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Little John

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Everything posted by Little John

  1. I don't know, but it sounds very similar to my Wheatstone single-action bass. LJ
  2. Similarly I've sold three this year. All sales went well. Members of this site seem to be a pretty decent, honest lot! Two payments were by bank transfer and one by cheque. You end up paying the banks whichever method you choose - a fact of life I suggest. Cheers, LJ
  3. I rather agree with that. The grip on the strap between the thumb and the palm is firmest point of contact with the instrument. LJ
  4. I don't know about that - it looks fairly similar to my Wheatstone baritone which is 7 1/4" across the flats. Either way, I would suggest selling this as it is. If it's sharp it's probably in old pitch and also mean-tone tuning which some people might wish to retain; or at least like to try out before deciding how much re-tuning to do. LJ
  5. Yes, the balance is one of the things I really love about it. By the way, if you're in Liverpool it was probably the 7.50 broadcast you saw. Alex's clip is from the 6.40 - 7.00 broadcast. I think (but I'd need to check) that the sound in the later one was a bit better. I'll see if I can post a clip sometime. LJ
  6. Alex himself is only 20 - 25 miles away, if he's not too busy making new instruments. But I expect you'd already thought of him. LJ
  7. That's right. I was in error in using the Pythagorean comma. I agree with Alex's figures (and hence Paul's too). The Pythagorean comma is what you get if you stack 12 pure fifths (the comma being the amount by which the note you return to is sharp of the starting note). The syntonic comma is what you get if you stack 4 pure fifths (the comma being the amount by which the resulting note is sharp of a pure major third). Yes, but technically I think ET is defined as the fifths being tempered by 1/12 of a Pythagorean comma. As I understand it, ET has a precise definition because it makes playing all keys identical, and 1/4 comma MT has a precise definition because it give pure (just) major thirds in the six usable keys; but the rest like 1/5 comma MT and 1/6 comma MT are essentially arbitrary. They are just nice fractions. No reason you couldn't opt for 2/9 comma, 2/11 comma, 3/14 comma or anything else you fancy. LJ
  8. Sounds like you're quite intimate with the instrument!
  9. Paul, it's quite simple really. On the basis of your table, on the right hand end D# will be -16.8 and on the left hand end Ab will be 19.6. The table simply increases (or decreases) by 2.8 every step. But note from other comments following your post that this might be closer to quarter comma than fifth comma; not that there's anything wrong with that, in fact the major thirds will be sweeter. LJ
  10. I think Alex's figures are "right" in an academic sense, but one needs to remember that all tuning systems are a compromise as soon as you want to play in more than one key and/or introduce harmony. Geoff's figures might be closer to sixth comma MT and Paul's close to quarter comma MT than to fifth comma, but all three will be better than ET. LJ
  11. I'm with Wolf on this. I've recorded different concertinas under exactly the same conditions - admittedly only on an iPhone - and whilst I can tell the difference, the timbres of the instruments and the differences between them bear little resemblance to the reality. Even traditional-reeded concertinas have a huge variety of tones, so it really is advisable to hear them in the flesh if possible before making a decision. Also, the feel of an instrument is something you can never get from a photograph or a description. LJ
  12. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm talking principally about the melody, though whatever happens in the melody would be reflected in the accompaniment. Let me clarify. Pipe music is normally written in the key of A without accidentals. The notes of the scale as written are G A B C D E F G A although the C is closer to C# and the G closer to G# (and F is F#). C and G are the third and seventh notes respectively of the key of A. When the music is transported to a concertina or accordion it can't play the third and seventh that the pipes play, so it has to approximate with either a C or a C# and a G or a G#. In my limited experience both are used, and often within a single tune. LJ
  13. It's true that is where the main point of contact is with the hand rest, but probably the strongest point of contact with the concertina is with the thumb end of the strap (not hand rest). The key, in my view, is to have the straps reasonably loose so that you can slide your hand in a bit if needed to reach particular buttons. In my (limited) observation of Hayden players it seems they don't use the little finger much if they can avoid it; but when they do they slide their hand through as described above. Take a look at the videos of Beaumont players on the Button Box website, and look closely at about 30 seconds in on the first video - you'll see what I mean. LJ
  14. I play a couple of pipe marches on the concertina, though Crane duet rather than English or Anglo. I don't see why it shouldn't work on an Anglo. One observation I'd make. On the highland pipe the thirds and sevenths are flatter than in most other tuning systems. This means on a fixed pitch instrument you have to choose whether to play the major or minor third/seventh. In fact on the two tunes I play, which I learnt by ear, both are employed at different points in the tune. For the tune attached I have the notes as transcribed for fiddle and these are consistent with what I learnt by ear: in the B music the first time the seventh note occurs it is minor but everywhere else it is major. I'm playing this in G (equivalent to pipes in D) but since recording this I've changed to C (pipes in G) so that it and the tune I've paired it with (Miss Elspeth Campbell) use the same range of notes (even though, musically, the latter is in G). I can't see it matters what key you use. (Pipers don't worry about it when the adapt non-piping tunes!) LJ
