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Kurt Braun

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Everything posted by Kurt Braun

  1. What you (Jim) are saying pretty much squares with my experience. Off hand, I can't recall ever singing in unison with the concertina. Not because it might sound muddy, but rather, as a male, there wouldn't be much room "under" the melody for chords and stuff. At the same time, I very much need the crutch of that melody being played near by so I can sing it. Usually I play the melody one octave above what I'm singing. This means that the notes I'm singing may well and often are doubled in the chords in the same octave I sing. I notice no competition (muddiness?). Some of my favorite pieces are played two octaves above where I sing. I can think of one section on one piece where the melody goes low enough (and I'm singing an octave lower still) where I put the chords (a sort of vamp, really) above my singing (melody in the left hand and chords in the right). I've seen mention several times of the "muddy" quality of duets in the left hand and even a singling out of closed rather than open chords. This was of great concern to me early on, but no longer is an issue (for me). I don't know if I have just become tolerant of the muddy quality or my playing through dynamics and articulation is what masks the mud. Anyway, I make frequent use of closed chords on the left side of my duet, albeit pretty high up on the keyboard both when singing and doing straight instrumental stuff. I like this sort of thread and hope others contribute.
  2. That is chemnitzer notation. I used to come across that a lot in Norther Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.
  3. I live in (swampy) Louisiana and beyond keeping the instrument (a Crabb) in its case, I do nothing to protect it. To be sure, it is very humid outside, but I only rarely play the instrument outdoors unless there is no humidity issue. This is to protect my own comfort, not the concertina. The instrument appears to me to play the same from season to season and seems to be as good as it was when I got it some 15 years ago. I used to live in Illinois. The story (and the tina, an older Lachenal) there was very different. The Lachenal changed wildly from season to season and generally declined over the years. In the winter time the instrument would dry out due to the low humidity brought on by cold weather and dry heat. It was awful. The instrument leaked badly in the winter. Some reeds got free air and would speak without opening the valves. It was hard to play more than a measure without changing bellows direction (a duet). By the end of 10 years the instrument had had it and I always considered its demise to my not being able to control the humidity. But by that I mean, keeping it humid. The move to Louisiana also meant I could afford to replace the earlier instrument. That makes this little tale confounded by clime and instruments, but I offer it as my experience such as it is.
  4. I don't know exactly what you are getting at with the low button count, but here are a few comments that might be helpful. BTW, my experience is exclusively with Cranes and not too many of them. The size of the reeds count for as much as the number of keys. I used to have a 55 key triumph. Now I have a 59 key. The extra four keys weigh a ton (slight exageration). But that is because the left side of the concertina is so very much deeper (lower), not because it has four more studs. The lower notes make for a much bigger instrument. So if you are comparing a 48 key with a 55 key and the difference is in the upper register where reeds are small (and light) and the tina doesn't have to be made larger to accomodate them, you aren't gaining that much by reducing the number of keys. (At the same time, I personally rarely use the top row or even the next to top row, so it wouldn't be that great a loss either.) You might find, when looking at instruments, a better made instrument with more keys and only a slight increase in weight. Don't forget that quality does count for something. Finally, it might be of interest to you that initially I was *very* disapointed at the larger size of the 59 key instrument. I eventually learned the advantage of the increased range -- especially on the lower end that "caused" the increase in size and weight. Some day I'd like to have what I'd consider a little 55 key instrument, but it would never replace my larger instrument.
  5. Jim, This would be *very* unusual. Low pitch on saxophones almost always refers to A=440 as opposed to A=456. Most modern horns are pitched to 440 without mention of the L. Some saxophones are marked A, meaning American because they were the odd guys for a while. A meant A=440 too. A lot of vintage horns without the L are pitched to 456. A c-melody with the L on it is usually a sought after horn because when c-molodies were popular, may were pitched too high. You may need to push the mouthpiece further on. Or you may have a faulty neck or otherwise be out of adjustment. Could also be your embouchure. You could find out for sure by posting on saxontheweb.net where there are many friendly and knowledgeable posters. One problem there is that knowledgeable and not knowledgeable posters can be difficult to suss out. Good luck, Kurt
  6. Though not entirely exclusive, there are two basic kinds of practice. One concentrates on increasing and improving one’s repertoire. Ironically, it is often the experienced player who neglects the second sort – increasing the breadth of one’s musicianship and mastery of the instrument. This would mean increasing and improving facility on the instrument to include all that the instrument itself in capable of, including multiple genres. In addition, if one can’t play by ear, it would be good to practice that. There in no pride to be taken by not being able to read music either. I find it more meaningful to try playing melodies in the bass and harmonizing in the treble (or anything else that I’m particularly bad at) than learning a new song or polishing an old one. Having said all of this, I must confess that I don’t often follow this advice, but when I do, my practice is clearly more “meaningful.” As far as time goes, more time playing per day is better. I don’t enjoy interruptions, but accept them graciously for the most part. And with time per day held constant, I don’t think there is much difference in terms of making progress between many short sessions and few long ones. Practicing what you don’t do well is really helpful.
