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Łukasz Martynowicz

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Everything posted by Łukasz Martynowicz

  1. I don't know, if he's a proffesional, but he is damn good at playinng English concertina with fan-like bellows technique. Additionally, I believe he uses a tape to bind the bottom edges together. Why? Because if you look closely, this way he can play with eight fingers instead of just six, or even only four in case of the Wheatsone intended technique. So, as you can see, this absolutely makes a ton of sense. But I agree, that this is a dumb idea for an Anglo player to do so.
  2. Jackie uses accordion style bellows, that is inherently springy. It will ease a bit with time, but some of the springiness will always be present. On an English you are not restricted by note availability on push/pull, so just use shorter bellows phrasing. If you look at some top players out there, many of them use very short, fan like bellows articulation. Pretty much any higher tier concertina you’ll upgrade to in the future will have proper concertina bellows, which has little springiness, and the top ones have pretty much linear response up to nearly full extension.
  3. About harmonikas.cz reeds. The lower the class of the reed, the less air efficient and responsive reeds are - in terms of concertina building, this translates the most to how long single bellows direction phrases you will be able to play. So if you go for mechanika reeds, make the bellows with more folds. They also have less rich sound due to softer tongue steel used and have lesser tuning stability. Mechanika class is perfectly fine for a first time build, as you won't have to worry about destroying a top quality reed worth a quarter of the full mechanika set However, given that Tipo A Mano are only 50 euro for the set, I would highly recommend going straight for this class, as you don't really need classic accordion reeds of higher quality in a concertina. DIX reeds are a different breed and you pay premium for the brass frame/shoe sound - way more like traditional concertinas (or bandoneon if you go for the zinc plate option). They are pricy, but worth every cent.
  4. Regarding reeds for an Anglo, it will border on a miracle to source exactly what is needed from anything other than an Anglo. You not only need specific pairs of notes, you also need coherently sounding set, so mix-matching from different boxes will most probably result in quite chaotic timbre, response and volume. The easiest option would be to cut accordion reeds from two dry tuned M voices of one accordion to singe tongue reeds and build with that. Be aware, that building your own instrument from scratch is vastly different than restoring an old one. There are two layers of free reed inatrument construction. First one you can easily see, understand, copy or design - the material/mechanical layer. It is not harder than any other wood-, metal- and leather- working in similar scale and with Anglos it is also relatively not very time consuming. But… You are pretty much guaranteed to build a poor sounding, unbalanced box the first time you do it, because understanding of the invisible aspect of free reed instruments - the acoustics, can only be learned by experience. My advice here is - build slightly oversized endboxes and bellows, and design the interior in a way that allows repeated rebuilding and refitting of the reedpan. Preferably also re-designing and refitting the fretwork. This will allow you to re-iterate your design and fix inevitable sound-impacting mistakes/bad choices without the need to build multiple whole instruments.
  5. I suspected, that it'll be the answer. Rochelle uses accordion style bellows, which is a folded carboard that has innate springiness to it. It will get a bit less springy with time, but it will never be a linear, no bounce-back experience of traditional concertinna bellows. But, as I wrote earlier - your brain will adapt to this.
