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Little John

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About Little John

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    Chatty concertinist

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  1. Little John

    56 keys Tenor Treble English Concertina

    I agree; and an open fifth (or rather a succession of open fifths) held with one finger allows you to play a melody above it; but perhaps it's best to learn to walk before trying to run! LJ
  2. Little John

    56 keys Tenor Treble English Concertina

    Using the root triads - the triangles shown in these diagrams - is a starting point, but rather limited. Two variations to consider, right from the start in my view, are: 1. Spread chords. Starting with the triad (triangle) as shown, take out the middle note and instead play it an octave higher (on the other side). Can often sound mellower than the basic triad. 2. First inversion. Starting with the triad as shown take out the bottom note and play it an octave higher (on the other side). These two techniques, along with the root triad, will allow you to play a more satisfying accompaniment where the top note of the chord (or the bottom note or even both) follow a musical progression. LJ
  3. I know this is off-topic, but ... The UK has still not "gone metric", thankfully. Some weights and measures were metricated, but we have all sorts of delicious exceptions and contradictions. Road distances are still measured in miles and yards, draught beer and cider is still sold in pints. In bottles it has to be metric, but what is 564ml if not a pint? Sheet building materials are still 8 by 4 feet (to line up with existing joist spacing), but the thickness is quoted as 13 or 19mm. And I'm sure most builders still refer to timber measuring 100mm by 50mm as "a bit of four by two". LJ
  4. Little John

    For sale - Crabb 48 button Crane

    Now sold. Usual donation made to this forum. LJ
  5. This is a tune I tried to learn thirty odd years ago, but was defeated. I can't remember why, but I can guess. One thing is that it requires the B3 just below C4 (middle C). Since all standard Crane duets from 35 to 55 buttons start at C4 on the right that means picking it up on the left hand side - possible, but a bit of a nuisance. I overcame this in later years by re-tuning one C#4 reed to B3. The other reason was probably that the interval of a fourth, E5 - B4 on which it begins, is awkward for fingering. Over the years I've got more used to this sort of fingering; becoming quite flexible and no longer restricted by the one-finger-per-column approach which one naturally adopts to begin with. I might also add that the accompaniment would be quite limited without the B2 adaptation on the bass side, allowing a low B minor chord. (Standard Cranes start at C3 on the left.) The Holden Crane I'm playing has the B3 (right) and B2 (left) designed in from the start (along with Bb2 and A2, but those are not used in this recording). LJ
  6. Little John

    For sale - Crabb 48 button Crane

    I've owned this for about five years. Just over a year ago I had it serviced by Alex Holden, including new bushing boards and adjusting the button travel to make them uniform. It was also re-tuned to fifth comma mean tone. After that it became my "go-to" instrument. It's now surplus to requirements as I collected my new Holden 44 button Crane six weeks ago. Better it goes to a good home than gathers dust on my shelf! Photographs and button layout attached. You'll see that I have three buttons modified to extend the left hand down to A2 and the right hand down to B3. These were done professionally, weighting the reed tips with solder, so are easily reversible should you wish it. The raised metal ends, action and reed frames are all aluminium, making it a beautifully light instrument to handle. There are a number of recordings with it on my Instagram account. Here is one: To identify the other recordings on this concertina (all more recent than this) just look for the plain black bellows frames. I'm looking for about £1350. Buyer chooses carrier and pays postage. Includes a padded gig bag. Crabb 48 button Crane.pdf LJ
  7. Little John

