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Little John

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Chatty concertinist

Chatty concertinist (4/6)

  1. OK, so there is a definite "handedness" with playing guitar, melodeon etc., but I don't fully understand why. When I was young I was taught the piano. I learnt scales with both hands separately, and also together in parallel and opposite directions. I don't remember it seeming any more difficult with the left hand than the right. Then in my twenties I taught myself the English concertina. There is no distinction between the two hands, and again I never had any sense that somehow it was harder with my left hand than my right. My understanding is that if you play classical violin you have to play with the bow in your right hand, whether you're right handed or not, because the sight of a bow going the wrong way in an orchestra would be unacceptable. (The violinists have to play exactly the same phrasing in order that their bows move in concert.) Is it any harder to play the other way round if you start that way from the very beginning? So could it be that convention has taken us in one direction and we can't conceive of it otherwise? Could the convention have equally developed tho other way round?
  2. This problem isn't inevitable. I've had four Crabb Cranes in the past (two cheap 35 buttons and two more expensive instruments). None of them suffered this problem. Why? Because the Crabb family actually played Cranes and so realised how to set them up properly. Most other makers and restorers don't. Try this. Hold down a bass button and a treble button at the same time with no pressure on the bellows. Slowly start to press (or pull) the bellows. Which note sounds first? If it's the low note (and if that's true across several different buttons) then the reeds need re-setting and/or re-valving so they all start to sound at the same pressure. You might still need to adopt some of the other playing techniques as well, but a properly set-up instrument will give you a head start.
  3. Very well. I had it serviced by Colin Dipper when I first acquired it. It's got a fairly gentle tone because of the baffles, but you can wind it up to get some volume. The previous owner used it for morris dancing. That was a long time ago, so it's likely he was playing solo. Had he been competing against melodeons he would probably have been tempted to remove the baffles. In truth I hardly play it as I'm primarily a Crane duet player, but I've kept it for sentimental reasons.
  4. I have what would appear to be an almost identical baritone. It's numbered 22888, which puts it in the period of the lost ledgers (about 1895 - 1905). Mine retains the original leather baffles. The only other difference is mine has gold/brass buttons for all the Cs.
  5. That's what I would do; so you get all three notes of the F major chord with nothing missing and nothing duplicated. I would, but only in specific circumstances. 6/4 is terminology used in baroque music, more usually called a second inversion nowadays. And 6/3 is a first inversion. Both useful, particularly to give a flowing bass line. So, for example, I would play Phil Cunningham's Miss Rowan Davies with chords G, F#(6/3), Em, D(6/4), C, B(6/3), Am, D etc. Equivalently, using (for example) D(f#) to represent a D major chord with F# as the lowest note, G, D(f#), Em, G(d), C, G(b), Am, D etc.
  6. I doubt there's any special relationship between guitar and concertina. Lots of people play more than one instrument, and if you're going to do that you might as well choose instruments which have very different characteristics; which the guitar and concertina do but so do lots of other pairings. I play mainly duet concertina, but I also play bouzouki, tenor guitar and fretless bass guitar. They are not generally interchangeable; it's horses for courses. In the past I have also played anglo, English and Crane duet; all at the same time (well, not literally). I gradually reduced to one system largely because there seemed to be no point in struggling with three when to 99% of listeners they all sound the same.
  7. There's a guy called Mark Morley-Fletcher (Play in the Zone) who does a lot of videos (YouTube) on this sort of stuff. I also get emails from him. Here's an extract from one on learning to play from memory: Most of the approaches that have been scientifically verified to improve learning actually reduce performance in the short-term. They only start to deliver the goods over periods of days and weeks So if you judge progress by whether your ability to play from memory improves during a practice session, then you’re holding yourself back. Don’t feel bad about this! It’s just part of being human. A study by Robert Bjork and Nate Kornell had students try two different practice strategies – one designed for short-term results, and the other optimised for long-term progress. Measurements confirmed that the students actually did better with the long-term strategy. But 80% of them (incorrectly) rated it as feeling less effective. Elsewhere he states (if my memory serves me correctly) that the very process of learning by ear helps to embed the music better in your brain. LJ
  8. A concertina has one major advantage over an organ - the air pressure can be varied to give dynamics to the sound that are not possible on a reed organ.
  9. If my rough calculation is about right, that would but them approximately eight cents sharp. I have read that most people won't notice until the difference is about 20 cents (though I think others have suggested 10 cents). The observation is consistent with my own experience. My Cranes are tuned fifth comma mean tone; so some notes differ from equal temperament by as much as 17 cents, but no-one has ever said they sound out of tune.
  10. I can understand this. The main difference between my 44-button and my 45 button Crane is the left-hand A4 on the latter. It is useful, but not essential. My comment was based on two factors, which I think we have discussed before: 1. The vast majority of tunes sit in the range D4 - B5, which the RHS of the Peacock covers. 2. The Peacock's range C3 - G4 on the LHS (same as a 48-button Crane) gives you enough notes to form any chord you are likely to need. The thing that would cause me most trouble would be the C#4 missing on the RHS, but that's true of a 46-button Hayden too. And of course, there are always ways round these small difficulties. For some of us, having a small, light instrument outweighs the slight advantage a few extra notes could give.
  11. I don't play Hayden and I don't have any experience of the models you discuss, but from my experience as a Crane duet player I would say the 42 buttons of the Peacock give you all the notes you really need.
  12. Playing melody-plus-harmony on the Anglo is fairly similar to playing it on a duet, but with the added complication that for each note or phrase you have to work out whether the best combination of notes is available on the push or the pull. So if you found the duet too difficult you might find the Anglo even more difficult. But it depends to some extent on what aspect of playing the duet you found difficult. If it was co-ordinating the two hands that's likely to apply to the Anglo too. If it was the button layout (say Maccann or Jeffries) then you might be better trying the Crane or Hayden instead. (You don't say which system you tried.) Yes. But the English is rather like a guitar. It's easy to play chords and it's easy to play melody but putting them together is ten times harder than either on its own. It you learn the melody first you have to change all the fingering to accommodate the chords; and vice versa. At the end of the day, SEANC is right: You can learn each hand independently then put them together without any fingering issues. As with all systems, it's best to get melody and chords working together as soon as possible.
  13. Should we? Equal temperament allows us to play equally in all 12 keys, but in every single one the major third is horribly sharp. And who needs 12 keys? Six is enough for most of us (two flats through to three sharps*) and this allows any instrument to be tuned mean tone**, which sounds much sweeter than equal temperament. * Giving the major keys of C, D, F, G, A and Bb; plus all the related minors and other modes. ** As indeed they were, at least in the nineteenth century.
  14. Indeed it is, but that's what I have in Holden numbers 4 and 10. There is a difference in tone, but small enough that most people either can't hear it or can't describe it. To me the difference is clear all through, just listening on my laptop: the metal one is brighter and more open sounding. To some extent that's what conventional wisdom would tell us, but with my two Holdens the opposite is true (at least to my ears): the metal one is the more gentle sounding.
  15. When reading threads like this I often wonder whether, for those seeking 40-odd buttons so as to have (more-or-less) every note in both directions, the player wouldn't be better off changing to a duet. A small duet (42 - 46 buttons) is adequate for most folk music, and is probably as small and light as an anglo. It wouldn't suit ITM players, but for harmonic-style players a lot of the issues of "do I suck or blow at this point" vanish. (I await the brickbats!)
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