  6. What concertina do you have? Because that sounds like you have an accordion style bellows, which is seriously tight.
  7. Two separate questions are being conflated to one in some of the answers above: „what is the useful language to describe the timbre” and „how and by what the actual timbre is created”. The second one is quite „easy”, with the answer being „by everything”:D The first one is a trickier one, because we don’t really perceive the timbre objectively. Not only from person to person, but also between pitches, even within a single instrument. I don’t have absolute pitch hearing. Feed me pure sines and I can only tell you a general octave. Give me some time with a specific instrument, and I’ll tell you the notes, because with enough practice I can recognise the individual character of each note. So, when describing the timbre, IMHO the best way is not to try to take the timbre apart into small pieces like bright, mellow, muddy, round etc… because those are useful only in a relative context: this specific concertina has a mellower tone, than that specific concertina, etc, because you’re merely labeling some audibly different qualities to another person who can also clearly hear them. You might as well say „this concertina’s timbre is more red and the other one has a colder tone” and you will be understood. A better approach is the same, that is used to describe accordion registers: by invoking the general impression of another instrument. I’m currently restoring a 70 years old accordion. It has three voices, two of which have reeds in brass frames, one has aluminum frames. The differences are clearly audible between them - one invokes memory of an organ flute stop in the upper range and leans toward a bassoon in the lower range, and the second one clearly sounds trumpet-like. That is until my wife takes out her trumpet, then it sounds nothing like a trumpet. Same goes for the other voice. I have a virtual organ set up around Organteq software. Flute and bassoon stops are not even the same family of stops and both sound completely different than my accordion. One last example: as with any accordion, I can also mix voices. A mix of the basoon one with a third one, also a „trumpet-like brass” but detuned by 20 cents, commonly named „sax”, has a timbre that can be best described as a creepy circus, and I can bet most of you have now a very adequate impression of this timbre in your heads
  8. The asymmetry of the force you work the bellows is normal, as is the change of the force as the bellows extends towards it’s limit. The bellows will get softer a bit with time. However, it sounds like you are pulling and pushing too hard. Reeds need unintuitively small amount of airflow and pressure to speak. You will learn to adjust to this unconsiously by ear, and the best excercise is to play as quiet as you can manage. Preferably a slow tune played legato, so you have to manage the air perfectly to fit the phrasing.
  9. This happens mostly at the early stages of learning how to play, when you are generally less conscious of what exactly happens. My advice is to play offending passages a lot, lot slower and repeatedly in the proper neighbouring context until you no longer make this mistake.
  10. Looks like he has simply looped and sewn the end of the handstrap to create a fixed diameter loop. It would be easier to suggest a solution if you can provide a picture of your handrests.
  11. What you're really asking is not which side to support, but which to immobilise. Duets are best played seated and fully supported, bandoneon style, with straps as loose, as you can manage to still controll the instrument properly. Take a look at Didie Sendra (https://www.youtube.com/@Soloduet0703), IMHO the best Hayden player out there. He started with only the right side supported, then experimented with center support and fan-like bellows articulation, but nowadays he supports both ends, with the preference of lifting the left side if the need arises (articulation, fully closing the bellows, etc...). Aidas Rusa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb-C_sZFnsQ) also supports his box on both ends, with his right side being fully fixed. I on the other hand (https://www.youtube.com/@desnou/videos), play with the left side fixed, as it makes oom-pahs easier, but rarely ever lift the right side, only for extreme extension or bellows effects like vibrato etc. When I do lift it, the direction of articulation (with the gravity or against the gravity) depends on the side of the keyboard the passage is played, that is, is it in flat keys or sharp keys or the center of the keyboard - whichever way is the most comfortable to play. When I played Elise I also experimented with the neck and shoulder strap (as seen in my two Elise videos). Currently I use a completely custom handling system, that has no strap at all. With the Elise, you can experiment with the thumb strap, just set the straps loosely and put your thumb in the small loop. I found this to be a superior way to handle this instrument, as it allows for way easier use of pinky. You can also see this in my Elise videos. George from "George plays music" YT channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_4Bfk1ere4) [edit: the rest of this sentence somehow vanished...: "...also modified his handrests with thumb spacer/holder for easier control." One last tip - remember, that your unused fingers can assist with the bellows movement and stability. Don't be affraid to put fingers down onto the endplate when necessary/convenient. You'll be able to use even looser strap with this kind of finger support.
  12. And I thought I was imagining thing when I recognised some of the characteristic phrasing and expression styles of his.
  13. There are two main reasons for adjusting padhole size: volume adjustment and pitch stability. The problem starts around F3 and increases significantly below C3, when reed size starts to grow rapidly. Large reeds need a very stable and sufficient airflow, otherwise they will be very prone to pitch bend when overdrawing the bellows. This behaviour can be used deliberately, but above certain level of fragility of pitch it becomes impossible to use those low notes, as their behaviour becomes too erratic. Just few days ago I learned, that some people exploit this trait for bassoon register on accordions, by altering how much this register opens up. Now the flipside is, that the bigger the hole, the louder the sound. My big box is balanced for 80dB, which is low for a concertina (CC Elise peaks at more than 100dB when overdrawn, 90-100dB at normal pressure. So for the lower reeds a balance between stability of tone and volume of the lower reeds had to be established carefully, so they don't overpower everything else (F2 and G2 especially).
