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Kurt Braun

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  1. Not English, but in English: Roll Me Over, Harry Babad The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs, Ed Cray Both available from Amazon
  2. 57 keys plus air. I'd bet it is a 55 with an f# and a g extending the high f to g. I think I played one just like this back in 2004. If so, the right hand starts on middle c and extends 32 chromatic notes upward. The left hand has all the notes between c above middle c and c below middle c. Maybe more is always better, but this is a very useful range and a pretty compact, light weight instrument with the right amount of bellow capacity. The owner of the one I saw did a good job playing it and singing with it as well. It was a solid, no excuses, instrument. I wouldn't call it to good to be true, but it sure might have potential. On the other hand, that is a lot of money to put down without seeing it up close or at least having a knowledgeable person vouching for the condition, etc. It could ready to play great out of the box or it could require half again (or more) in repairs.
  3. This point is well taken. More than a few times I have gotten surprising feedback on my volume -- and at both extremes. For example, "I wish I had sat closer to you, I never really heard you play." -- after an old timey jam with mostly dulcimers and a few quiet acoustic guitars. Admittedly, I was trying not to overpower the dulcimers. and "Man, that thing has a real presence!" -- at a rather large blue grass jam by the most "senior" cut-through-anything fiddle player -- who on further discussion, liked that fact that I was so loud. However, I didn't mean to be loud on that occasion so it was unsettling.
  4. Years ago I played with some Irish folks. They seemed to play fiddle tunes with lots of repetition and low toleration for variation and/or harmony. I got bored with that, but I didn't have a hard time being heard (wooden ended Crane). For several years (decades!) I played mostly by myself and did songs and party pieces. For the past two years I have been "jamming" with just about anyone. Most jammers I know like bluegrass, folk, pop or rock from the 70s and 80s (old farts -- but I'm older). I now play a metal ended Crane (I don't notice it being loader than wood, but I'll spot you that). I rarely have any trouble playing softer or louder than the next guy or being heard in groups of say 8 to 10 or less. Here is what I do: To play soft, just the melody on the right hand or two note chords, again on the right hand near the middle of the keyboard and with not too much bellow pressure. To play loud I play the melody in octaves (one note on each hand) and push and pull hard. Speed isn't that much of an issue because as the group gets bigger, the playing slows a bit (more people can not keep up). If it is really fast, there are usually just a few people playing and I can drop the left hand for speed and still be heard. On songs where the phrases end on a sustained note, I can improvise a lick or two in octaves during the sustain -- People always hear me. You can also fit yourself in when no one else is (I've seen Jody Kruskal pull this off) by punching chords in rhythms (beats) that others are not using. Guitar players do the same thing by coming up with a strum that is different from the pack. You can also mix and match this with all sort of variation. For example, do a stride bass and chord on the left (om pa om pa) and some sort of easy block chord with a funky rhythm on the right and then at the end of the phase double octave a counter melody on the sustain. In no time you can be a real pig about it. Three more notes, one of the best musicians I aver played with used to say, "If you can't play well, play loud and if you can't play loud, play fast." Fast and loud are both very over rated, I think. Secondly, sometimes when I don't know how to contribute it is because the best thing I can do is case the 'tina and listen. Just enjoying the others playing is not too bad a thing. Finally, play in groups where all the musicians respect each other. Respectful players with take turns getting "under" the others in the group. You shouldn't have to struggle to shine once in a while.
  5. Kurt Braun


    Where? I'm not seeing them. Point me to Crabb Cranes please.
  6. http://scraggy.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/SilentNight.mp3 This is silent night offered as a Christmas present to those listening. First time through is melody (soprano) and alto. Second time is melody and bass. Third time is four parts (soprano, alto, tenor and bass). Recorded on an Olympus LS-10 mounted on the same music stand that held the sheet music. Sorry for any baubles. Merry Christmas, Kurt Edited to add the url.