  15. Sort of, but it's not the full story. The only compromise on the Holden Crane was losing the Eb4 button on the left hand side; but that was for cosmetic rather than musical reasons. (It means the button arrangement isn't quite symmetrical.) The two bisonoric buttons I have on the left (Bb2/B2 and A2/Eb3) are a compromise of sorts, but derived from the fact that long before commissioning my Holden I'd modified standard Cranes in this way to extend the range downwards. It worked for me on those so there was no reason to change when it came to the Holden. The same reasoning goes for the C#4/B3 button on the right. I toyed with the idea of a separate button for B3 (as RAc) has but couldn't see any overall advantage for me. Incidentally, the bisonoric buttons give me almost two octaves on the left - A2 to G4 with only C#3 missing. The right hand is fully chromatic from B3 to C6; and all this in a small, light, 44-button instrument. LJ
  16. Actually it's no problem. The reeds are very efficient and the bellows capacious so I never use the air button in actual playing. I use it when I'm practising sometimes and want to repeat a long phrase or something like that, but not in performance. Indeed, I don't think much about the bellows. I seem to operate in the middle half of the bellows so if I suddenly come across a note that needs a push (say) when I would otherwise have changed to pull the remaining quarter of the bellows is more than enough to get me out of trouble. LJ
  17. You'd have thought that if the bellows direction for the start made any difference, English and duet players would have cottoned on and exploited the effect. I've never heard it mentioned. Certainly, as a duet player, I can't think of a single tune that I don't start with a pull. That is simply because it seems natural - closed bellows is the starting position. There would have to be some obvious advantage to go to the trouble of opening the bellows wide before starting. LJ
  18. I'm not sure I buy this. I've never been a "fast" player on any of the multitude of instruments I've played throughout my life. When it comes to concertinas I started on the English (and still occasionally play one), changed to Crane duet and tried Anglo reasonably seriously for a couple of years too. I'm faster on the Crane than I've ever been on the others; but that's mainly because it's the one I've played the most. It's down to how much practice you put in. In the past I've made the mistake of trying to keep two or three systems going at the same time. I now realise it would have been better to stick to one and just work at it. All systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that seems to have the most advantages for what you want to do and work to overcome the disadvantages. LJ
  19. Playing the melody on the right and some form of chord on the left is a perfectly reasonable way to start. It's hard enough to sing and play at the same time, let alone do something as complicated as playing a counter-melody (however simple) plus some left hand work. It sounds to me that your real problem is the volume. I've been there myself as a Crane player. 1. On some instruments the bass is simply too loud, so that even just playing (without singing) the bass overwhelms the melody. I've cured that to some extent on one instrument by fixing a leather baffle inside the fretwork of the left hand only, to obtain a better balance. 2. Irrespective of the overall volume, the reeds need to be set up so that they all speak at the same low pressure. It can be the case that the bass reeds speak more easily so that one has to play louder to get the melody reeds to speak. This is a vicious circle - as you play louder to hear the melody the bass gets louder too, so you play louder to try to hear the melody ... . Test this by holding down one button each side - say G3 on the left and B4 on the right with no pressure on the bellows then gently start to apply pressure. Try this with other note pairs. Which note sounds first? If it's always (or usually) the low one then you need to get the reeds re-set. A good instrument should be capable of playing both quietly and loudly. LJ
  20. Most of us start with straps too tight and slowly loosen them, so I suggest you learn from others' experience and go for it right away! Three of my instruments have rests of 5/8" to 11/16"; the third has "ergonomic" rests where the highest point is 1". But it doesn't really make any difference because I don't rest my whole hand on the rest; only the back edge (little finger side) of the palm. The thumb side of the palm is about 1/2" above the rest and the thumb curls in to grip and tension the strap. So without altering the handrest you can curl your fingers comfortably over the buttons and play with the tip. If you need to move in an out a bit, say to give your little finger better access, you can pivot round the thumb end that's held agains the strap. LJ
  21. Hi Howard, For real confusion try pairing Gathering Peascods with All in a Garden Green - the first four bars are identical! I do actually play this combination (solo) but I play the first in C and the second in G so there's some indication a change has taken place. LJ
  22. I found this tune in the excellent Paul Hardy tune book, but dismissed it at first as being harmonically too dull. When I came back to it a couple of months later I realised this could be turned to an advantage - it lends itself to a drone-style accompaniment. I've used open fifths throughout. Looking for a tune to pair with it The Bonny Breast Knot came to mind largely because I had been learning it about the same time. The change in accompaniment lightens the feel and, combined with the change of key, marks a clear break between the two tunes; whilst the fact that the first note is the same as the last in Dr Faustus' Tumblers gives continuity. LJ
  23. It's a phenomenon I've experienced too. I think it's more to do with the tonal quality of the sound. It's not just the concertina - a banjo will cut through too. At a recent folk festival I saw a morris side whose musicians consisted of several melodeons and a lone English concertina. From a distance the English shone through, but I bet the player herself felt as if she was drowning in a sea of melodeons. LJ
  24. 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
  25. 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
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