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Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posts posted by Łukasz Martynowicz

  1. The process of French Polish I was taught goes like this:

    - first you prime with undiluted solution, wait 24hrs, lightly sand with fine grade steel wool and then rub filler into the pores with another coat of undiluted shellac and sand again

    - you then proceed to put on layers of gradually thinner dilution, starting with half up to 1/8 or even 1/16 for the last few

    - oil is there to ensure no friction of your pad. You add only a tiny amount to later layers, but since it is pure lineseed oil it will harden along with resin. Since concertinas are so small, it is not really needed, because you’ll still have a fresh load on your pad at the end of the current layer. You basically make one or two quick swipes and then wait for the layer to solidify for an hour or two.


    Final coat thickness is too low to even out pores, so no, even 30 layers is not enough to ensure glossy finish without filler. 

    If however a satin finish is the goal, it is way faster and simpler to apply shellac with flat, soft brush.

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  2. My personal experience is that concertina dB measured at 1m, exceeding 90dB hurt my ears. I think this is mostly about the energy caried by higher partials, because higher reeds hurt more and bass reeds don’t hurt no matter the meter readout. The box I made had very open fretwork originally and had to be baffled with carefully designed irregular baffle to cut those partialls. I first cut those and then continued with refinement of the baffle and then corrected padhole diameter to lower and even out the perceived loudness (perceived loudness differs greatly from measured loudness, so low reeds measure at different dB levels than high reeds).

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  3. 5 hours ago, luli said:

     I find that someone will change their handle.  But most of the people use the common handle。 Is it necessary for the big duet   Concertina player?


    You can see my custom handle design here. I give a detailed breakdown of how it works in a next post and you can see it in action a page earlier. The reason I made it, is because I wanted to play chord rhythms everywhere on the keyboard and minor chords on a Hayden force the hand into position that makes playing steady rhythms with a hand strap difficult, especially with fingers as long as mine.

    Is it necessary? Well, no, Bandoneon players play with stock handstraps on 71 button instruments. Is it helpful? Yes, certainly. 

    There is also another reason people swap traditional handles on even small concertinas. Many people have problems with their wrists and traditional handles forces the hand into position that exacerbate the problem.

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  4. Concertinas are loud. Very loud, which is then amplified by playing inside small rooms. I had to cover my CC Elise's "fretwork" with EVA foam inserts to stop my ears hurting after just a couple of tunes into practice session, because it peaked at >100dB, with >90dB being the norm. When creating my current box I designed it so it has ~70dB at typical pressure.

    What you can do, is install EVA foam baffle under the fretwork. You only need a thin line (around 1mm) of opening around the perimeter of the baffle for reeds to get enough air.

    If you don't want to modify your concertina from the inside, you can simply tack a cutout from the foam for practice sessions from the outside. It will not be pretty, but it will work if it is near airtight. Other than that, you can play outside. Concertinas project the sound sideways, away from the player. Playing outside, away from solid walls, no sound bounces back to you. 

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  5. 51 minutes ago, RAc said:

    I believe the above subclause is more or less the key - "the right tool for the right job." With my "bread and butter repertoire," there are considerable advantages to reducing the number of buttons, for both logistic (weight and size) and playability (reduction of getting lost potential) reasons, acknowledging that your mechanical immobilization device may or may not relieve my "getting lost problem," but I need the mobility for sound effect generation reasons.


    So to summarize, may I quote you from your earlier contrib in this thread:


    "It all boils down to desired repertoire really. If you want to play rich accordion-like arrangements or classical music, larger box is better. If you want to play mostly trad music, smaller box will likely be enough and come in a lightweight and small package."



    You are very right of course. I just wanted to comment on my "mechanical immobilization device" here - only the tip of the thumb is immobilised completely, the rest of the thumb movement is restricted to a single plane, and the rest of the hand has more freedom, than on an English with pinky rest. I don't know any technique, neither fingering nor bellows, that is impaired by this "device".

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  6. 8 hours ago, seanc said:

    I am definitely finding quite a lot of times where due to lacking lows. And then inverting chords. I am running the left hands chords into the melody line. Or just as often, I am diving onto the left side I find myself diving onto the left side to complete right hand chords.



