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Bob Michel

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Everything posted by Bob Michel

  1. It strikes me (just now, anyway) as too happy and straightforward a little tune to bear the weight of a lot of labored arrangement and multitracking, so here it is solo, on Anglo, in the simplest of settings, on the first take. In C, even! http://youtu.be/WNkHFLi4hRg (I did indulge myself in one obvious quotation.) Bob Michel Near Philly
  2. Here's one of my all-time favorites, composed in honor of his mother by the great Marcel Messervier: http://youtu.be/cHaM5ucQ2nw Bob Michel Near Philly
  3. Now you're talking. A Hayden duet is sort of a CBA in a concertina-size package. Real five-row CBAs, though, do tend to average heavier than their PA counterparts, if only because so many of them have more voices in both the treble and the bass. A 4/5 configuration (which seems pretty standard in a CBA, kind of extreme in a PA) runs about 26 lbs./12 kg. You could score a nice 3/4, 72 bass PA--surely adequate to any needs of mine--for 10 lbs. less. Or you could of course go with a diet brand of CBA: three rows, or fewer reed banks. Still too heavy for me, though. I prefer your Hayden suggestion. Though in fact (to atone for my thread drift) I'll continue to argue the idiosyncratic merits of a slightly enhanced Anglo. Less is more, if also more challenging at times. Bob Michel Near Philly
  4. Simpler, yes, but just thinking about the weight of those things makes my back hurt. A CBA is an elegant, cleverly designed instrument that utterly fails my portability test. Bob Michel Near Philly
  5. People will slouch towards chromaticism by diverse routes (I have my ten extra buttons). To each his/her own, but for me portability is of the essence. If the gig required me to play a lot in G# without scowling, I expect I'd just turn hipster and buy a piano accordion. Bob Michel Near Philly
  6. Depends on the circles (it's a big country), but I suspect they're known about as widely, and on the same terms, as they are anywhere outside Scotland. Scottish traditional music (apart from pipe bands) isn't as widespread or influential here as Irish, but enough strathspeys have crossed over into the Irish repertoire that most players of that style will know at least a couple. And it would be the odd folkie (in my generation, anyway) who didn't have a recording by, say, Silly Wizard or The Battlefield Band tucked away somewhere. Bob Michel Near Philly
  7. It's the glory and horror of the Anglo that no two keys (apart from C and G, or whatever you call Home) are remotely similar. No standard scale patterns or chord shapes to aid in transposition. Change the pitch and everything else has to be rethought as well (especially phrasing). It's a fearful assymetry. To preserve sanity while playing such an instrument, you have to learn to regard its quirks as features rather than bugs. I've been working on this for years, and have myself nearly convinced. But now and then, when I pick up a mandolin or (worse) sit down at the keyboard, I seem to hear it snickering at me. Bob Michel Near Philly
  8. What a lovely tune and arrangement. If there's a speed-up in there it's pretty subtle. Especially compared to some of my own mad races to the finish. Bob Michel Near Philly
  9. I was humming "Lucy Farr's Barndance" earlier today, and remembered that it was one of the Runners Up on the list. So before May's Theme gives way to some new challenge, here it is. http://youtu.be/0t4az8143NA Bob Michel Near Philly
  10. This is one reason why I'm a big fan of the 40-button Anglo: I've found (though it's taken me a while) that the additional chord voicings make it so versatile that I don't much think in terms of "home keys" anymore. It's not as fully chromatic as an English or duet, of course, but I've come to appreciate it as a great compromise. Both my concertinas have 40 buttons, and both are in C/G; when I acquired them (a few years apart in the late '90s) I didn't aspire to play much beyond Irish dance music, and I'd have preferred a standard 30-button instrument. I resigned myself to the extra weight simply because these were available and I could (sort of) afford them. The extra weight turned out to be no trouble at all, and I've come to rely on the alternative fingerings in all the styles of music I play. But I still get the built-in Anglo bounce that I love for dance music, and an instrument that reminds me every time I pick it up to stay focussed on the dancing. Mind, I wouldn't turn down a top-tier 30-button Anglo (or a comparable English or duet, for that matter; I'm omnivorous to a fault). But for me this is the best of both worlds. Bob Michel Near Philly
