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Little John

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Everything posted by Little John

  1. What a fascination and lucky discovery! As regards obtaining a Crane duet, you could try asking in the buy and sell section of this forum and/or you could try Barleycorn Concertinas. They have the largest selection of concertinas for sale in the world and are not too far from you. That said, Cranes are comparatively rare and Barleycorn might have only one or two, or even none at all!
  2. To add to this, you'll probably need a small duet to keep within your budget. All small instruments have limitations of one sort or another, though you can usually work within them. Small Haydens have some missing accidental notes (as DaveRo mentions above). Small Maccanns (39 and 46 buttons) start at G4 (G above middle C) on the right hand, which means the lower notes of several dance tunes and hymns/songs are missing. All Cranes start at C3 (octave below middle C) on the left and C4 (middle C) on the right and proceed chromatically from there, though some higher notes you need might be missing. A 42-button Crane as indicated by Alex is a pretty useable instrument. In fact such an instrument was the basis for the 44 and 45 button instruments he subsequently made for me. I learned on a 35 button Crane, which are more common than 42s, and certainly affordable.
  3. To me the obvious chords to try would be G or Dm. Or a simple countermelody. Yes, it's very different, but not for the reason you suggest. The guitar is strong on percussive sound and (relatively) weak on pitch, so note clashes like C - D can sound OK or even positively effective. The concertina is very much stronger on pitch, and clashes come out as exactly that, unless they are obviously and quickly resolved (as for example in a suspended 4th.)
  4. I completely agree. Easier for anyone, come to that. I think it's important to be aware that each version is very EC oriented. Parallel thirds are very easy on the English so it's natural to use this as the starting point for harmony. But a different arrangement might suit the Anglo better. Don't make life difficult by slavishly following an arrangement that doesn't suit the instrument! For example, on the Crane duet parallel thirds are awkward but parallel tenths are easy and achieve the same musical effect. There are so many valid options for harmonisation possible whilst staying within the same harmonic framework.
  5. True, but with C# in the melody you need only A and E in the bass to give an A major chord. Actually, on some occasions one might use an F# minor chord instead. (I don't know how feasible this is on either the Traveller or a 30 button Anglo. I'm a Crane player myself.)
  6. The extra button is a C# which allows you to play in the key of D major. There are plenty of English dance tunes in this key so I don't see it as a specifically Irish feature.
  7. It brought to mind The 29th of May, but on listening again they are rather different. LJ
  8. I can understand both sentiments you express, but it's interesting that you haven't actually answered either of David's two questions: LJ
  9. As far as I know from discussions on this forum, there is only one 5CC instrument in existence, found in Vienna. I don't know how long the owner has had it, or if he/she plays it much. So I fear you are doomed to disappointment on that front. That's what I concluded after tapping my fingers on the table whilst looking at the note layout. RaC went one better and tried it out using a tablet-based midi synthesiser to explore it. He concluded the same. Unfortunately we've both spent too long playing Cranes to make it worth changing; but in your position I'd jump at it. Go for it!
  10. I don't think so. It's based on the same principle as the piano and the English concertina in having a core scale of C major with the accidentals close to their associated naturals. It's really a development of the English system but allowing for a full chromatic scale on each hand. It is, in theory, possible to play in any key on the Crane, but in practice it becomes a bit more difficult (less intuitive) once you go beyond a couple of sharps or flats. Your drawing of the "classic layout" is slightly misleading. The accidental next to C is C#, not Db, and similarly for some (but not all) of the other notes. This might sound like splitting hairs, but it does make a difference. On the English system the naturals occupy the two centre columns and the accidentals the outer two columns. So C# will be consistently adjacent to C. There is no Db (the note adjacent to D is D#) so if you needed that note you would have to use C# instead, which would seriously disrupt the normal fingering pattern (being on the opposite hand). Similar issues occur with the Crane; most obviously where in the lower octave D# is adjacent to D but an octave higher only Eb is available. This likewise disrupts the normal fingering pattern (though not as seriously as can occur on the English) because you can't apply the principle of simply moving to the adjacent button for the accidental.
  11. The idea that one's little finger is too weak or too slow to play a concertina seems widespread, but misguided. The pressure required on a button is only about 3 ounces (80 grams). Even a small child could manage that. I play a Crane duet but much the same considerations apply as for Hayden. You can play with only three fingers, but you deny yourself much flexibility by doing so. Someone else mentioned the common D - G start of many tunes. On the Crane it's so easy if you use the little finger for D and the ring for G. You're then ready for anything that follows There are plenty of other examples. I would strongly recommend any duet player (whatever system it is) or anglo player to practice from the start using the little finger. Little John.
  12. OK. These two bits of information each suggest about 9 to 10 man-weeks per concertina. (I'm making the assumption part-time means half-time.)
  13. Assuming a 37-hour week (but I bet you work more!) that works out at about 3 to 4 weeks. So if anything, less that the month Notetaker suggested.
  14. Aye, but those who are lucky enough to have one of your instruments appreciate the attention to detail and know it is worth the wait. LJ
  15. Fair point! What I was getting at is that all Cranes from 35 to 55 buttons have a consistent layout starting at C4 on the right (and C3 on the left). Once you go beyond 55 buttons there's no consistency of additional note choice or button position. Some have an extra low row (sounds like yours does); some have a few extra buttons positioned in a sixth column or under the left thumb; etc.
  16. Neither is entirely regular or consistent, though I'd argue the Crane is perhaps more "logical". The Maccann differs from one octave to the next for reasons I've never understood. Someone (whose name escapes me for now) produced a a regularised version which is consistent from octave to octave. That is probably the most "logical" layout, but very rare. (The 5CC layout is also logical, but that's not your question.) Whether one is easier to play than the other doesn't necessarily relate to how "logical" the layout is. It's more a matter of matching how your brain works to the layout. As you can see from my little picture, it's the Crane for me. One important point is the all Cranes, from 35 buttons upwards, start from C4 (middle C) on the RHS. This is useful because much of the folk repertoire lies in the range D4 to B5. All Maccanns with fewer than about 56 buttons start from G5, and are also missing some of the lower notes on the LHS that Cranes have. So a 42- or 48-button Crane will be fine but a 46-button Maccann will be limiting.
  17. If this is a four-column chromatic system (4CC) then the left hand makes perfect sense but the right hand seems to have a couple of buttons in the wrong place. For example the red C button should be one row higher, at the top of the column.
  18. A visit to Portchester Castle today reminded me of this topic. This graffito has "VINCENT" with both Ns reversed, but just below to the right is what looks like the start of another "VINC"(ENT) with the normal N.
  19. Fortunately you have that skill, Alex!
  20. 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?
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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