  7. Check this out: http://www.squeeze-in.org/TalentShowCDs/2010CD.html
  8. Now - that's just not true! Well good of you to say that but now please explain what you mean and give examples that we can all listen to. Also explain clearly what you think are the differences between an English concertina and a Duet concertina. In particular give us examples of counterpoint played on other sorts of concertinas. I play a crane duet and feel pretty comfortable in saying I'm aware of most of the instrument's abilities and limitations. A couple of years ago, Bertram Levy convinced me that there was nothing musically significant a duet could play that an anglo couldn't. I can't speak to English personally, but there is a recent post ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joi-J8ywORE&fmt=18 ) on another Cnet forum. This person is playing the hymn "Abide With Me" in what sounds to me as four parts. I'd say that would count as an example of counter point. More, it is the sort of thing one thinks of as the providence of the duet. These which-concertina-is-good-for-what discussions do not make much sense once you get on and get going with them. An old photographer friend once told me that no matter what camera you have, if you take the best pictures the camera will take, you will have some really good photographs. I expect that concertinas are about the same.
  9. Check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Changes-Practical-Vernacular-Products/dp/0793555698/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287111520&sr=8-1 Making Changes: A Practical Guide to Vernacular Harmony by Salzman and Sahl It covers all of your questions and more.
  10. Not really, but you might like the BS threads over at Mudcat. A wise (intelligent) man once advised me to never argue with someone I disagreed with. I'm of the opinion that protracted discussions are not intelligent so you may be looking for a null set.
  11. I've been playing a duet since 1977 and I love it. However, I must say that if I'd spent all those years on a piano or a guitar or even an accordion I would have a much larger repertoire and be generally a better musician than I am today. Though I'm sure of this, I'm not so sure about the "why" of it. I think that it has something to do with how close the keys are (fine motor stuff) and the expectations. It really does take a long time to work up a decently interesting arrangement. I've watched my son, admittedly more talented than I, progress on the piano over less than 10 years. He is just 16, but a good example of what I'm talking about. He has long been able work up an arrangement in less than an hour what it would take me weeks to do. And even then, he can play it much more reliably than I and at least as musically. Now he is working on stuff I'd never attempt on the duet. Though in the abstract, the duet seems to be as capable as a piano, you don't don't hear many (any?) of even the best duet players attempt stuff that is common at junior high piano and guitar recitals. I know nothing of English concertina's, but I suspect that taking up the violin would be a better choice there too. There is something very seductive about the concertina, but the choice seems to be less than rational (irrational?). I rarely try to sell others on the instrument. It is a road less traveled and there is fun in that. But, I'm not interested in advocating concertina too strongly as I witness the better chances of success on other instruments.
  12. After 4 years as an Air Force bandsman, I stopped by to see my grandfather, a crotchety German immigrant bricklayer. I hadn't seen him in years. He introduced me to his best friend as his grandson, the musician, with a mock pride. He and his friend exchanged glances and smiles as the word musician was emphasized. It was clear that for these old fellows "musician" was a term of derision meaning good-for-nothing and synonymous with ne're do well. That was over 40 years ago and he is long gone. If he is looking down on me, I'm pretty sure he is feeling smugly correct in his veiled assessment. So, yes, I'm a musician and have had countless musician friends over the years. More, I count everyone here as a musician and I think we should all be proud of it as well.
  13. I play a Crane and was in a similar position nearly a year ago. I was in the market for a smaller instrument and was offered a beautiful Wheatstone that was just what I was looking for. It was a beautiful, no excuses instrument. I couldn't get past that it was so different. I sent it back. Along the same lines, a few years ago I heard an interview with Earl Scruggs on NPR. He said he is still playing the same instrument he was playing in 1948. They asked him if he had not seen any better banjos in that period. He said sure, but when his fingers reach for a note he knows exactly what is going to happen. Yep.