  11. Mea culpa. In the descriptions I posted on YouTube I was at pains to specify the "*American* old-time tradition," but in this forum I did indeed slip the one time into a more parochial usage without providing context. Sorry for any confusion. I remember being drawn once into a mind-numbing discussion (I think that's the word) with a fellow enthusiast who insisted with some heat that the almost equally common variant "old-timey" is deeply offensive and should be avoided in polite conversation. It isn't, of course--I made the mistake (as it proved) of pointing out that practitioners of this style were happy through much of its history to call it "hillbilly music"--but the incident reminded me that taxonomy can be fraught. Such a quagmire, language. Bob Michel Near Philly
  12. Excellent suggestion, especially if you (the OP, I mean) can make the trip in person to try out different types of instrument. If your main interest is Irish music you'll probably (though not necessarily) want an Anglo, as opposed to an English or duet concertina. So what follows is specific to Anglos. Get a box with 30 (or more) buttons, preferably in C/G. You can play lots of fine music with 20 buttons, but sooner or later you'll be playing with other musicians, in the most common keys, and that means you'll want accidentals--especially the critical C# for playing in D, which a 20-button C/G concertina doesn't have. As long as your instrument is in tune, reasonably airtight and doesn't require too much strength to play, you can have a great time and learn a lot about playing the music. That said, there are three entry points worth considering, depending on how committed you are and how much you have to spend: 1. The Concertina Connection's Rochelle runs a bit over $400, or slightly less used. It's (relatively) big and clunky, but it's well made and has a lovely tone all its own, especially nice for song accompaniment. It's responsive enough that with a bit of work you can play the Irish dance repertoire at a reasonable speed. I'm a big fan of these, and think they're probably the best choice out there for most beginners. 2. If you want something a bit sprightlier and more traditional, and if you can afford it, you'll be looking at a "hybrid" concertina with accordion reeds. Here you have lots of good choices: Morse, Edgley, Tedrow, Marcus and so on. A new one will be expensive, probably well over two grand; a used one might go for around $1500, or less if you're lucky. This could be a lifetime companion and/or a good investment: once you get past the sticker shock, you have a quality handmade instrument that's actually a bargain at the price. 3. And speaking of sticker shock, if you want a modern or vintage instrument by a top maker with traditional concertina reeds, you'll spend anywhere from $2,000(-ish) for a playable Lachenal to over $10,000 for a Holy Grail Jeffries. Very few novices are going to be thinking along those lines--but one can dream. And the current makers with the best reputations have long waiting lists, so there's always the option of placing a deposit now, buying a Rochelle and procuring a very large piggy bank. I haven't gone concertina shopping for many years, but I think these figures are reasonably accurate, and I'll happily stand corrected if someone knows better. In your shoes I believe I'd get myself a Rochelle, and--if the bug has bitten you hard--start learning about the various hybrids, with a view to upgrading as soon as it's financially feasible. Hope this helps. Bob Michel Near Philly
  13. C should be a pretty comfortable key on a G/D, though as Adrian says there's a bit of a learning curve. I can think of two early obstacles to overcome, neither of them too daunting. First, when you're playing songs of the I-IV-V type both your I and IV chord (C and F) are most accessible on the draw, while only your V chord (G) will be mostly on the push. So the bellows management required will be a bit unfamiliar in the beginning. Second, if you like to use an alternating-bass style of accompaniment, you'll need to draw the low C on the accidental row but push the G on the G row (unless you have a G drone, which you can work, in either direction, with your left thumb). I'm transposing this from a C/G, where F and Bb (C and F for you) have gradually become favorite keys of mine, for both dance tunes and songs. It strikes me as odd when players of Irish music balk at tunes in the near flat keys while happily plugging away much of the time in D (A for you), which is at least as awkward on their C/G instruments. It's all a matter of what you're used to. Bob Michel Near Philly