  14. Either I don't understand your answer, or you didn't understand the question. You do experiment with those parameters every time you design a new box. Padhole aperture vary within a single instrument for the reasons I mentioned above. Perhaps you're thinking too big? We're talking about just milimeter differences in aperture. In my big box I actually made my bass reeds' holes too small at first, then re-bore them too big, so had to print inserts to reduce them again. I also had to remake some levers and even move one reed further away (which required reshuffling two others), because the lever was to short to lift the now bigger pad high enough to achieve full airflow and sound projection.
  15. See my post above - there are many parameters affected by padhole diameter and lift, all at once, differently for different pitch ranges.
  16. That’s why I wrote „lowest tension that still keeps the pads closed under normal push force”. I can get away with lower tension, because my lever-button joint being completely unrestricted does not add to action resistance, and large bellows cross section lowers the pressure. About „higher tension makes closing of the pads faster”. That is true, but at the same time it increases necessary muscle tension and fatigue, resulting in slower play. For me, buttons should resist only so much, that you can „prime” the note. After switching to my big box I had quite long adjustment period, because Elise has 3x higher button force and I was constantly triggering notes too early. I’m also the „lifting finger to play” kind of player, so buttons should activate on simply releasing the extension muscles of the fingers. Regarding pad lift, diameter, airflow and sound projection. This is tricky and gets even trickier for lower reeds, especially on „singing accompaniment”, lower volume instruments. Action chamber height affects tibre and volume, so there may be limitations in how high your lift can be, padhole aperture affects both volume and pitch stability, and you have to balance relative volume of low, mid and high reeds. As a result, it’s a puzzle of compromises, and action’s speed is just one of the possible goals here.
  17. Exactly. Flush buttons „accordinify” the experience without the need for larger button diameter, and that is in my opinion a very good thing. I play some tunes that would be way, way harder to play with classic, protruding buttons.
  18. Well, no. Flush buttons should best be viewed as completely different keyboard design, not simply shorter buttons. The experience and techniques on both types differ greatly. The simplest example - slide. On protruding keyboard, with 6mm diameter buttons, you have to overcome a dent in your fingertip from pressing the first button, the valley between buttons, both adding greatly to the friction of the move, especially with flat top buttons, and only then you arrive at the rise of the second button. On a flush keyboard, there is only the rise of the second button, no fingertip dent and no valley. On my Hayden I can perform slides in any direction, including those up a row, against the anatomic limitations of our fingers. Another example is finger substitution - you basically just put the second finger down beside the first while shifting fingers slightly. On protruding buttons you have to place your second finger slightly overlapping the first one and then quickly "skip" fingers, because you can't easily slide the second finger into position.
  19. My big box has what Alex called „low buttons” in the post above, with 3mm travel, 2:1 lift ratio and the lowest spring tension that still keeps the pads closed on the normal force push. They also have different costruction, with different button-lever interface and no button post. The result is silky smooth, absurdly responsive action, that was however absolute nightmare to set up properly. I can’t really imagine how lowering button travel would result in any significant speed increase if you lift your fingers way above the endplate when playing faster, centimeters above... What influences speed way more, is spring tension. You want buttons to resist your movement as little as possible, and it doesn’t really matter, if you play on 3mm travel concertina, or 6mm travel CBA. Personally, I’m a sworn advocate of low buttons and it’s of no surprise to me, that Alex’s clients were enthusiastic about them. They allow for very natural slides and finger substitutions, and because you rest your fingertip on large area when the button is fully depressed, 6mm buttons feel more like 15mm buttons on a CBA. The ease of slides also means, that when lifting a finger you’re already moving it sideways to the next note. Sinking flush means, that your fingertips are travel stops, so there is no need for felt dumpeners below the button, no bottoming noise and when playing fast your fingertips bounce back off the endplate, conserving energy. Normal non-flush buttons made my fingertips hurt after long practice session, low buttons never did. I can’t really think of any downside of this solution, except for increased wear of the endplate. Fingernails longer than 0mm will scratch the coating no matter what.