  7. My hats off to her! I'm especially impressed that she got that 2004 copyright on those lyrics! They are so hauntingly familiar! My mind is going faster than I thought. I have to admit that I don't much listen to the radio these days.
  8. If Henk thinks Tennessee Waltz is a radio song, he must have a really old radio. Love songs on a concertina ... That would be serenading your Squeeze with your squeeze?
  9. I started out as a woodwind player – mainly saxophone and oboe. Like many musicians, I didn’t see much of the non-musical world around me and when I met someone new would ask, “what do you play?” since I rarely met people who didn’t play something. Then, as an Air Force musician, I lived in Spain for two years and got interested in Spain, history and lots of other stuff including people who didn’t play music. When I returned to the States I sold all of my instruments (quit music with a vengeance!) and got on with other things. After a year or so I found an unsold alto recorder. Then bought another one. Then a dulcimer. Then a banjo. A guitar. A harmonica. An autoharp. A hammered dulcimer. A piano. I just couldn’t fill this hole in my life. About seven years after I’d given it all up, I subscribed to Mugwump’s magazine with an eye toward getting something utterly fantastic like a glass harmonica or a hurdy gurdy. That’s where I started eyeing concertinas. I did some soul searching to get a clear idea what I wanted and came up with notions like something I could sing with and would support my tin ear. Something no one else played so I wouldn’t beat myself up when I couldn’t play as well as they did. Something that didn’t allow for a teacher (no pressure). I had always admired people who could play from a fake book and I wanted something that could play any chord and any melody in any key. Shortly after that I found myself in London pouring over concertinas at Crabb’s shop. A crane duet was what I wanted. It met all my requirements. Several months later I sent Mr. Crabb some money and several months after that (May 11, 1978 to be exact) a 55 key Lachenal Triumph arrived. I’ve logged all of my concertina playing on only two concertinas. I traded that first one in on my current 59 key Crabb crane. I don’t know what I’d do without it. More recently I bought a saxophone, but you didn’t ask about that.
  10. The harmonica playing version of Cabby Barra is pictured at this site: http://www.harmonicats.com/history2.htm Scroll down to the third picture.
  11. There was a group call the Harmonicats. There were more than three as I remember. They were very good and played lots of harmonicas. Some were huge. Some were ganged in groups, sort of like a gatling gun where you could rotate from one to another. The plethora of instruments wasn't just to get to different keys. Some used multiple reeds on a single hole and were wet tuned. They were very good. They acted like clowns, but they played very well.
  12. George Braque did countless renditions of guitars, mandolins, an occasional violin. Anyone know of a rendition of a concertina? If not, I wonder why not.
  13. Mississippi Mud is a great one -- on topic, fun and catchy. As I try to imagine the gig unfold, that might be the just one people walk away with in their heads.
  14. I did my undergraduate work in Fayetteville Arkansas. One day a retired professor I befriended dragged me along to visit a friend of his who was in a nursing home at the time. The guy in the nursing home was Vance Randolf! Too bad it was another 10 years before I became even remotely interested in folk music. Nevertheless, even then I treasured the encounter and still do. Forgive my off topic remark, but I don't often have a chance to tell this one.
  15. My first reaction was the same as Tim's -- stomp on his head! I couldn't figure out why he would have an issue with *your* foot. With regard to most classically trained teachers, not tapping is considered the rule. I can sort of see why and would recommend that you keep the skill as it is difficult for some people. His point might be to keep a steady beat. Keeping a steady beat is realy good when playing with others. It is also a good thing to do from the get go when learning a new piece. It isolates the measures you need to work on. Put another way, allowing yourself to slow down for the difficult areas masks the reality that you need to "wood shed" those measures. This technique can reduce the time it takes to get tunes with difficult sections under your fingers. You could try a metronome. Me? I can't play with a steady beat unless someone is stompling on my head and when I tap my foot, it wouldn't match a metronome.
