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Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posts posted by Łukasz Martynowicz

  1. 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.

    • Like 1
  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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. 

  7. 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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  8. 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.

    • Like 1
  9. 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. 

  10. 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. 

  11. 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 

  12. 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
  13. 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.

  14. 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. 

  15. 4 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:


    I haven't personally compared them, but my understanding is that there's no difference aside from how the tongues are secured. I think the "original" shoes/frames would be attractive if you were planning to make your own tongues, since it would be easier to install them (and to taper the slot with no tongue installed).


    It is rather hard to make trapezoid tongues by hand... All concertina reeds have tongues simply cut from a longer strip of spring steel. But you're right about removing the tongue for tapering, I haven't thought of that. I wonder however if tapering trapezoid slot doesn't worsen the response and sound, since tapering performs the same duty as trapezoid shape.

  16. 29 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:


    Yup, this is accurate. I think there's a case to be made that, for most people, the "concertina original" reeds don't really have an advantage over their riveted "concertina" reeds. Even the DIX accordion reeds aren't supposed to differ in tongue/slot geometry from the concertina reeds, so the main reasons you might prefer the concertina reeds are the method of installation and the brass shoes.


    Dana Johnson has instructions for tapering the reed slots that he'll share if you ask him. I haven't tried it myself yet, so I can't comment on the effect.


    That is something I wondered myself - all brass DIX reeds are identical in tongue/slot geometry and materials. My brass DIX accordion are cheapest of the bunch, sound great and are relatively easy to design the reedpan for. "DIX concertina" require traditional reedpan, but I imagine, that they sound quite similar to accordion variant but I can see the advantage of smaller box possible with them, or that can be used to refurbish an antique box. But "DIX concertina original" are a curious beast, because the only real difference to "DIX concertina" is increased price... Unless their dimensions and angles differ, I haven't made a thorough comparison of those.

  17. 10 hours ago, Bassconcertina.net said:

    Ok, but just to be sure you noticed that this is BASS concertina I’m talking about too. And harmonium reeds are commonly used in them but I’m interested to see what a really low pitch concertina reed would sound like so we’ll go with what you said. Thanks!


    9 hours ago, Steve Schulteis said:

    For their original concertina reeds, size 4 reeds start getting tips weighted at A#2. When I was communicating with them, they had one size bigger.

    Yes, I have noticed. But I’m not shure if you are aware - harmonikas.cz „concertina original” reeds are not proper concertina reeds, they only have dovetailed shoe and screws instead of rivets, but they have trapezoid tongues and DIX shaped parallel walls slots. They do not have tapered slots and while they sound more concertina like thanks to the brass shoe, they do not sound exactly like concertina reeds. 

    And ignore my first post, I was thinking about helicon bass reeds instead of harmonium reeds. You most certainly can fit harmonium reeds in concertina and it will even be easier to do. 

    • Thanks 1
  18. Now, because pictures show more than a thousand words, and because indeed, https://musicnotation.org is overly extensive, a simple comparison between traditional notation and Parncutt. It is not my intention to "convert" anyone into switching to any of alternative notations, so please do not feel that way. Especially since there is only one convenient program for fast conversion and it is not available on Windows. I post it only so you can understand better what makes this alternative so much easier for me. I'm a Hayden player, and the sole consistency of visual pattern for each type of chord makes it worthwhile to spend a small bit of time to convert traditional .xml into this system, as it directly corresponds to how chords on isomorphic keyboards work. 

    Colour coding is entirely optional. All note marks are the same and any other element from the traditional system is/can be used. I personally don't use clefs, key signatures, sharps or flats because colour coding makes them obsolete, and I also use colour coding to differentiate LH and RH on a common staff.






  19. 6 hours ago, Mikefule said:

    Nope, my personal opinion of what is harder to read is not deeply wrong.  Neither is your personal opinion. 


    I followed your link and all I personally saw was complexity.  Maybe it's just what you get used to.


    I doubt that the established system is at risk of being replaced.  That may be intertia or it may be due to some objective advantage/disadvantage of one system or the other.

    I was only referring to the „nine lines are necessary, which makes such staff harder to read” part, which, as demonstrated, is false. You don’t need nine lines and/or visual clutter. Personal preference has nothing to do with it. I specifically mentioned piano roll earlier, because many of alternative systems are based on it, just rotated and optimised to take less vertical space. Piano roll is the most directly approachable way to learn piano, and since computer assisted play became a thing, the most widely spread alternative to traditional notation.

    As I wrote in my opening post, I get where both the inertia and usability of traditional system comes from, and what are the downsides of switching to alternative. Personally, I prefer being „bilingual” if I can read in one of the „languages” easier, and leave the other language for universal communication only.


