold your pitch without dropping after singing a few verses! Not exactly what you were asking, and I play Anglo, not English, but hopefully useful. If you can play softly enough, then playing the melody while singing can work, but be sensitive that while you know the words, the listeners don't yet, so you need to sing out, and clearly. Even better if you can weave a counter-melody instead of playing the same main melody as your voice. Such a counter-melody can then be played along with the main melody for any instrumental bits too, if you are up to playing both together, but the combination will likely be too much to sing against. Sorry no specific examples to offer. Perhaps try playing the tenor lines in Christmas hymns while singing the melody to get an idea of the style?
  8. Does look like a Stagi bass, and in grave danger below the dart board, if the huge dart stuck in the table is representative. (Not to mention the axe stuck in the wall above it!) I agree people have been drunk here plenty of times, but pirates? I'm thinking hunters/fishermen, or possibly lumberjacks. I'm trying to reconcile the location - The skis suggest somewhere in the north, the higher mountainside seen through the window appears dusted with snow, but the trees are green and the water isn't frozen. Moose and fish trophies also look like from Northern USA or Canada, but could have been acquired there and brought in. The bird on the chair looks tropical, although could be a pet out of the cage. That spider is huge, so also tropical, and the bird is at risk! The plate of chicken and waffles on the table suggests southern USA, although I've not seen that served with just a large spoon before. Not even there.
  9. I don't play melodeon, or even have a G/d concertina, but it seems what you really want is something with fingering that is similar to both a D/G "English" melodeon , and a C#/D "Irish" Melodeon, so why not arrange the rows in a pattern to mimic these? If I understand the note positions of the two melodeons then what seems the closest match would be: The outer row where a concertina normally has accidentals, would be equivalent to the G row on a standard G/d concertina The middle row would be equivalent to the D row on a Baritone GD, so an octave lower than a standard G/d concertina (and a fourth lower than the G row, like a melodeon, instead of a fifth higher like a concertina) The inner row would be the C# row, set a half step lower than that baritone D row. It would likely need to be sized like a Baritone Anglo, since 2 of the 3 rows would be in the baritone range. I'm thinking of a 30 button box, so 3rd button start on each row and only 10 buttons per row, although you could add more. Perhaps this was one of your earlier iterations? My suggestion basically has the order of the rows the other way around from what you show. My suggestion would still not be at all familiar to Anglo concertina players, but the cross row technique between the middle and outer rows would be familiar to a D/G melodeon player, and cross row technique between the middle and inner rows would be familiar to a C#/D melodeon player. Such an instrument would still be difficult for anyone else to use if they play concertina, but perhaps melodeon players would take to it? Two difficulties I can see (besides the custom construction) would be that the outer row can be a bit hard to reach for some people, which is acceptable in an accidental row, but might be awkward for the G row. If that is a concern it will be true for SOME row no matter what button arrangement you choose. The other thing is the lateral offset from one row to the next on the right hand would be the other way from what you would find in the upper range of the melodeon keyboard. Easily overcome, but just a bit less familiar, in an instrument purpose built to be familiar to a melodeon player. I see that you have addressed this a little bit in the diagram above in the way the G and D rows are staggered, but I'm not quite following your logic on some of the buttons under the right hand index finger.
  10. For possible USA sources: Dana Johnson (in Maryland) who kindly replied above Greg Jowaisis (Kentucky) Bob Tedrow (Alabama) the Buttonbox (Sunderland Massachusetts, near Amherst) which likely is closest to you. All of them deal in new and/or used concertinas, and perform concertina repairs. Greg was able to source two original Jones reeds for me several years ago from his stock when I wanted a couple of notes swapped, but the instrument was already in his shop at the time, which allowed him to verify the fit. I appreciate that you likely are capable of some maintenance and repairs yourself, but you may find that taking your instrument to any of these for a bit of professional attention might help resolve whatever issues that troublesome reed is presenting, and possibly avoid the need for a replacement? Or at least allow for a confirmed fit of an available replacement reed if needed, and also provide a once-over look towards preventing any other future problems. Or if do you want to consider a second concertina again, with steel reeds for sessions/performance, I expect any of them would have available something to tempt you.
  11. Often new players want the straps tight to try to get a feeling of control, but that restricts movement and makes it hard to reach some of the buttons. I did it myself for a while. What seems to work better for me now is to make contact with the instrument in two places with each hand - the side of the thumb and the outer edge of my hand against the hand rest. I set my straps so I can arch my hand slightly, and create a slight tension in the strap against back of my hand. Most of the palm of my hand doesn't actually rest against the wooden rest. This way I can move the ends in and out without slop in the straps, yet a slight change in the arch of my hand creates enough slack to allow me to move to access any hard to reach buttons. There is a temptation to keep my hands very tense to keep the straps taught, but that is very tiring. By periodically concentrating on consciously relaxing, I've found after a while that I can reduce the tension in my hands dramatically and still maintain full control. But I still have to remind myself to relax. None of this came right away. I started out setting the straps very tight, and have only gradually worked to be come accustomed to the relaxed strap setting described above. There is a limit of course. When the straps are too loose to create any tension against the back of a fairly relaxed hand, then there is really no control at all! Edit: Some people also add some padding to the wooden rest to raise the hand slightly. I've not tried that but it makes sense. Also, I'm intrigued by the shaped hand rests offered by a few builders, such as the "ergonomic" hand rests offered as an option by Jake, of Wolverton Concertinas. I've not tried them, but one of my instruments has a slight relief to the edge of the hand rest where the side of my hand makes contact, and I do find that is more comfortable.
  12. Strongly recommend buying a copy of "The Concertina Maintenance Manual" by David Elliott. Excellent advice with description and photos, and it even seems to focus primarily on the English Concertina, just like what you now own. To answer your question on how to get to the reeds: You remove those 6 screws from one end, one in the middle of each edge, and gently lift off the wooden end. That exposes the action pan, with all the buttons and levers, and pads. This is then gently lifted out to get to the reed pan. Half of the reeds will then be visible, and you can gently pull out the reed pan to see the other half. There will be a hole in the reed pan to help in removing it. I emphatically suggest that you only remove one end at a time, and also be sure to put everything back carefully in the same orientation. Probably best not to leave the ends apart for an extended time either, or the reed pan or action pan can warp due to changes in humidity. There are others here who can tell you a lot more, including Mr. Elliott himself.
  13. I don't have this CD but I'm told he sings the new version on his 2004 CD "Ranter's Wharf" which also includes the title track. So not quite as recent as I had thought! His website indicates this can be purchased directly by contacting him, and he has at least two CDs since then. http://www.johnconolly.co.uk/merchandise.html
  14. To be fair, I got my spelling online too. "Connolly" was used as often as "Conolly" but the latter came from what appeared to be his own website. When we saw him perform a few years ago, he had recently written several new verses to "Fiddler's Green" but I don't have them.
  15. John's last name is spelt "Conolly" and he is indeed a fine fellow, as well as a fine musician/author/composer. Saw him perform maybe 5 or 6 years ago at Ellesmere Port, and also again in Edgworth.
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