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Little John

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About Little John

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    Chatty concertinist

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  1. Not necessarily. You will have developed bellows control and got used to the feel of buttons under your fingers, so it should be quicker second time around. I started on the EC myself (I didn't know duets existed when I got my first). I'm very interested in harmonising tunes. Whilst it can be done on the EC, for most people it comes more naturally to separate the melody from the accompaniment. I made the transition to Crane duet after about two years. LJ
  2. As Geoff points out, there are 14 buttons to the octave which means you can have both Eb and D#, and likewise both Ab and G#. With meantone tuning these will be tuned differently. Tuned to meantone an English can still play in all keys from three flats to four sharps, which is surely sufficient for most mortals! But to answer your question about Anglo-style buttons on an English. Yes, it's vanishingly rare but I know of at least one. Steve Turner's English has five buttons at the bottom end which have Anglo action. There isn't a clear logic to them (I've played it) but the aim seems to be to extend the range downward without making the instrument too large. On my own Crane system duet (which is closely related to the English) I have four Anglo buttons. Three are to extend the range downward without increasing the size. The fourth is to give me a choice of Eb or D# as it's tuned to fifth comma meantone. (It doesn't have the "duplications" of an English so it's "limited" to keys from two flats to three sharps. That's hardly a limitation at all, except occasionally an E minor tune calls for a B major chord; hence the D#.) LJ
  3. Yes, I've watched it a couple of times in the past. It's one of the things that convinced me to try mean tone tuning. And, so far, I've only tried 1/5th comma so I can't comment either! Yes, I'd particularly like to hear a comparison of 1/4 comma and 1/5th comma. Or even just hear of the experience of someone who has both. LJ
  4. That is also what I have done on my Crane duet; albeit tuned to fifth comma rather that quarter comma. (Although I might try quarter comma in the future.) This is what I've done on my Crane (except for the other way round). I have Eb on the pull and D# on the push. In two years with mean tone I haven't found any tune or song I can't play with this tuning. Geoff suggested quarter comma might be too extreme when playing with other instruments. Do you find it so? What led you to using quarter comma rather than fifth comma tuning? LJ
  5. I've had this for decades. Rarely used it in the past and never use it now. It's sloppily put together, seemingly from whatever bits he could easily lay his hands on. There are much better sources available nowadays, both printed and online. For example, Paul Hardy's tune book - free online and only £8 for a paper copy which is nicely set out and, with its spiral binding, lies flat in use. It has something of the order of 600 or 800 tunes. If you want Morris Dance tunes they are all available on the Morris Ring website; not just the poor selection in Raven's book. LJ
  6. Not sure you'll find one in Bb, but you might find a tenor-pitched one in F. I think they were produced for playing Eb parts from brass band scores (whilst the trebles played the Bb parts in C). My bass English played in F - again I assume for playing Eb bass parts - but I couldn't get on with it so I had the B and Bb reeds swapped. Result? It now plays in C but with the notes one row higher than you would expect. I can cope better with that than playing a "transposing instrument". (Although I can happily transpose! Illogical, but that's just how my brain works.) LJ
  7. This is an interesting comment. In theory 1/4 comma should sound better because the thirds are pure. I have experience only of 1/5 comma tuning, so I'd be interested if anyone with experience of both 1/5 and 1/4 comma has a view. Likewise, I haven't had any comments about the tuning from other players. On the second point, I play mainly in the "English" keys of G and D. For these, centring the tuning on A (to match ET) is best as it minimises the deviation from ET. So, like Paul, I can give an A at 440Hz. Actually, it would probably make no difference if you gave them A instead of E. Your A would be only a couple of cents different from what they would expect, and apparently most people can't tell the difference if it's less then about 20 cents. Even in the keys closest to ET (G and D in my case) some notes are almost 10 cents different from ET, but as the general experience in this thread and elsewhere attests, no-one seems to notice. LJ
  8. I have to confess I am not familiar with it (other than as a concept). I, too, find the diagrams hard to read. For me it would be better to rotate the right hand a quarter turn clockwise and the left hand a quarter turn anti-clockwise. That way you can extend your hands in front of you and imagine your fingers over the keyboard. That is how pretty well other concertina layout is shown. But to get to the point, the more common layout ("bi-directional") would be familiar to anyone who comes from a piano background. Maybe that's why Crane and MacCann duets are also arranged this way. Anglos follow this pattern too; though I suspect that derives more from the idea of taking a melodeon style keyboard, cutting it down the middle and folding it back-to-back. LJ
