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Little John

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Everything posted by Little John

  1. 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!)
  2. Harmony is very important to me. Early on I changed from English to duet (Crane) so as to be able to harmonise more easily. I agree to a fair extent with David: but I think he's too dismissive of chords. They don't have to be "piles of notes": just two on the left hand (along with a different one in the melody) creates a chord, and a single note on the left usually implies a chord. I usually think in terms of chords as a starting point for accompaniment, often choosing first or second inversions for variety and to make the bass line interesting. But the melody often doesn't lend itself to this* at which point I'm likely to change to a counter-melody for a few notes. *Most tunes, and especially the older ones, were written as pure melodies. They need to be good and interesting in their own right to survive. Some modern tunes, pop songs etc. seem to start from a chord progression then add a dull melody which fits the harmonic structure; and to that extent I agree with Simon: I appreciate a good melody played unadorned (I do it myself occasionally) but I also think a sensitive accompaniment can enhance a melody.
  3. Before throwing away thousands of pounds on a bespoke instrument that would have no resale value, why not try an English concertina? Triad chords are easily formed with just two fingers, and fifths ("open chords") can be played with one finger. Thirds are extremely easy too. A modest instrument won't cost anything like a custom instrument, and if you don't take to it you can sell it for something close to what you paid for it. If you like it, you have the option to expand into more adventurous (and rewarding) accompaniment.
  4. To be honest, I don't know much about this. I was just going on a vague memory the Northumbrian pipes were in G, along with this Wikipedia article. That indicates the chanter as being in G from the earliest reference in about 1695. Probably not modern concert pitch of A=440Hz. Thinking about it I seem to recall Tom McConville having a fiddle tuned a tone down to F; very likely for playing with pipers if their instruments were in F. Perhaps Northumbrian piping has a tradition of notating in G whilst sounding in F (not unlike the Highland great pipes which are notated in A but sound closer to Bb).
  5. Interesting, though I find it hard to believe the story about players in Northumberland preferring G and D because they learnt tunes from Irish radio. A more simple explanation is that their local Northumbrian pipes have a natural scale of G with drones tuned G D G. Plus the fact (noted elsewhere in the link) that G and D are natural scales for fiddlers to use. All of which pre-dates radio!
  6. As the Chidley layout seems much more sensible, I'd have thought the temptation would be to go the other way: convert Maccanns to Chidley!
  7. That wouldn't be the case for my duet playing. I would almost never play the same note at the same pitch on both hands. I'd also play the same note in different octaves only infrequently - I deliberately avoid it in order to keep the overall sound from getting too heavy - apart from the occasional unison passage of maybe three or four notes; but it would be odd to get that "wet" effect just for a few notes.
  8. I envy your opportunity to try this out. I'm sure I would find it fascinating, but in the end I have to go with your later sentiment: but if I had come across it much earlier I would have been sorely tempted to make the change! I don't really think about it now, but in my earlier days I tended to think of it as right-to-left: D E F (up a row) G A B etc. I also wondered why the original design wasn't right-to-left: C D E (up a row) F G A etc.; ie why the "D" and "E" columns are interchanged to give the 1-3-2 pattern of fingering. My conclusion lay in the right hand accidental column. If you think of them as being related to the adjacent column then the CDE pattern would yield Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and Cbb (yes, C double flat). The actual CED pattern gives D#, G#, C#, F# and Bb which is much more intuitive. I actually played a mouth-blown version of this once. The keys were hexagonal so there were no gaps. However following the link and studying the layout makes it clear that you couldn't convert a Crane as even a single chromatic octave takes 7 columns.
  9. If this is what you want to play then the English was the right choice. But it begs the question “why would you just want to duplicate what you can already do on the fiddle?” The concertina opens up other possibilities such as adding accompaniment. On the English a simple but effective start is to add thirds or fifths below the melody. Don’t dismiss “oom-pah”. I did for many years but it was a mistake. For some tunes, even slow ones, it can be the best approach. It doesn’t have to be used exclusively; it can be interspersed with single notes or countermelodies in the same tune. Finally, as others have mentioned, for a given budget you will get a better quality vintage English or duet (Crane is my choice) than Anglo.
