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    Anglo, English, Melodeon, English-Language Trad
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    Town Creek, Montgomery County, NC, USA

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GregHankins's Achievements


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  1. I don't want to speak for Dan, 'cause he's the expert, but House Dance makes clear a lot of the traditional octave players were in fact playing 20b instruments, in many cases, of German style or manufacture. He has this great photo of a traditional Irish player with a great, big ol' 20b, double-reeded box. Mary Ann Carolan (1902-1985) holding her German concertina at the Drogheda Folk Festival, c.1977. Photograph by Joe Dowdall, courtesy of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. "Mrs Carolan played a C/G German concertina that had double banks of reeds tuned an octave apart, which meant that when playing in octaves she was sounding four reeds for each melody note, which gave a full, accordion-like sound. In a 1985 RTÉ interview she makes it quite clear that volume (one of the benefits of octave playing) was an important part of her dance music." – Dan Worrall, House Dance He also noted that she tend to play reels in single note mode, rather than in octaves, in order to keep up her speed. In my limited experience, if you're playing in one of the two home keys and aren't playing flash stuff with a bunch of accidentals, 20 buttons is plenty sufficient for playing in octaves. Dan's book has a tutorial in the style, and it's really quite intuitive. Playing in C, you drop to the G row for the higher notes (typically making the shift on G). Playing in G, you can jump up to the C row for the low notes. The only complicated bit of it is that the notes aren't always on the same button on the left and right hands. I've been using it mostly in C, but I'm working on a couple of G tunes so that I have that down as well. I'm too much of a newbie to have played around with D and other more complicated keys, yet. Greg
  2. Fellow newbie here. If you love the sound, you might want to stick with what you've got. I haven't played a Hohner so I can't really comment on those. I started on a Bastari and quickly moved on to a Rochelle, which I bought secondhand on Cnet -- (shameless plug) and which I am about to put up for sale on Cnet, having moved on to a Lachenal. I liked the Rochelle much better than the Bastari, because it has plenty of air in its big bellows (important for newbies -- particularly for newbies playing chords -- who haven't learned all they need to know about how to avoid running out of air.) The action is solid and uses the standard spacing, which is good when you want to move up. The Rochelle also sounds good. It is, however, big, black, and homely. You can buy one new from the Button Box for $415, and, if you later want to buy one of their Morse concertinas, you can trade it back for credit. Or you can probably pick up one a good bit cheaper used on Cnet. Even if you don't trade the Rochelle back to the Button Box, you're likely to get more for it used that for a Hohner, IMHO. I've bought three concertinas that have been shipped through the mail (as well as one melodeon). None have been damaged, but three of the boxes have required that I open them up and clear a bit of fluff out of the reeds that got stirred up while being tossed about in the postal or UPS truck. It was not hard to do that, but it would be scary if you're not the sort whose comfortable fiddling in the innards of a strange machine. Coincidentally, the Rochelle was the only one of my four boxes that didn't require post-shipping fluff extraction. Good luck! And welcome to the club. Greg
  3. I have been reading (and listening) with great pleasure to Dan Worrall's book House Dance. I highly recommend it, both as a wonderful window into concertina history and an education in how to play the Anglo like the real old timers. I am a newbie on the concertina; I don't think I'd even qualify as a toddler, yet. But as someone who has played harmonica for years, and who acquired a melodeon shortly before acquiring an anglo concertina, I began my concertina playing without much in the way of instruction. Since I already understood the structure of the scale and how the buttons worked, I just dove in, transferring some of my harmonica repertoire over to the squeezebox. Rather quickly, and instinctively, I started playing some tunes in octaves -- at first along the row, and then discovering that I could move down to the G row in order to gain notes above A on the left