  9. I would suggest you don't do anything hasty! There's a lot that can be read into what you've said. First thing. It's unlikely that both D# reeds have drifted out of tune to exactly the same extent. They are probably tuned correctly. You also indicate that you're playing Eb instead, implicitly because it is sharper than the D#. That's exactly what you would expect if your instrument is tuned to a mean tone temperament, as many English concertinas were (and as quite a few still are). Secondly, there are some styles of playing/singing where people prefer to make leading notes in particular sharper than they would naturally be. It sounds like your fiddler is one of those. But a fiddle (or voice) can make micro-adjustments to the pitch. A concertina can't. You'll have to find some other way round the problem. Either your fiddler will have to accept the pitch your concertina plays at, or you need to find some other solution, like you playing a harmony instead of both playing in unison. Whatever you do, don't ruin your concertina's tuning for the sake of one fiddler's preference of style! LJ
  10. This might be going slightly off-topic, but as a duet player this is of considerable interest to me. Often, with a duet, balance is a problem - the bass can overpower the melody. One "solution" is to fit a baffle to the left hand end to reduce the volume; but that's a bit of a fudge. I have owned several Crane duets over a period of more than 30 years, but it was only about six or seven years ago when I bought a 55 button Crabb that I realised where the problem lay. On that instrument the reeds all started to sound at the same pressure. It didn't have a balance problem. In the light of that I had the reeds on my Dipper re-set so that they all started to sound at the same low pressure. Big improvement. When Alex built me his #4 instrument he was careful to make all the reeds sound at the same pressure. That instrument has great balance. Getting the reeds sounding at the same pressure also increases the dynamic range of the instrument because you can play quietly. If the low reeds start to sound first you have to play fairly loud to get the high reeds to sound at the same time; but at any volume it seems that the low reeds, having started louder, stay louder. LJ
  11. So you might think, but the D/G melodeon and the G/D anglo are different, insofar as one tends to play the melody in the lower octave on the melodeon and in the upper octave on the concertina. So the fingering is not the same - e.g. in the lower octave you start with a G/A button but an octave higher it's a G/F# button and the A is on the B/A button. So don't imagine it's a straightforward transition from melodeon to concertina. Also I believe the relationship between the two rows is different from concertina to melodeon, so if you use any cross-row fingering that won't translate either. LJ
  12. I guess I'm "seasoned", so I'll throw in my two-penn'orth. Yes, it would probably work. All sorts of wierd and wonderful arrangements of notes can be made to "work". But what you are proposing is highly non-standard. It doesn't even seem to follow the basic anglo principle of having all the push notes in a given row play the chord of the key it's named after. If you learnt to play this system you wouldn't be able to play a "standard" anglo, and no-one else would be able to play this; making it essentially worthless. Your basic requirement is to be able to play both English and Irish music on one instrument. All I can say is that plenty of people play Irish on the standard C/G anglo, and plenty of people play English on the standard C/G. I'd suggest you make that your starting point. And actually, you could probably get both a decent G/D and a C/G for the cost of a custom special. LJ
  13. I haven't insured my concertinas for years. When I got my first one (almost forty years ago) I insured it with a specialist company (can't remember who) and later insured it as an extra on the household insurance. When I got a second concertina the cost was so high for the two that I calculated I could buy a new instrument every 15 years for the same cost as the premium. (In other words, the insurance premium for a year was 1/15 of the cost of a new instrument.) That's all a long time ago now, so things might have changed. I'd be interested to hear from anyone with experience as to whether the cost has become more reasonable, although even if it has I doubt I would bother to insure them now; not having had cause to make a claim in all that time. LJ
  14. Even a "standard" 42, 48 or 55 button Crane doesn't have an entirely consistent pattern. Playing in the keys of F, C, G and D majors (and associated modes) is easy because there is a consistent pattern. To play the "accidentals" you just move one row out. That is, in G and D you move one column out from the F natural to find the F sharp; and similarly for C# and Bb. But that breaks down in A major. The low G# is where you would expect it, next to the G natural. But an octave higher it is next to the A - effectively an Ab instead of G#. Playing in Eb gets worse because in the lower octave E and A are in the central column so for Eb and Ab (G#) you're suddenly jumping from the centre to the outside column and the whole scale pattern is altered. One just has to get used to a different pattern. (I think I'm getting there, but it's not automatic yet.) This is a bit sweeping. As I've mentioned elsewhere I have Bb2/B2 reeds (anglo style) where C#3 would normally be. Both notes are actually more convenient in that position than they would be if the scale were extended "to rule". Chords such as B minor, Bb major and G major (first inversion) are all easy to finger (all "spread", not as simple triads). And I use them so often I don't have to stop and think. So I would argue that these "out of pattern" notes are actually very handy in general. In fact I estimate that if I didn't have those two notes (and in such a convenient position) I would have to re-arrange the majority of my repertoire. LJ
  15. Yes, it's probably in old high pitch, so it may not have been tuned since it was made. This means it could well be tuned to a mean tone temperament rather than equal temperament. You can test this by playing G# and Ab together (also D# and Eb together). If they sound out of tune it's a good indication that the instrument is in mean tone tuning. This will make the triads (three-note chords) and the major thirds sound much sweeter than in equal temperament. LJ
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