  14. What you can lay your hands on depends, of course, on what you're prepared to spend. The good news is that English concertinas still command significantly lower prices than comparable Anglos, though they're still not cheap. My first stop--certainly on the East Coast of the U.S.--would be the Button Box in western Massachusetts. They have a well-designed web site with sound samples of instruments in stock, they're extremely helpful folks, and they'll send you an instrument on approval. Their concertina inventory varies from time to time; the pickings of English concertinas look a bit slim just now, but you can always ask them to be on the lookout for something specific you fancy. Their own house brand of hybrid (accordion reed) concertinas is first-rate, and they can make you one on relatively short order (within months, rather than years). I'm not an English player, and I'm sure more knowledgeable people will chime in. But that's where I'd start. I have no connection with the store, by the way; I'm just a satisfied customer of many years. Hope this helps. Bob Michel Near Philly
  15. One last footnote to my May old-time concertina project: I've just nuked the YouTube video of "Angeline the Baker" and "Julianne Johnson" that I uploaded earlier this week: on a second hearing my sloppy timing was just too painful. This version isn't perfect either, but I expect the dancers wouldn't tar and feather me, as they'd have had a perfect right to do in the former case: Bob Michel Near PhIlly
  16. Thanks, Wolf. I heard the postman walking up the front steps and was trying to warn him mentally what might happen to him if he made enough noise to spoil Take Ten. Bob Michel Near Philly
  17. Here's another raid on the list (this is a great way of making up for years of lurking): http://youtu.be/aeRW9FqpROc I know these three G tunes from my stringband days long ago; I've never heard them played together, but they all seem to get along pretty well. And as a native Philadelphian I felt honor bound to record "Golden Slippers" once in my life. Bob Michel Near Philly
  18. Here are a couple of the American old-time tunes from the list, that style being an old avocation of mine: http://youtu.be/d-A8K5-KXrs This time I brought in the one-man stringband for support. Bob Michel Near Philly
  19. What he appreciates most, I'm sure, is company, and if that involves music he doesn't object. And while whippets are brilliant thieves as a rule, he long ago figured out that musical gear is strictly off-limits and must be left alone. Should I have a different dog eventually, I'm going to need to relearn some basic precautions (e.g., don't go out for a few hours and leave the concertina on the floor). Bob Michel Near Philly
  20. Here are two more tunes from the list of also-rans, both hornpipes: "The Wonder" and "Joe Cooley's." They make a nice set. http://youtu.be/_isvXEqYMZ4 I'm always glad to watch the dog in one of these music videos, rather than my own earnest mug. He's 14 now, and just deaf enough to be extremely tolerant of my squawk and wheeze. Bob Michel Near Philly
  21. A forum member asked me to do a solo version, without the distraction of overdubbed instruments. Happy to oblige: http://youtu.be/V_JgWBhmVuM Bob Michel Near Philly
  22. These are just wonderful; thanks for sharing them. Bob Michel Near Philly
  23. It definitely has a tarantella vibe. I haven't found much information online about the tune's background, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that it had Italian roots. Bob Michel Near Philly
  24. Great theme, especially for a relative newcomer (but longtime lurker) like myself who appreciates the chance to move out of his comfort zone a bit. With luck I'll get to a few of these this month. But first...much as I like "Da Slockit Light," I'd been betting on "La Ronde des milloraines" in the latest poll, so here it is. For the sake of authenticity I arranged it for the classic Auvergnais combination of concertina, fiddle, ukulele, bodhrán and electric bass. http://youtu.be/xA3ngMv8k1Y Bob Michel Near Philly
  25. Nice choice. The tune's been in my head for decades, though I don't think I'd tried it on concertina before this week. I assumed I'd first learned it from The Boys of the Lough, but a glance at The Session suggests that I probably got it off Séamus and Manus McGuire's "Humours of Lissadell" LP (fabulous album, by the way). And if they haven't heard it already, Anglo players might want to give a listen to Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin's lovely version on "Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond." So here we go: http://youtu.be/UAwLoIma2jA My own tempo is a bit rubato, but that seems to be the way I swing when I'm lamenting. Bob Michel Near Philly
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