  14. Try: Making Changes, A Practical Guide to Vernacular Harmony by Eric Salzman & Michael Sahl
  15. The internet and more specifically, Concertina.net and Concertina.com have had a very good influence on me personally. First, Geoff Crabb's appeal on Concertina.net to contact him about Crabb ownership started a relationship with him that resulted in me putting up a web page and got me to record myself and practice. That in turn led me to Concertina.Com and participating in the Concertina.net forum. Then I went to the North East Squeeze In, because of all of the excitement it generated on the forum. There I met Geoff Lakeman, who inspired me quite a bit. Soon afterword, through Dan Worrall, I got involved with the Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer festivals. There have been lots of influences there including, but by no means limited to Betram Levy, Jody Kruskal, Mark Gilston and lot's and lot's of other fine musicians who don't know a concertina from ... All of that got me playing concertina in public and involved with Sacred Harp, open mike and other singing, rediscovering the saxophone and autoharp and on it goes. Now, to be sure, I had to "harvest" all of this and the internet only introduced me to Palestine, etc. Still, it has been important to me and I don't think it is over yet. Kurt
  16. The first return on concertinas potatoes received from Google: http://lifesapicnic.blogspot.com/2006/10/concertina-garlic-potatoes.html Looks good to me.
  17. Dan, I have my bags packed and can't wait to see everyone. Kurt
  18. For longer than I care to reveal, I've played (and sung) mostly to myself and very occasionally to family and close friends. Several months ago I began attending a weekly open mic and bi-weekly jam sessions. I've learned a lot from this. To share: 1. Guitars are wonderful instruments to accompany singing. Concertinas must be reigned in a bit for singing. 2. No one(except me) plays the melody or even a counter melody and I'm questioning the utility of this. 3. Instrumental breaks are extremely rare. And a few of the really fun and musical performers really don't play that well at all. 4. The most interesting and fun to listen to people know lots and lots of songs. And they know them well. 5. It is the song that matters. Do it well, and what you do on the accompaniment goes mostly unnoticed. 6. Microphones, amplifiers and the rest, also matter. (I'm awaiting my PA system as I write this so I can practice with the stuff that complicates the open mic session.) If you don't get the balance and all correct, everything else can quickly fall apart. 7. Most of the fun of all of this is the people you meet, not the instrument. 8. Now that I'm into it, I see that my problem with jam sessions was trying too hard and trying to do too much. Just a few keys, a few chords, and a few rhythmic patterns go a long way. Listening to others is very helpful. People like it if you take your turn, so you need to know some songs. 9. You have to know how to sing with just chords. 10. Working out on a treadmill is a good time to memorize lyrics, and you need to. 11. Music stands are useless. You need to know stuff pat so you can interact with the audience with your eyes. This is a particularly difficult thing for me. 12. Voice teachers are helpful people. Kurt
  19. I know this thread has been dead a long time, but it has been haunting me lately and I'd like to add a few comments. On reflection, I use the technique of pressing two keys with one finger more on the upper reaches of the keyboard much more than in the middle of the keyboard. I find it impossible to accomplish pressing two keys with one finger on the lower row(s). As mentioned elsewhere, I frequently play closed 3 and 4 note chords high up on the left side. Sometimes, rather than just hitting the chord all at once, I'll use a sort of waterfall effect where I play the upper note of the chord, then add the next note down, then the next until I have all 3 or (more usually) 4 notes sounding. If one of the notes is just below a note, I add that note to the finger playing the note above. Over time, I have noticed that I'm able to do this with enough speed and force that it sounds as if I pressed the lower note with a new finger. I mention this because there was a time when attempting such things was not something I would consider. Now, I'm rather practiced at it and enjoy the new capability and have also added it to cascading chords on the right hand side as well. Kurt
  20. This is how my first teacher (not concertina) dealt with the problem. Each week he would assign me some sort of etude that would stretch my technique and or experience with different keys, intervals, rhythms, articulations and or modes. It would be something that I would not be able to muddle through, but within a week of concentrated practice, I could play at a good speed with no errors (wrong notes or speed variation). That is, it built my confidence as well as my technique. Next, he would assign me a short (two or three minute) piece. The idea here was begin with something that I could (technically) play with moderate difficulty (waist deep, not ankle deep and not over my head, if you get my drift). The idea was that in a week, I would play it back, not only error free, but musically and with some expression. Every week I had to make some music. The trick, where he earned his money, was to choose things that would move me forward (not the same old thing) and would be something that I could actually accomplish within one week of work (challenging, but not too difficult). To this day, I think I waste too much time on stuff that is either too easy or too hard.