hand. The same trick work on the right hand, too! Eventually, messing around on the web, I found that this octave style was indeed one of the ways folks traditionally approached the instrument, and I discovered Worrall's House Dance, which focuses on just that style of play. Octave playing was once the most common approach to the anglo (or German concertina), used to gain volume and reinforce the beat when a single unamplified concertina might be the only source of music for thirty couples dancing across the dirt floor of a settler's home in South Africa -- or across a wooden platform laid down at some Irish crossroads. I mentioned "listening" to House Dance. The "book" is delivered on CD as a set of well-illustrated web pages and associated audio files. So, as you read about the differences in the octave playing of Scan Tester and William Kimber, you can actually listen to recordings that illustrate the point. The first six chapters of House Dance provide a historical exploration of the concertina's place providing music for dance in the late 1800s and early 1900s in England, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. The second six chapters look in depth at the playing of traditional concertina artists from each of these countries -- and provide a tutorial in the octave style. The huge number of recordings that accompany the text are a wonderful resource. And these are not recordings that you're going to find on Spotify. (I know; I've looked!) They are from private collections, museums, and other hard to find sources. In addition to music, there are also recordings of interviews with old-time players, talking about the octave style and the house dance context in which it was used. The whole thing is just a flat out marvelous piece of work -- and not just for the historian. There's plenty to learn about playing the anglo in the "pages" of House Dance. I've gone on enough. I ordered my copy of the CD from the Button Box. But there are other places to get it. Worrall's website will point you to the options. All the profits from sale of the book go to the English Folk Dance and Song Society. It's just an excellent piece of work. Dan deserves plenty of thanks for creating it. Happy Squeezing! Greg
  4. Henrik, As sidesqueeze notes, you do have to pay for thr "pro" version to get all the nice features. I just checked, and it appears that Anytune will in fact do cents adjustments. I have not, however, had occasion to use that function myself. I also use Amadeus (on my Mac) for various audio chores and find it a very capable -- and relatively inexpensive -- application. Greg
  5. Ultimately it was the harmonica that did it. My daughter bought me an 18-button Stagi EC for Christmas after she and I saw Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangson at a folk festival and spoke with Cindy after the show about her concertina. She recommended English. Though I learned to get tunes out of it, the pull of the clawhammer banjo was stronger. Then I gave up playing any instrument altogether for a few years. A year or so ago, I began a binge of listening to a lot of English folk music and was intrigued by the sound of the melodeon and concertina. I bought a Hohner pokerwork and dusted off the Stagi. But I was particularly fond of the concertina playing of John Spiers. A little research established this was an anglo. I got a Bastari from eBay, fixed its buttons, and tried it. A lifetime of casual harmonica playing (I have them in the glove box, in my brief case, own one in every key) -- straight melody-playing, not blues harp -- meant that the Anglo felt completely natural to me. I was sold. Even playing in octaves comes pretty naturally, because my mind is hard wired to the way the scale works on the row. I've learnt basic chords. I find myself picking up my concertina in preference to any other instrument. I eventually bought a Rochelle from a Cnet members, and have a Lachenal on order from Greg Jowaisis.
  6. I use an iPad app called Anytune, which allows one to independently change the pitch and/or speed of anything in your iTunes library. Vocals sound pretty goofy, but the instrumentals work well enough for the purpose. The app has a variety of additional functions, for example, and equalizer that can be used to help bring a certain instrument to the fore in a mix.
  7. I forgot to mention, for those interested in sampling MWR (and Bishop), in addition to the YouTube videos, there are at least eight MWR albums on Spotify, as well as his two "Songlines" recordings that feature a variety of artists performing traditional songs from the UK, Australia, and the US.