    @thread: I can’t agree with the statement, that difficulty of musical notation is not impacting the road to becoming a good musician. For those of us who can’t play by ear, it is a huge gatekeeping problem. As I wrote above, I could not approach learning anything more complex than simple trad tunes or pop songs accompaniment before switching to Parncutt, because I need to be able to read the score fluently enough for efficient practice. ABC/note labeld just weren’t good enough solutions. I would compare it to trying to read poetry in a language you barely know, compared to reading it in a language that you are fluent in. Yes, you could do it by translating it verse by verse, to a language you are fluent in, but it is tedious task that takes away your practice time „allowance”, directly impacting the speed of increasing one’s repertoire. I don’t have good enough musical memory or ear to learn 3min long piece, consisting of multiple sections with full chordal accompaniment or four voice poliphony. I need an efficient way to read such score on the fly and easier to sight read system allowed me to jump head in into such complex pieces way sooner than sticking to harder, but universal language, that goes against how my brain works.

    • Like 1
  20. 1 hour ago, Mikefule said:

    Why does a staff has 5 lines when there are 12 semitones?


    That is an interestingly insightful question.


    The simple answer is because for most music, we think in scales rather than semitones.


    The standard major scale has 8 notes.  These cover a range of 12 semitones, but those semitones appear s predictable patterns of 1 semitone, or 2 (i.e. a tone.)


    In a sense, it's a bit like saying, why do we call  car a "4 wheel drive" rather than counting the wheel nuts.  In another very real sense, that is an extremely bad analogy.


    So a major scale in C is C D E F G A B c and the pattern after the first C is:

    Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone semitone.


    The notes are important: 7 different letter names, and 8 notes because the pattern repeats every octave.


    The staff or stave developed as a simple visual aid to where each note is positioned.


    5 lines and 4 spaces gives 9 positions for the note, plus 1 "sitting on top" and 1 "hanging below".  The stave provides a total of 11 positions for 11 notes before you need a ledger line.


    If the stave represented semitones, then to cover exactly those 11 notes of the scale from D above middle C, up to high G, from you would need 18 positions.  The nearest approximation would be 8 lines, with 7 spaces, + 1 sitting on top and 1 hanging below = 17 positions, or 9 lines (8 spaces, + 1 on top and 1 below) = 19 positions.


    A stave with 8 or 9 lines would be harder to read at a glance, and would not give useful additional information, because with the existing stave, you already know which note it is, and you know whether to modify it by a semitone by either the key signature or an accidental # or b sign.


    So the simple answer is: it's easier to read, and still gives you all the information you need.  You can go a long way in music without ever having to think directly about semi tones.


    The part of "harder to read" is very, deeply wrong. Look at this link https://musicnotation.org/systems/. Parncutt 6-6 chromatic notation I use (a variant of A-B chromatic notation listed under the link) has 4 lines and two ledger lines and then the pattern repeats - next 4 lines, next two ledger lines and so on. It is really intuitive and fast to read, each note will always land on the same line/space/ledger line, the vertical distance is exact distance in semitones, so the flow of note marks exactly follows the flow of melody, and each type of chord always look the same. It also has a "built in" black & white key piano pattern. Apart from different staff and vertical location of notes, Parncutt 6-6 uses everything else straight from traditional notation, except for things, that are obsolete (but you still can put sharp and flat marks if you wish, I use colour coding for even easier sight reading).

  21. 13 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:


    I'm less optimistic it would get much uptake. I guess I'm kind of saying that I agree with you that the inertia of tradition is hard to overcome. The current system is "good enough", and that's going to make it hard for a better system to replace it.


    I think ABC and piano roll have gained adoption because they serve somewhat different purposes than standard notation. There's overlap, but they each have something they do much, much better than traditional notation. They also do some things much, much worse. Horses for courses and all that.


    Oh, but I agree, just elaborating. I still use traditional notation, as everything I start working on starts as a traditional sheet. But for the love of me, I simply can't learn to sight read a system in which the same note from different octave lands in a different looking part of the staff. Different per octave and different for treble and bass clef. Vertical scale not having anything to do with the flow of the pitch is another problem for me. I can decipher it, but I can't read it fluently. And then I've been able to sight read Parncutt after a day of fiddling with it. IMHO what both ABC and piano roll do better is accessibility for newcomers. Western notation (and by extension, those alternative notations, that were invented by composers) of course beats ABC and piano roll when it comes to complex music, but has absurdly high entry point.

    • Like 1
  22. 14 minutes ago, Steve Schulteis said:


    I've got to agree with the basic claim here - the notation we have was produced organically over time, and there's a lot of weird history that led to the specific representation we've got. I'll stand by my statement that it's still a decent system, though (that's not the same as the best!). I think it would have been abandoned long ago if it wasn't. There are things it's not good at, but it's still a useful tool for communicating, at least about certain types of music. In my mind, the value of communicating with other people is the main reason not to abandon it for a freshly designed system that addresses some of its shortcomings.


    Well, from all discussions here and elsewhere, the main reason why traditional notation is used is because... it is traditional :D If you want to play any classical piece of music, you can read it straight from the original source. I bet, that if someone transcribed a huge repository of public domain sheets into any chromatic notation system, many people would use it instead. And sort of exactly this is achieved by ABC notation for trad music and piano roll notation for computer assisted play (when you play on MIDI keyboard connected to a computer displaying piano roll or use a tablet instead of paper sheets).

    To be clear - the rhytm part of the notation is very easy to learn and read, only the pitch part is awful. Many of those alternative notations use the same or very similar note duration representation.

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