    Quebec Concertinist

    YouTube says the video is unavailable.
  8. Little John

    position while playing effecting tuning

    That's right. If the Dipper was tuned to be in pitch at a reasonably high volume then it would be slightly sharp (if anything) at low volume. Maybe the "pros" could detect it was out of tune but mistook sharp for flat. Or maybe they were just having a laugh! LJ
  9. Little John

    wtb Wakker W-2

    I suggested I might need a taller hand rest on my new Alex Holden instrument. In the end it is the same height as the old one and it doesn't matter. I think the shorter button travel achieves the same effect as having a taller rest. In any event, this new instrument is extremely easy to play. [Pinky / pinkie - I don't think it matters. In either case the plural would be "pinkies" by the curiosities of the English language!] LJ
  10. Little John

    wtb Wakker W-2

    A slant that brought the buttons closer to the little finger would do that, but the Hayden slant does the opposite - it takes the buttons nearest the little finger furthest away. LJ
  11. Little John

    wtb Wakker W-2

    Some people on some systems seem to prefer not to use their little fingers (pinkies). I play Crane and was inclined that way at first (probably because I came to it from the English), but in the end found it was much better to train myself to use my little fingers. Looking at the note chart for the Hayden I don't see how you could play a scale smoothly without using your little finger - there's always a point where it requires four buttons consecutively in the same row. So if I were thinking to play a Hayden I'd go for the layout that allowed easy use of all four fingers. LJ
  12. Little John

    London Pride

    It is, indeed, a lovely tune. Far be it from me to argue with the mighty JK, but this version seems to be closer to Idbury Hill (Bledington) than the Longborough tune. The Black Book also gives an Oddington dance of the name London Pride, but no tune. However, neither Idbury Hill nor London Pride have "slows", so JK must have invented the C music! LJ
  13. Little John

    A rare Crabb Crane

    Looks like a chevron to me! Have you measured it?
  14. Little John

    Hayden duet that favors flat keys?

    Well, if you were playing just on your own the obvious answer would be to transpose up or down a semitone to a playable key. (E.g. change Db to either C or D). But would this be too difficult for the rest of the orchestra? LJ
  15. So here it is! My new Holden Crane. It's described in detail on Alex's blog so I won't repeat it here. You'll also find on his blog a medley of tunes. They were recorded only minutes after I'd made the instrument's acquaintance and I was just playing whatever came into my head, so you'll have to forgive a few slips. I've actually had this for a while, but I collected it from Alex on my way to a long holiday so I've been unable to post anything until now; which is probably a good job as I'd have just gushed with enthusiasm for my new acquisition. Instead I've had a fortnight to give it a thorough work-out so I'm able to give a much more considered assessment: this is, quite simply, the best duet I've ever played*. The bellows are supple: no need to "break them in" - they were as flexible as you could wish from the outset. Capacious too - I can play long passages in one direction even using a lot of heavy chording. The reeds are very sensitive. They respond evenly and quickly at very low pressure, so that one can play really quietly but still maintain crispness. They also have a wide dynamic range, so plenty of volume when you need it. This means I can play quietly to sing against then ramp up the volume for a musical interlude. The balance is also excellent. A frequent (almost ubiquitous) complaint of duets (and to some extent anglos) is that the lower notes can overpower the high notes. That's not the case with this one. Certainly from my position as the player (and that's usually the worst position!) the melody never gets lost. Tone is a subjective matter, and Alex generally prefers not to describe the sound of his instruments. I would probably say it sounds "solid and full". Others who have heard the recordings have said variously "what a brilliant rich sound", "very nice, full and open sounding", "marvellous sound ... I very much like the bass side", "Wow! Even on the phone this sounds lovely!" Alex, despite his usual reticence, says in his blog "I am really happy with how rich and well balanced it sounds (even more so in person than recorded on a built in phone mic)". Finally, as a general point, it's really easy to play. The light weight and the lightness of the action contribute to that, but I think it's the result of several factors working together that make it so. I've had the concept of this instrument for many years, and Alex has translated it perfectly into a reality. Having played it for hours, day after day, I can find no fault with it and there's nothing I would change about it. LJ *Possibly the best concertina I've ever played too, but a strong contender for that would have to be the special English built by C&R Dipper which I sold about fifteen years ago when I realised I had neither the time nor the talent to be proficient on two different systems.