  8. What a great clip! I had seen some of the videos from that gig, but not this one. Thanks, Cee, for pointing it out. And thanks to Geoff for identifying the concertina (Lord knows, I haven't figured out what to do with all the buttons on my Rochelle; I am without doubt too old to deal with more than twice that many!) I note that Ms. Bishop has a second concertina at her feet, along with the PA, but I couldn't tell from that clip whether it's an anglo. I expect to be watching all the videos from that engagement, so perhaps it will come into play in another video. I have only discovered MWR in the past few months, and I love his selection of material, his delivery (even if it's a bit old-school in this age of Mumfords), and the really great accompaniments, most of them featuring Ms. Bishop on one or another squeezybox. Her deft but understated playing is a great model of how to use the capability of the Concertina to deliver long, moving chords as a foil for guitar and voice. It's not the only way to use the instrument with voice, of course (my other favorite being John Spiers, who offers a totally different take just as perfectly matched to a completely different type of vocal delivery and repertoire). But I think there's a lot to learn from Iris Bishop. Greg
  9. Thanks, all for those responses. Do we know whether Ms. Bishop's McCann's are Wheatstone, Jefferies, or Lachenal models? This article by Robert Gaskins seems to suggest that Lachenal was the primary (and only "official") manufacturer of the McCann. http://www.concertina.com/maccann-duet/#gaskins-which-duet But a quick search of the Buy and Sell forum here turns up as many Wheatstones. I'm curious about the provenance of Ms. Bishop’s instruments. Thanks! Greg
  10. Hi All! I have been listening to Martyn Wyndham-Read and enjoying very much the concertina playing of Iris Bishop -- not only her gift for accompaniment, but the actual sound of her concertina(s). The great Google tells me she plays mostly duet, though also some anglo. But it hasn't reveled to me, as of yet, any details about those instruments. Given that she apparently does a bit of teaching and workshopping, I'm hopeful someone here could shed a bit of light on that point. Thanks! Greg
  11. Sound does get technical pretty quickly, doesn't it? But perhaps some useful -- though by no means perfect -- information can be gleaned from what's already out there in the world. For example, I've read that the action on a Lachenal can be a bit noisy and have seen listings that note steps taken to quiet the clackiness. But viewing this (Collin Botts on a Lachenal of unspecified vintage, admittedly in a big hall) http://youtu.be/HpCBdONhtjk Helped me understand just how clacky things can get. And this (Gary Coover on a 30 Button Harrington C/G Anglo) http://youtu.be/O9fwEY7PBhI is certainly "honkier" than this (Jody Kruskal on a Bastari 30-button C/G anglo) http://youtu.be/nHA323zUixc That's all useful information for a novice. Botts' action is too clack for my taste, so I'd be looking for a Lachenal that has been dampened a bit. The Bastari is sweet, maybe too sweet, if you want a bit of honk in you concertina. So, there may be some information to be gleaned from this sort of informal survey, if we don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. Great thinking on this; thanks for all the replies. Greg Edits: I tried to embed the YouTube videos in the post, but had no luck figuring out how to do that. If anyone knows the trick -- assuming the board allows it -- drop me a note about how to accomplish it, and I'll add them.
  12. This is certainly true for me, and I wondered immediately whether this is the phenomenon behind Stephen Chambers' initial response above -- i.e., it's hard to tell what a concertina really sounds like from a sound file mostly because concertinas sound a good bit different when you're the one playing them, than when you're the one sitting across the room. I have experimented a bit myself to determine whether this is the case, both by asking my daughter, sitting across the room, what she is hearing, and by recording my playing. A trivial example: I am very sensitive to the movement of a tune from the right hand to the left. Listening to a recording, I don't notice that at all -- nor did my daughter perceive the transition. I do think a collection of sound files would be useful -- or perhaps an effort to identify the concertina being played in postings to the tune of the month and videos section of the forum. Those of us who live in a concertina desert, and without reasonable prospect of visiting the Button Box, would definitely benefit, as we contemplate where to go next after our Bastaris and Rochelles. Thanks for all the interesting responses. Greg
  13. Ben of this parish has a metal ended Wheatstone anglo listed here and on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Wheatstone-C-G-30-Button-Anglo-concertina-/251573534900? He describes it as making "a lovely Wheatstone sound." This set me to looking for what that sound might be. Turns out, it is harder than one might think to find a sound file or Youtube that is useful in that regard. I eventually wound up on the Button Box anglo listing, where I found a 1952 Wheatstone Anglo (Ben's is a 1953), and, right above it, a Clover, which has accordion reeds. Both have videos. Both sound pretty darned similar to my ears. Button Box note that the Wheatstone have steel reeds in aluminum frames, as would the Clover. So that may explain the similarity in sound. So, for those of you who have had a listen, is this a typical Wheatstone sound? I've certainly heard "honkier" concertinas, where this one is pretty-sounding. Has the Clover essentially duplicated this 50s-era Wheatstone sound? Are older Wheatstones (perhaps with brass frames) honkier? For newbies with no practical chance to play a lot of boxes, it would be terribly useful to have a collection of sound files of various makes. I know, of course, that there's likely to be a lot of variation amongst makers and eras, so perhaps this is impractical. Thanks for your thoughts. Greg
  14. I used silicone fuel line tubing to replace the hardened original bits of rubber. But I like the idea of surgical tubing, if it's a bit springier. The fuel tubing doesn't have much give. My current plan is to order the proper busing felt and try that -- perhaps adding some depth to the existing bushing board. If that doesn't keep the buttons more upright, then the brass tubes and rods is the next tactic. Greg
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