    …and to complete melody as well. This is the second biggest annoyance with to few buttons - when you play a steady rhythm on the LH but must interrupt it or grow new fingers for those few odd melody notes that go below C4… One of the tunes I play is „Two guitars”, where melody line goes up to D6 and down to A3. Same with the „Riverside” mentioned above, down to A3… Or another tune, „Last Waltz” from Oldboy movie, where on 46b I’m missing just a single Eb4 on the RH. I can dive in on the LH for those, but at the expense of accompaniment fluidity. 

    With my desired repertoire there is simply no such thing as „too many buttons”.


    And a word about getting lost - this is where my rigid thumb „thimble” and antler handling system beats both handstrap and thumbstrap/wrist strap solutions - it has no play, what you feel on your palm, together with the angles in the thumb give you absolute positioning. I’m only having some troubles with a single, really long jump from Eb to G#, everything else is precise enough.

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  7. 3 hours ago, seanc said:

    There are all valid considerations .


    but IMO. Hands down the biggest advantage to more buttons is if you are reading and playing from a sheet is to be able to play as written. and there is far less chance of getting lost as you are not trying to transpose on the fly.

    There are many instances where I find a 5-1-3, moving to a 1-3-5 and then 3-5-1. Or 7-1-3, 7-1-4 to 7-1-5. Places where flipping just does not sound right. And numerous times where doing a walk down is what you really need  5,4,3,2,1 not 5,4,3,9,8.



    Exactly this. With less buttons I often had to move entire accompaniment up an octave to preserve those walkdowns, but it often comes with it’s own can of worms. Inversions also can go so close to the melody line, that a perfectly good large interval becomes too dissonant to work well, so you have to cut down. Because of this I will probably build an even larger box (in some rather distant future), going all way down to C2. I simply hate incomplete accompaniments. 

    But I agree, that this kind of box would be unsuitable for typical concertina trad genres.


    @gcarrere I agree, that larger boxes are more static bellows movement wise, but you can very much compensate for that with more dynamic fingerings, especially on LH side, BUT it requires dropping a traditional handstrap for more ergonomic handling system, that allows for independent wrist movement. After all, accordions, which are way heavier and more cumbersome than concertinas are perfectly capable of really dynamic play. 

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  8. 3 hours ago, TinkerPhil said:

    Wow a cornucopia of different observations - and your reward?  More questions 😀


    Hayden?  Is that a method or a tutor? Sigh - I will google this too but I have other questions I want to ask!


    One day will I be playing chords on my concertina - and will they be 3 button chords?

    (I've tried and I do not seem to be able to use 1 finger to press two keys - let alone 3!  I play an English concertina- maybe chords are easier on an Anglo?)


    "Accompaniment"?  Are you playing the melody and the chords - ie up to 4 keys at a time?? Wow!

    (Actually that is so awesome I think I am slightly deflated I will never get to such dizzy heights)


    I will try and practise the "extension" trick - but it is my little fingers that hurt because they take much of the wright of my concertina - perhaps this is wrong.  Also, my concertine is a Concertina Connection Jackie and I'm beginning to realise it is rather heavy!



    Like David wrote, Hayden is a type of duet concertina layout, which is very chord and music theory centric. It is way harder to play accompaniment and melody simultaneously on an English. 


    1 hour ago, David Barnert said:

    I hope not. Except on rare occasions, play as few notes simultaneously as you can get away with. If the melody has the 3rd, leave it out of the chord. Play chord notes sequentially instead of simultaneously. See any of my YouTube videos for examples (I’m playing a Hayden).


    Well, in my case "as few as you can get away with" typically means 2-3 notes at once, but the number of simultaneous notes I play heavily depends on what exactly I play and what I want to achieve. So, if I play a moody tune, like Agnes Obel's Riverside, then verses indeed have alternating single note accompaniment, but the chorus has a 1+2 rhythm on the LH, because 1+1 rhythm is just too thin. If I play a rock cover/accompaniment, then I can go with as many as 6 simultaneous notes to achieve the required punch. Same goes for polyphony pieces - I currently learn a piece which peaks at 5 simultaneous lines, one of which is a high drone. BUT, and it is a big but, I do high number of simultanous notes only on my big box, where those notes are spread over three or four octaves. On a 46b it is indeed hard not to drown RH with the LH, as on many occasions accompaniment will overlap in the same octave as the melody.

