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Terry McGee

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    Flute, concertina, Irish music, trad songs, audio, electronics, instrument making
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    Malua Bay, NSW Australia

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Chatty concertinist

Chatty concertinist (4/6)

  1. And speaking of Lawson, the ACT Government has gazetted the placenames to be used in a new subdivision of the Canberra suburb of Lawson. The names are taken from the writer's works, and include a Concertina Street. The listing and map can be found at: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/di/2013-228/current/pdf/2013-228.pdf Terry
  2. Lawson's poem "Song of the old bullock driver" contains the lines: And sing to the sound of an old concertina Their rugged old songs where strange fancies were linked. And his short story "Going Blind" contains four mentions: He was a typical bushman, not one of those tall, straight, wiry, brown men of the West, but from the old Selection Districts, where many drovers came from, and of the old bush school; one of those slight active little fellows whom we used to see in cabbage-tree hats, Crimean shirts, strapped trousers, and elastic-side boots —“larstins,” they called them. They could dance well; sing indifferently, and mostly through their noses, the old bush songs; play the concertina horribly; and ride like — like — well, they could ride. And Going in next day I thought for a moment that I had dropped suddenly back into the past and into a bush dance, for there was a concertina going upstairs. He was sitting on the bed, with his legs crossed, and a new cheap concertina on his knee, and his eyes turned to the patch of ceiling as if it were a piece of music and he could read it. “I’m trying to knock a few tunes into my head,” he said, with a brave smile, “in case the worst comes to the worst.” He tried to be cheerful, but seemed worried and anxious. The letter hadn’t come. I thought of the many blind musicians in Sydney, and I thought of the bushman’s chance, standing at a corner swanking a cheap concertina, and I felt sorry for him. Mentioned again in his "Shanty on the Rise" Jimmy came to me and whispered, and I muttered, `Go along!' But he shouted, `Mr. Swaller will oblige us with a song!' And at first I said I wouldn't, and I shammed a little too, Till the girls began to whisper, `Mr. Swallow, now, ah, DO!' So I sang a song of something 'bout the love that never dies, And the chorus shook the rafters of the Shanty on the Rise. Jimmy burst his concertina, and the bullock-drivers went For the corpse of Joe the Fiddler, who was sleeping in his tent; Joe was tired and had lumbago, and he wouldn't come, he said, But the case was very urgent, so they pulled him out of bed; And they fetched him, for the bushmen knew that Something-in-Disguise Had a cure for Joe's lumbago in the Shanty on the Rise. Terry
  3. And don't forget Henry Lawson's poem "The Good Old Concertina" 'Twas merry when the hut was full Of jolly girls and fellows. We danced and sang until we burst The concertina's bellows. From distant Darling to the sea, From the Downs to Riverina, Has e'er a gum in all the west Not heard the concertina? 'Twas peaceful round the campfire blaze, The long white branches o'er us; We'd play the tunes of bygone days, To some good old bush chorus. Old Erin's harp may sweeter be, The Scottish pipes blow keener; But sing an old bush song for me To the good old concertina. 'Twas cosy by the hut-fire bright When the pint pot passed between us; We drowned the voice of the stormy night With the good old concertina's. Though trouble drifts along the years, And the pangs of care grow keener, My heart is gladdened when it hears That good old concertina.
  4. Hmmm, it seems while we've been muttering about the merits of old and new record-keeping technologies, the "Internet of Things" has been sneaking up behind us.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyjgn5YO1Lk Terry
  5. Half of anything will be below the average. How's about the australian expression " Conca" or the very english "Leather Ferret". I'm sure Maki was just making a little joke there Geoff but thanks for the clarification. Actually I'd say most Aussies are below average, the way we voted in the last election points to that. But we're not all that "uncoof". I may say "conca" but I spell it "concer" thankyou very much. Well Steve, I was trying to be funny too but Maki's joke was more subtle I guess. Sorry "Concer" it should have been indeed! Hang on a second - you have to allow for regional variation. It might be the very posh "concer" down in Bega Shire, but up here in the neighbouring Eurobodalla Shire, it's defintely "conca". Of course, I've also been in Australia longer than Steve has..... Nobody has yet put forward a liking for 'tina. Or is it 'teena? Terry
  6. Hah hah. I'm afraid I'd do the realist thing and get the better instrument, but I'd look back wistfully at the revered object as I left. But you're right, it does have relevance to the topic of marking instruments with their history. How will we know the provenance of any of these instruments, new or old, if we don't encourage people to keep those records? And what better place to keep them than inside where they can't be separated from the instrument in question*? I think there should be a concertina.net Concordat on the issue, setting out the recommendations of this peak body! *I guess from time-to-time, repairers have to replace action boards that have perhaps split or warped too badly to repair. I would hope at that time, they would carefully transcribe any historical markings on to the new board. [This point covered by Section 171.45.6 of the Concordat, "Preservation and transcription of historical markings".....] Terry