  21. Has anyone here had hands on experience with the new Zoom Q3? Thanks
  22. Rod, The left of mine (shown at http://scraggy.net/tina/left.html) extends to the f just below the bass clef. One needs to go this low if interested in playing choral music (four part hymns). Kurt
  23. You were missed! I wanted to do Autumn Leaves with you again. I played 1. "No One Like You" (a lullaby from the Muppets my kids like) to highlight the duet's ability to play a counter melody. 2. Bach's setting of "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" to show off the duet's handling of 4-part polyphony 3. "My Creole Belle" just for fun and because it passes for Old Time. But the mainstays of my repertoire are still folk songs, standards from the 30s and 40, and more recently hymns -- especially of the American South. Speaking of Hymns -- there were some great impromptu sings in the hall out of Heavenly Highway hymnals. Meeting Bertram Levy was one of those lifetime experiences -- a great musician and a kind and gentle man. There were lots of other good things about the festival and again it was very frustrating not to be able to be in two or three places at the same time and not to have the endurance for it all. Kurt
  24. I hesitate because I'd rather continue my "advanced" status and don't want to become "chatty." I usually play the chords in closed position as far up on the left as I can. My instrument only goes up to the G above middle C on the left side. My previous instrument extended to the next C, and I still played up as far as I could on the left side. I like this because it allows me to do rather mindless chording -- only one inversion for every chord and it generally avoids parallel fifths which sound odd to most western ears and certainly to mine. Another advantage is that if one is playing chords (especially sustained at volume) in closed position, they will sound muddier the lower you go. I could leave a note or two out, but I like the richer harmonies particularly with tin pan alley sorts of stuff (7th, 6th and diminished chords). So keeping them up on the keyboard helps. Yet another advantage accrues when alternating chords with base notes for a stride effect. Concertinas, even duets, don't have that great piano range, so putting the chords up maximizes the stride effect by increasing the distance between the chords and the bass notes. I play melodies generally on the lower end of the right side. Going above the staff is relatively rare for me -- especially doing the sorts of tunes one would sing. I guess that makes me guilty of having the melody go below the upper parts of the harmony a good bit of the time. Actually, I've never seen that written down as something one should avoid and it certainly has never struck me as in any way unusual or "bad." I should also note that none of this is hard and fast and I like to try other stuff, but these sorts of default patterns make things easier when you have enough on your plate (new songs, a long day, playing with others, etc.) With regard to singing, I'm a poor baritone. On a good day I can reach the first E above middle C. My range extends, not necessarily reliably, about two octaves and a note or two downward from there. I'm not a strong singer, but I do sing quite a bit and I really love to sing, especially with the concertina. Without the concertina and in my church choir, I like to be between two other people singing the same part I sing or I'll just sing the melody. When I learn a new song on the concertina, I play the melody on the right side at a supportive volume. That would mean the melody is played at least one octave higher than my singing and the harmony can also easily be above my voice. As I learn the tune (by lots of repetition) I can back off on the volume. With even more repetition, I can muddle through with just the chords (autoharp is great for practicing this). Finally, there are songs that I've been playing and singing for years that I can finally sing unaccompanied or even with counter melodies. It is very very rare for me to sing with my concertina in public and never doing these advanced tricks. In other words, I sing unaccompanied or with counter melodies in a room alone. I do enjoy myself. There are lots of better players and singers, but you can get an idea of the sorts of fun I have from listening to me mess around at: scraggy.net/tina/playlist.htm Thanks, Kurt
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