  9. 2 hours ago, gcoover said:

    From my experience with various sizes of Jeffries Duets, the smaller ones are much more nimble, the larger ones more stately - think motorboat versus ocean liner. 


    More buttons give you more range, but take a hard look to see if you actually need that additional range. For example, on the music I play on my English concertina, I never play the higher squeaky buttons so they just sit there pretty much unused.




    I don't know about other systems, but with Haydens buttons are extended downwards and sideways, and very little upwards. That is you get lower notes and more accidentals/enharmonics/overlap. The highest note available is F6, on Wakker H-2, while the highest note on a "standard" is D6. My large box goes from F2 to E6 and I could use couple of bass notes more and those four Ab links I'm missing.

    It all boils down to desired repertoire really. If you want to play rich accordion-like arrangements or classical music, larger box is better. If you want to play mostly trad music, smaller box will likely be enough and come in a lightweight and small package.


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  10. To what David wrote, I would only add, that heavier and larger box isn’t a straightforward disadvantage. I have two boxes: 8 2/3” 66b button heavy one and 7” 45b featherlight one. The larger one is way easier to play accordion arrangments on, because heavier means sturdy and LH side simple doesn’t move at all. This makes large jumps between chords way easier. Also - larger diameter bellows indeed requires a bit more effort to move, but also provides enormous amounts of air. I don’t have to think about phrase lengths and reversal points at all on my big box, because phrases are typically way shorter than my bellows travel and there is always a margin left. I can also feed large chords or four note legato poliphony without any problems. 

    From my perspective the main disadvantage is price, and second important disadvantage is reduced portability. They are still smaller than melodeons, but significantly harder to travel with.

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  11. 3 hours ago, DaveRo said:

    Unless I misunderstand binaural recording, the 'dummy head' used for the recording is in a fixed position. The listener will only hear the effect of moving around if the head moved around. Which would be disconcerting if the listener is sitting still.


    The point, surely, of binaural recording is fidelity of the sound heard by a (single) member of the audience. Whether a solo concertina should be recorded 'faithfully' - or whether it would sound 'better' recorded in mono is quite another question. As well as the sound coming out of both ends, on my duet the left is much louder.


    (And it occurs to me that an active sound-cancelling speaker might be an alternative to a baffle to quieten the accompaniment from the point of view - or hearing - of me, the player. I expect it's been tried.)



    This was just an analogy trying to illustrate the level of sound scene detail achievable by binaural recording when compared to other methods. The main difference between binaural and stereo/dolby surround is that stereo/dolby try to reproduce the location of the sound source, while binaural recording tries to achieve „holographic” recording fidelity of phase shifts and volume differences at listener position so that our hearing sense can deconstruct directions faithfully. And it works. You hear exactly where the sound is coming from. If the recording is done in real environment, you also hear how exactly the sound bounces from the environment, which is the quality that all other methods lack (you only hear that it bounces, not how it bounces), giving you 3D space rendering that is comparable to „looking around the corner”, since hearing is not a synthesis of a series of 2D slices, like sight is, but an „everything at once” sense, that is then computationally deconstructed.

  12. 12 minutes ago, Richard Mellish said:

    My understanding of binaural recording is that it is intended as an improvement on conventional stereo recording, giving more realistic spatial imaging. Given the nature of a concertina, with sound coming out of the ends in opposite directions, I am somewhat bemused as to the virtue of any sterophonic imaging at all. With a Duet, or with an Anglo if playing mostly melody on one end and chords or harmonies on the other, a case could be made for allowing the listener to hear the two ends separately. With an English, or with an Anglo played in the Irish style, don't you want all the notes to seem to come from roughly the same place?