  20. @hjcjones I mentioned air button/lever in one of my posts. It is invaluable tool when you need to prime the bellows before long, polyphonic legato phrase. Boxes without air control are a complete deal breaker for me.
  21. I’m confused… The whole premise of this thread is the fact, that EC players do use the bellows differently, than Anglo players do, and have done so for the last 150 years. So the argument here can very easily be reversed - if it was as you argue, that it is teaching problem instead of instrument construction problem, no doubt different schools and techniques would emerge during that time. I started with an Anglo and then switched to Hayden after a year. I have never achieved similar enough level of bounciness on a duet, and I already had the bellows expression habits you argue EC/duet players don’t develop due to unisonority. All that with the same handstrap setup (later reinforced by additional thumbstrap for better bellows control). I agree, that bisonoric instruments force you to use bellows reversals from the get go, but it is not simply the case of „and unisonoric instruments don’t”. You have to achieve way higher levels of finger-wrist-hand coordination to pull off bounciness on unisonoric instrument. EC not only has a flawed handling interface, it also require more awkward and more varied hand positions for basic play. Cross row Anglo style is considered an advanced skill, but it is an entry requirement on a Hayden. Concertina types vary greatly in their core principles and ergonomics, and in consequence, the resulting sound.
  22. While I agree with the overal sentiment, I have to object to the notion, that the thumb in the strap is just a single point of contact - it is an axis of contact. Single axis and a single point is enough to define a plane, hence it is enough to ensure stability. That is however "in ideal mathematical conditions". The problem with traditional English handling design is that the thumbstrap has to be flexible to some extent, so you loose a well defined axis, and than pinky rest is an ergonomic nightmare, relying on your weakest finger to act against forces of the lower side of the bellows. This is why you're basically forced to use the bellows in a fan-like motion, hold the concertina pointing upwards or play seated and utilise lap friction. All of those problems can be solved with highly non-traditional solutions like my antlers, but those are not to everyone's liking. Most people are into concertinas for trad music after all. Moreover, most of ergonomy improving solutions require some degree of alteration to the box, risking destroying a valuable antique.
  23. Another two cents: the larger the Anglo is, the more it is possible to play in both bouncy and legato style, but due to the size increase, you loose some of the bounciness. Also, it requires more and more mastery to achieve this level of universality. The ultimate case is the largest „Anglo” of them all - the bandonion. Now back to Englishes. I get an impression, that this discussion focuses very much not on the Anglo vs English, but on the 30b anglo vs 48b treble English… I can’t imagine playing with any kind of dramatic bellows expression on a large, 60b+ concertina of any system without hand/wrist strap equivalent. You would inevitably end up with thumb injury. Even with a proper handling system, you will more probably invest your practice time in a proper snappy staccatto, than bellows pumping. Unless your repertoire is full of triplets, snappy button expression is more universal, than bellows pumping.
  24. I would only like to note, that objectively, due to the nature of bisonoric instrument, you can’t play legato on an Anglo if notes in the sequence require bellows reversal. No amount of practice can overcome free reed physics. Proper legato has to have tiny overlap of note duration. No matter how fast your bellows change is, you always introduce a pause, new note attack, and valve and action noises. This is why even on Englishes and duets bellows management is as important, as it is on the Anglo. I have a huge air supply on my big box, but nevertheless have to plan ahead before long legato polyphonic phrases. This is the reason why I have long and very accessible air lever instead of a simple air button.
  25. The finger locking principle of those antlers does not work if at least one of the sides is not axially immobilised - the concertina simply rotates outward on your thumb trying to fall off. But it doesn't have to be the lap that supports it, the same can be achieved with neck/shoulder strap that will counteract the forward roll. I used such strap for my "single serving" travel 45b. You simply have to attach the strap a bit to the front of the "thimble", the top edge screw was enough for this purpose. In this case the strap attachment point becomes a fulcrum, and your hand's weight pressing the thimble down locks the antler. Also, only a single side has to be strapped, I used only a LH shoulder loop, RH was unrestricted. As for this big box from the video above - it is way too heavy for me to play standing, as I have some serious problems with my cervical and thoracic spine.
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