  7. Wow, you can't afford to sit around here for long, they change the topic while your back is turned! Harking back to our earlier discussion, I did check with my musical instrument conservator friend (Bronwen Griffiths, ex of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney), and she just came back to me with these observations: The question about how to write things on objects comes up a lot in Museums, because in almost every case, an object / catalogue number needs to be written on for identification. Everything is tagged too, because a tag is easier to see, but tags can get lost or mixed up. What you use to write the number depends on the materials of the object. Have a look at http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/pdf/preservation/A_Simple_Guide_to_Lablling_Museum_Objects.pdf http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/NationalServices/HowWeHelp/Marking%20objects%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf Lead pencil is great in that it's stable unless it gets rubbed, cheap and generally won't damage the object. That's used on bare wood or on paper items. If pen is required, a removable barrier layer (just big enough to write on) like paraloid B72 (polymethyl methacrylate resin which can be mixed with acetone or ethanol or similar) goes first, then when it's dry, number with either a light stable permanent black or white pen. The PDF has got brand names of some and we've also used India ink pens. A barrier layer goes over the top once that's dry to protect the writing. Museums use paraloid B67 because it dissolves in petroleum spirits, so won't dissolve the first later. Sometimes when you're labelling over a varnish layer, you might not want to use any of the above solvents, so you might need to change the barrier layer. If water's OK, there's a tissue paper method in the Powerhouse PDF that you should read. Pens with a soft tip (eg. Fibre tipped) rather than ball point are preferable, so you don't dig into the wood, same with pencils - softer is better. I know you can get small quantities of paraloid from http://www.preservationaustralia.com.au . Obviously pen on the object directly would be more useful if you were trying to prevent theft, being harder (or impossible) to remove, but that's a pain if you want to take it off again. I've noticed repair names and dates inside all sorts of instruments and even more in instrument related items such as organ blowers (maybe people feel more free to write on things they think are more "disposable"). You're right, it is nice to be able to see some kind of record from the repairers as well as the makers. ....I also like getting to read the newspaper pieces you sometimes find inside things. Hope that helps. If you're ever trying to write on plastics, things get trickier, but hopefully you can ignore them. So, pencil seems fine (which is born out by general experience such as HansiRowe's instrument above). Choose a hardness that doesn't dig in too much. Pen is OK (black is usual, but white is OK if needed to stand out on a dark surface), with fine fibre-tips preferred to ball-points on wood to avoid digging in. Given the action board wood is usually a pretty fine and firm hardwood, digging in probably isn't a problem, since we shouldn't need to remove the markings. (A museum might decide to de-accession an item and therefore have to remove its accession number.) I did wonder if pencil markings on those parts of the action board that are exposed to the vibrating air inside a reed cell might degrade faster than those that are not. I'd be interested if any repairers have noted such degradation. The first few letters of "Tuned" in HansiRowe's instrument are close to the hole and could have been blurred because of that. But the letters in the middle of "Repaired" are probably closer and seem OK. Terry
  8. Can I add that we've been discussing the leaving of historical messages inside concertinas at the other location HansiRowe mentioned (prompted by image 3 above). It lead me to wonder if we should ask current makers to encourage owners and repairers to contribute to the future history of their instruments by including prompts for the information we'd like to find. You'll find that discussion at http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17000 . It would be interesting to hear from historians what those prompts should be, and from makers, how best could it be achieved in practice? Terry
  9. It's certainly an interesting question, and I have an example. I bought a refurbished Lachenal anglo from Neville Crabb in London in 1974. On the outside, it bears the Crabb label where once the Lachenal label would have been. Inside the RH end, in pencil we find: Made by G Jones. A second entry says Renovated By followed by the H. Crabb & Son inked stamp. The LH end has no writing, just the Crabb stamp. It doesn't appear to me that extensive work was done on it, so "renovated" seems like an apt description. In that light, replacing the Lachenal label with the Crabb label seems to be overstated. I still think of it as a Lachenal, nicely refurbished by Crabb. I guess "of historical interest" is not necessarily of interest to all. Like HansiRowe, I really appreciate knowing what has happened before. But keeping such records disadvantages nobody, so we can probably cater to all tastes. Terry
  10. I'd caution against any hi-tech approach (funny coming from a technologist, I know!). Moore's Law suggests that technological advances will come many times faster than a concertina's mean-time-between-repairs. Conceivably, in the interregnum between repairs, the previous technology could become unreadable. Black ink on acid-free paper is probably still the best bet, but I can check with conservators if anyone feels the need for confirmation (just ask). Pencil on wood seems to be hanging in pretty well too! The environment is almost ideal - no abrasion, moisture, light, heat or anything else to cause fading. What information would we want captured? Owners - name, address and date of acquisition? Repairers - name, address, date and nature of repair? Should this aspect of the discussion continue under the Concertina History heading to bring in the historians? Or Instrument Construction & Repair to bring in makers? Terry
  11. Hmmm, I wonder if our modern makers should glue a sticker inside the LH end headed "Owners", and one in the RH end titled "Repairers"? We could discuss what the printed columns on the stickers would be headed.
  12. Does that say "Tuned & Repaired" at the top? "Tuned" would imply a reasonable level of technical knowledge. A date would have been nice. I am amused that he took up most of the available real estate for one repair message, not leaving much for the future. As if to say: "When I've finished tuning and repairing this, it will never need attention again..." And is the big squiggle under the address just a squiggle, or his initials, or a date (91?), or... Nothing under the other end I assume? And, turning to the present, do we have an agreed protocol for leaving messages in concertinas? How significant an intervention warrants a message? What details are to be recorded? Ink (black?) or pencil? Owners and repairers? Terry
  13. This instrument didn't come from Australia, did it John? There is a Bennett St in Newtown, just behind Sydney Uni. The initial could be a cursive T or J Terry
  14. When I worked at the Research School of Physical Sciences at ANU, we used to send new apprentices down to the stores for a "long felt want". Later, we'd send them down for a "short weight". The storemen would tell them to wait over there and then send them back, sometimes totally mystified. The storemen probably got a bit sick of us, although it must have made a change from the left-handed screwdrivers and the metric shifting spanners.
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