    I think the following analogy is a good one:
    - monophonic recording lets you look into the room from across the street - you see a flat image behind a window glass

    - stereophonic recording places you just outside the window, so you can get a better look, with some limited perspective, but you are still behind the glass
    - surround systems put you on a chair inside the room, but you can only look around a bit

    - binaural recording let you move around the room freely and closely examine everything, but at the same time exaggerates everything in a kind of hangover intensity

  13. As a Hayden player myself and a former Elise player, I can vouch for the system, but would advice for careful study if Elise has the notes you need. I have used it for a mix of trad, rock and accordion covers, but it is very limited. It is however good enough as a learning box. You can also easily use it with a makeshift thumb strap due to how hand straps are designed and how the screws are made, so it can be easily adjusted for wrist problems. 

    And regarding availabilty of 46+ boxes, things might change in not so distant future, so if you like the logic of Haydens, go with it. You can always trade both Elise and Stagi and English is a poor choice for rock covers.


    One last word of advice - if you get Elise, get some 1mm EVA foam sheet from crafts store as well and make foam inserts for Elise’s „fretwork”. It is a very loud instrument with piercing tone, that made my healthy ears hurt. The EVA modification is fully reversible, straightforward and efficient with both softening the tone and reducing volume.

  14. 10 hours ago, aeolina said:

    I found this in a Google search. Not sure what is happening here other than two traditional stereo recording set ups.


    The dummy or real head in the middle shields microphones from sounds coming from the other side, separating channels, but what is even more important, physical spacing and fields of microphones in binaural setup match natural ones, so it reproduces spatial distribution of sound sources perfectly. This creates effect of physical presence. This is why binaural recordings should be listened via headphoned and with your sight blocked (blindfolds work better than simply closed eyes, because closing eyes changes the context to „inner eye” while blindfolds allow you to keep looking but not seeing anything, increasing the strength of illusion).

  15. 5 minutes ago, David Barnert said:


    Listening to the examples with ear buds, what I hear sounds like exaggerated separation of the right and left sides, much more than what one would hear if listening directly.

    Read my reply above. Binaural recordings separate sides way more than they should for natural effect.

  16. A word of warning - binaural recordings can be epileptogenic. Binaural concertina recordings can be even more epileptogenic, because of the nature of free reed sound. If you have a history of neurological problems, do not listen to those recordings on headphones.

    The reason for that is that binaural recording separate sides more than in nature, as they do not take bone conductivity into account. Effectively, English concertina ornamentation in binaural recording is an equivalent of police car strobes. 

  17. 4 hours ago, Bassconcertina.net said:

    Thanks! I want to do it because a double action bass can be slow to speak and quiet compared to single action. I don’t have one yet but I’m curious.


    As Alex wrote, the main reason those are slow to speak and quiet is probably that chambers are too short. You need a lot of length between the tip of the tongue and the padhole to improve that, like 200-250% of the tongue length. Setting of the reed and stiffness of the valve may also play a role, but to lesser extent. Increasing stiffness of the valve above what ensures airtightness only increases the pressure offset required to operate the reed - the attack of the reed may be steeper, but it will operate only if you push bellows harder. Plastic valves do not really work with bass reeds, because the larger/stiffer plastic valve is, the more noisy it is.

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  18. 1 hour ago, Don Taylor said:



    Did you do this on both sides of the concertina?  Maybe both at the same time?


    On both. First in octaves, to get accustomed with the difference in fingerings of the same chord on LH and RH. Then with different mixes of oom-pahs and arpeggios - simultaneous different articulations of the same chord on LH and RH. Then transitions only on the RH while sticking to oom-pahs on the LH. The goal of all of this was to be able to play easily in "bonefire guitar" style, as back then I focussed mostly on accompaniment for pop/rock tunes. The revelation about how melody emerges from harmony was an unexpected byproduct of those excercises. In the end, on a day with a good "flow" I was able to freely improvise within a chord structure. But that was before my 4 years break. Nowadays, I stick to "as written" pieces mostly, but those old skills help greatly when learning new accompaniments.

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  19. 2 hours ago, bellowbelle said:

    I first played by ear, then gradually learned to read music to the point that I can sightread enough.  Two different processes for sure.  So, when trying to learn a tune I use both ways together.  I fumble along through the dots on a page, usually taped to my cupboard right in front of my chair.  And, along with that, I create or download a primitive file like an easy midi (.mid) to listen to every now and then throughout the day.  I keep the midi on my phone's homescreen, and delete it once I've got the tune in my head. 