  10. That's good to hear! I started on the English about 40 years ago before I'd heard of duets. The Crane is similar in some respects to the English which made it the natural choice when I changed over.
  11. From my reading of the ledgers, it's the one below that's marked "SP". 33011 is shown as a model 21 with "NP" which I think indicates "nickel plate" ends.
  12. This might confirm that it was intended as a band instrument. Brass instruments are "transposing" instruments - the note that sounds isn't the one that's written. So a trumpet for example sounds a Bb when the written note is a C. I'd suggest your concertina was configured similarly to sound at the same pitch as a trumpet or flugelhorn. Then quite likely it was tuned up a tone for someone who wanted a normal treble.
  13. It's 6 1/4" AF. The size reference in the title alludes to its having the note range of a 48 button English baritone in a box the size of a standard treble.
  14. Here it is, then, Alex Holden's number 10! It's everything you would expect from Alex: beautifully crafted, gorgeous to look at and wonderful to play. He's just posted a blog about making it, which includes a video compilation of some tunes and an explanation of the layout. You can see it here.
  15. I have a 19-button G/D specially made for me by Andrew Norman. Measures 4 15/16" across the flats. I'll PM you.
  16. D4 to B5, but yes, that's correct. I know that of the 120 tunes in Playford and Townsend I looked at 96% stayed within that range. And I don't remember seeing one in Hardy that went above B5 (though I wasn't looking specifically). I suspect it's mainly modern tunes and transposed* tunes that go below D4. (*For example Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, which goes down to B in the E minor version but was originally in G minor - as you mentioned in another post.)
  17. Quick update on this. I was prompted yesterday to look at Paul Hardy's Session Book. In the first 41 pages (over 120 tunes) not a single one went above C6. So that's a random sample of about 250 tunes from three sources that don't stray more than two octaves above middle C. On the other hand, in contrast to the other two sources, eight of Paul Hardy's tunes went below middle C; three of them down to G3, the bottom note on a fiddle.
  18. I once owned no. 9155, a 48 button Crane dated 1934. It had aluminium reed frames, aluminium ends and aluminium action. I believe it was because, as players themselves, the Crabb family appreciated the value of lightweight instruments.
  19. The extra eight notes would give you the flexibility to play most tunes in both the low range and the high range. You would sometimes miss the top B and C that you would have on a 48 button baritone, but there's a lot you'd still be able to play. However, if the main aim is to be able to play in the low range that probably doesn't matter; in which case, like you, I would favour the smaller, lighter instrument. [I play, only occasionally, a 48 button Wheatstone baritone. My new Crane duet has exactly the same range G2 - C6.]
  20. Indeed, and if you put it in place of the Ab on the RHS it's also under your little finger. But it's also on the same side as the C a fifth above so you can hold down a fifth to support a melody above (which is what I used to do before changing from English to Crane duet).
  21. Are you sure? I assume the lowest row in your note chart is F2 G2 B2 Bb2, in which case the F is a fourth below the Bb. On the other side I assume you have C#3 C3 A2 Ab2, so substituting the F for the Ab gives C#3 C3 A2 F2 with the F a fifth below the C, on the same side as it would be if the instrument was extended further down.
  22. Ah, so for consistency then. That makes sense. And you'd probably never want a D# that low down anyway. By the same logic you might want to swap the lowest F over with the Ab. That way you get the F next to the A and C; just like the Bb is next to the D and F.
  23. I'm not sure why you would do that. Both the Bb and the D# would be out of position. My earlier suggestion to replace the D# with Bb on a tenor-treble is because there isn't s Bb there at all on a TT, and a Bb would be much more useful to you (and in a convenient position). But on a baritone-treble you have it, and in its natural position.
  24. Given this comment, I'd suggest you consider having the low D# replaced with Bb. That might give you everything you need. A good repairer could either lower the existing reeds by weighting the tips, or source (or make) new ones so that you can keep the originals. Your Wheatstone is probably a better instrument than the Lachenal, and smaller and lighter too than a baritone or baritone-treble.
  25. It's not quite that simple. I have an F-bass which I converted to a C-bass by having the B and Bb reeds swapped over. But later I found that left me with Db where one would expect D#. I think you would have the same problem with two of the accidentals.
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