  16. Thanks Jim. I am aware of Cornell's playing. Several people have encouraged him to record, but better yet would be hearing him in person -- something I hope to do one day. Stephen, it would be wonderful if you could find a way to share those recordings and I don't think that I'm the only person that would be interested. The sites mentioned are really great resources. It is a great experience to print and play the materials available on the Maccann-duet site. When within range, (the problem is always on the left side of my instrument) everything is well within the ability of a Crane. There is no accounting for taste, but save Cornell's arrangements, very little of the old stuff seems that compelling. (Isn't the casual playing of familiar and entertaining songs and tunes the most compelling of all?) The old stuff IS interesting though. I'll really haven't made that much use of the ICA site, but will try to do better. I have had a membership check in an addressed envelope for several months now and have yet to mail it because I can't figure out how much postage it needs. Pay Pal? Again, thanks.
  17. No need to run for cover on my account. I'm also not in the least interested in working on virtuoso status. I would however, be curious to see sheet music and hear the playing of a duet virtuoso. Could you point me in the right direction?
  18. It has been nearly 30 years and it wasn't for more that 10 minutes that I held a Maccann. I do play a Crane with good regularity. I realize that the two keyboards are different but when I try to imagine a musical difference between the two I draw a blank. Different key signatures? Arpeggios versus chords? Staccato? Legato? If two players had the keyboards down and both instruments had the same left and right hand ranges, beyond personality, how could one hear the difference? What about the two keyboards would steer a player to what sort of music? Neville Crabb told me that they were equal and it was just what you started on. My own opinion was that I (no one but me, so this is personal) was more comfortable with fingers reaching up and down (out and in?) on the keyboard rather than moving from side to side. So I liked the taller and narrower (five versus six rows) keyboard. A second benefit for me (again, this is personal) was separation of chromatic naturals and accidentals. But it never occurred to me that one system would be more suited to a certain kind of music. Was I wrong?
  19. And for those without access to old copies of Concertina Magazine, here is what appears to be the same song posted on Mudcat.org by Bob Bolton http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=11304#83321 Lyrics, MIDItest and ABC too. Oh, my!
  20. Lots of good comments and interest here. Quickly --- children call. I really like being able to click on the profiles. Henk, how do you do that so fast? Stephen's point on learning to record is well taken. I found it daunting. I tried to include some of that on my web site, but it isn't really an area I have much experience in. A good article on concertina.net about recording with minimal equipment, software and effort is a big need. Any takers? Stephen, aren’t you in Houston? Come on over to Baton Rouge one day. I’d be happy to record you! As for the list itself, as others alluded to, there is the possibility of the project collapsing because of the work involved in maintenance. At some point, not necessarily soon, it might be helpful if it could be designed so people could post their own urls. That would ensure growth too. Jim: With regard to the instrument information... You are correct on all counts, of course, and I am certainly interested in concertinas at all levels. However, IMHO there is a need to get to the music, the non-material, non-engineering aspects of concertinas, if you will. There certainly seems to be plenty on this site about the instruments themselves. Kurt
  21. I like it! What you have is more than conceptual -- it works! It appears to me that growing the page length is high among the next steps. A couple of comments -- this looks like a list of performances of songs and tunes played on concertina. With an eye toward staying focused on that, there may be little to no need for brand information, though the type of concertina does seem relevant. In place of the brand column, there might rather be genre or some other broad characterization of the song or tune -- the music. I see no reason for excluding fragments -- indeed; generally I perform much more elaborate versions of songs than I record. On the name column, I like the idea of the concertina.net user name. That way, curious listeners would be able to get at user profile information easily. With that notion, I guess this would be a concertina.net sort of thing. That might keep borders around a project that could quickly get out of had (and die!). There are all sorts of bells and whistles (clickable sorts for columns, clickable use names) but that can all come later, the main thing is more entries and exposure. With that in mind, what sort of process to you envision for getting entries on the list? So far you seem to have scoured the membership. Would that be sustainable? Would there need to be some sort of warning label for Stuart Estell's entries? I very much enjoyed your playing and missed it on the list. Kurt
  22. I think this is a very worthy project. I'm trying to think how it might work. Would this be on the concertina.net site -- the links and information,- not the sound files? On the comments . . . In addition to comments on the tunes, I'd welcome knowing more about the players. Perhaps a little biographical information, some information about musical experience, current activities and interests, instruments too, but more about the music than tangible musical things. Maybe not. Maybe this is a separate project listing players with web sites? Just musing.
  23. The Ferryboat Seranade mentions a ''man playing his concertina." I think it may have even made the hit parade back in the thirties or so.
  24. A midi version of the concertina is long overdue. What was the original if not an attempt to bring all fo the then modern techniques together to build the best and best mechanical arts to bear the making of a thoroughly modern, portable and versatile musical instrument? I can't wait.
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