    BUT -- that said -- one other really helpful thing (in my opinion) is to determine the chord progression of the song you want to get into your memory.  If that's an option....because I know not everyone wants to bother with chords.  Create a simple lead sheet and indicate where the chord changes are, above the measures.  Don't need to write out all the notes...just need to know where the chord changes are.  (A song like Hark The Herald Angels has a chord progression, though it's true that some traditional tunes don't really have "chords." )


    When I was learning to play the accordion as a child (never got very pro), my teacher did not really read music and we used simple lead sheets all the time.  Just the measures with a time signature, the slashes indicating beats in the measures, and the chord symbols above the measures.  The tune was mainly just in my head.  It was helpful to see that melodies usually had simple chord structures and repetitions. 


    When I started learning Hayden, because of how this layout has music theory embedded very directly in the button grid, I found out that it was way easier for me to get accustomed with common melody phrases by playing chords instead. The method was this - I first practiced simple 2/4 and 3/4 tempo oom-pahs of common three/four chord patterns until I could unconsciously move hands to root positions. Then practiced different arpeggio patterns of those chord progressions, and finally moved to linking those arpeggios or oom-pahs with different transitions. This approach really tought me how melody is constructed from harmony and then I already had many common melody patterns already trained in my muscle memory. A second thing about chords - I only get the flow of the tune right when I finally merge accompaniment sucessfully with the melody line. This is why I usually try to learn both simultaneously. It is hard and awkward at first to control both tasks at the same time, and remember what each hand is supposed to do, but it is even harder for me to add accompaniment to a fully smooth melody later on.


    And a word about muscles - the single best and eye opening tip I ever got from a seasoned piano player was that music is played with your finger’s extension muscles, not flexion muscles. This is because we don’t really use them in everyday tasks, so they can be trained for speed, timing precision and endurance much better than flexion muscles. So @OP - when you end a session with tired fingers focus on which groups of forearm muscles hurt - if those are outer muscles, then it is normal and you just have to train more. If those are inner muscles, then you need to relax your grip and focus on lifting your fingers in rhytm instead of pressing in rhytm and let the residual tension of the hand press buttons for you.  So, a neutral position when you strap in should be with buttons pressed, not hovering comfortably above. You then „prime” your fingers by lifting them. 

  20. My mind has a very clear separation between "play from the sheet" and "play from memory". If I stick with "play from the sheet" for too long when learning a tune, I must then spend a whole lot of time "transcribing" it from paper to memory and disconnecting the tune from the sheet. Also, even if I know a tune by heart from listening to it and I can whistle it freely, I cannot play it from ear, my mind just doesn't work that way - moving fingers is not something my mind intuitively connects with the music I hear in my mind. 


    So if you want to be able to play everything without sheets, my advice is this - decipher the tune from the sheet, phrase by phrase, but then repeat those phrases solely from memory. Stick to the shortest phrase possible and repeat it until one of two things happen - you can play it couple of times in a row without fumbling, or you start to fumble in places you thought you know already. Then stop and take another phrase, from a different tune even, and try to learn that. After you can no longer play even the shortest new phrase without fumbling it badly, play something you know well and end your session. 15 minutes every day is way better than an hour every couple of days. Also, I learn the fastest if I try to learn couple of tunes at once. Your session should look like this - play a tune or two you play well as a starter, then try to learn/practice couple of phrases that are new, then end your session with a tune you play well, this may even be the same tune you opened your session with. If you can't play your "starter tunes" smoothly/don't feel the music that day, then do not play at all at this moment. Play later or next day. This is so you don't imprint mistakes into your muscle memory and you don't feel frustrated about playing. 

  21. 58 minutes ago, Greg Mirken said:

    Is it more pop covers ye want, then? Here’s a set that begins with the Galician tune A Bruxa, into Stairway to Heaven, finally to Emma’s Waltz. As a young guitar shop proprietor I could never dream I might someday perform Stairway, but here it is. It’s really a beautiful, clever melody. We noticed how the harmonic structure fit so well into Emma’s. If others have covered popular melodies on concertina, let’s hear them.




    While played beautifully, most certainly popular and younger than classical music, I would like to point out however, that both Stairway To Heaven and Paint It Black are more than 50 years old now :D 

  22. 9 hours ago, Greg Mirken said:

    Hi. I play English concertina; no formal concertina lessons but I’ve learned a lot from the playing of Alistair Anderson. (I’ve also listened to Simon Thoumire and I just shake my head.) Before taking up concertina I played mandolin for many years. My group is called Three Times Through (get it?), based here in Northern California, in Nevada County. We started interspersing popular melodies with traditional tunes and noticed that it broadened our audience, and enhanced our tip jar. Sometimes there’s a musical justification, sometimes lyrical, sometimes just too much wine at rehearsal.

    Here’s a link to a recent live video- The White Petticoat/ Paint it Black/ O’Connel’s Welcome to Dublin (I think that’s its name)

    I hope you enjoy it.




    Increased audience because of covers of popular songs doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Since my first days of owning a concertina I firmly hold a belief, that what prevents concertinas from getting more recognition is sticking almost solely to trad or classic repertoire. Just look at the modern renaissance of accordion as a mainstream instrument - once it found it’s way into indie rock / folk rock / folk metal bands, there is no stopping it. We need more covers of popular music, more arrangements of game music and an overall modernisation of  repertoire. Even a single video going viral on YT can have a huge impact. Some time ago there was a game, „Sea of Thieves”. One of the goals in this game was collecting concertinas of various rarity. There were even posts on this forum looking for concertina arrangements of music from this game. Now go on YT and compare numbers of views and likes of various „Sea of Thieves” concertina covers and videos of even such talented trad players as Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne or Simon Thoumire. Or compare number of subscribers of Cohen or Simon with a guy called Concertina Joel, a channel with the most popular „Sea of Thieves” covers. 

    Lack of new talents and young players is a subject rised quite often here, usually attributed to high entry cost. But I think that antiquated and narrow repertoire is a way more important factor. Those cover videos have one thing in common - people have fun with cheapest concertinas, like Wren, Rochelle, Elise, or even cheap chineese boxes, and complain mostly at the lack of sheets for their instrument, not the quality of their instrument. 

    • Like 2
  23. 3 hours ago, RAc said:

    No reason to be sorry - on the opposite, thanks, this is still a good read! Also, in your last sentence, you raise a point that only Steve has taken up so far but that for me is a strong argument in favor of CMN (as well as any other notation systems that are key oriented): It helps my brain and fingers "lock into" the tonal sphere of the underlying scale. Iow, as soon as I see two sharps in the beginning of a piece written in CMN, I (more or less subconsciously) pre-sort the chord material I will most probably use into D-A-G-Bm-Em-F#m and the note material into the diatonic D major scale (or one its modal variants).


    Of course, this advantage disappears as the music heards towards atonality or heavily modulated, but at least for me, it applies to 99+x% of what I play.

    That gives me a head start right there, being a harmony oriented person (ie a guitar player turned concertina). I do not see how a notation system that does not hint you towards the underlying tonal sphere can provide so much support for sight reading. Unless, of course, one plays a fully transposing instrument in which the difference between key signatures is just a lateral shift of equal chord positions such as a Hayden - but I would expect such a "consistent" pairing (eg Parnassus and Hayden) to pose other problems such as the danger to end up in the wrong key in the middle of a session... 😉


    But again, that does not imply that alternative notation systems would be inferior, they certainly have their justifications and advantages, and I am happy for everybody whose road to music becomes easier with one of them.

    The thing is - most of chromatic notation systems can just as easily be used as key oriented (either by simply using key signatures or as I do, by colour coding accidentals, so one look at the score gives you all the information you want at a glance) as they can be used for chromatic or atonal music. With opposite approach such as CMN, making it work for atonal or simply chromatic music is an awkward and unreasonably complicated workaround.

  24. I would either use Titebond or Zucchini extra chiaro. The latter is a solvent glue that does not penetrate materials and sticks best to itself, so can be completely removed by reactivating it with a fresh coat of itself and lifting it up with a stick covered with a dried coat of even more of the same glue. I use it for pads, bushings and valves. 

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