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About Breve

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  1. Looks like O'Flaherty's Irish Music retreat will be held online this year. This is usually held at the end of October, Midlothian TX. Details: https://oflahertyretreat.org/
  2. Muse Score (free music composing software) is a place to try and find the music for popular tunes from video games, anime etc. Of course you have to be able to read music and maybe transpose. This link has several examples of music from Sailor Moon - there's a simple melody one that might work for you if transposed up an octave. I don't know how accurate it is though to the melody. Other suggestions are search google images. https://musescore.com/sheetmusic?text=sailor+moon+theme
  3. Hi ButtonBilly, congrats on your new-ish instrument and the learning journey. Seeing as you got some freebie Caitlin Nic Gabhann lessons why not subscribe and continue? She does a good job. But that's if you want to play Irish of course. Otherwise it's a matter of memorizing button layout and tab notation. Gary Coover's is the easiest (for me anyway). The trick is to be able to read the notes and know the button layout automatically without worrying about the tab notation and this takes a little time and practice to memorize. Also do a lot of learning by ear, it really helps. I also recommend practicing scales to get to know all the buttons. Best of luck.
  4. Hi Amytchickadee, I recognize your problem - I've wondered if it's something to do with the internal design - acoustics and mechanics. I found this comment on the Kensington concertina website - the maker is explaining his approach to making concertinas and his design goal: See the comment about higher notes disappearing in overtones of lower notes. www.kensingtonconcertina.com is the website URL if you want to read the rest. (I've never played a Kensington concertina btw.) Originally, I wanted to produce an instrument with a sound that was close to one of Noel Hill’s wonderful Wheatstone Linotas. I also really liked the sound of some of the better Jeffries concertinas. I ended up with something in between these sounds. I found that I actually preferred this in between sound to either of the other instruments. The Jeffries reedy quality was great for melody line playing, but the higher notes would disappear in the overtones of the lower notes when you played counter notes and chords as part of a tune. Noel's Linotas were better suited to this type of playing, but while his concertinas were exceptional, Wheatstones in general had a somewhat nasal quality that too strongly colored the music for my taste. Kensington Concertinas have an overtone balance that both allows the playing of higher notes with low notes without having them get lost in the sound, and a somewhat woodwind like sound that has none of the nasal quality of most of the Wheatstones and Wheatstone copies. My focus now is not to try to duplicate the sound of another instrument, but to refine my own. I don't know how you overcome this - except finding another concertina that doesn't do this so much.... But in the meantime you could play a 2 note chord with the LH instead of a 3 note or 4 note chord and thus the RH notes won't be drowned out. Others more experienced and knowledgeable about concertina design and playing may have better answers, than just my 2 cents.
  5. @Newbie Anglo: Give yourself more time to memorize the corresponding tab number with the staff note. I found it helpful if I played a piece slowly saying to myself out loud the name of each note on the staff as I played each note via the tab numbering. At the beginning I needed to have a printout of the button layout nearby to refer to as I played from the tab, but I got past that stage. Repeating the name of the note for each button number reinforced memorization and sped up the learning curve. Also it helped me to do sight reading practice - playing unfamiliar tunes of Coover's tab, not just practice tunes already known. This forced me to memorize quickly. Hope that helps.
  6. I'll be much closer to home (Texas) - the O'Flaherty's irish music retreat is held in Midlothian, Tx which is a little town south of Dallas. I saw the Noel Hill camps are still listed as going ahead for 2020. I'd like to get to one of those one day. Perhaps next year. Yes and I agree cross rows is key. Thanks for the good wishes.
  7. An update to this: The used Minstrel C/G arrived yesterday. It's a plainer looking instrument with the matte black finish and not as nice looking as my G/D. The buttons are a little rough around the edges - so little things like that are noticed. But it has a milder/sweeter tone and less "honky" sounding than the G/D Herrin. I think volume is a bit less too. Action of buttons etc seems good (as far as I can tell with my slow playing) and I'm glad I didn't get a more basic entry level 'tina. This will suit me for quite a while. As for initial impressions on how brains learn/rewire. I decided that as I learnt to play G/D by reading sheet music and learning the button layout off paper, to trick my brain into learning the new system I would learn C/G tunes by ear and not look at sheet music until I was much more comfortable. Hence the online lessons. The 2 tunes I've learned - one I already knew well, the 2nd was brand new to me. Of course I picked up the known tune quickly (OAIM - Maggie in the Woods). The brand new one (Caitlin Nic Gabhan's free lesson Primrose Lass) took a bit more effort as you'd expect, but I got there without too much trouble. This didn't surprise me. But I was surprised at what happened next: After I was comfortable with Primrose Lass I looked at the sheet music download and tried to play along reading that. My brain didn't like it ! It produced what I can only describe as a sort of cognitive dissonance - the associations learned for those music notes were being constantly tested as I was playing different fingering. It felt a little weird. Then I tried playing along to ABC notation. This is something new to me and I am not experienced doing it at all, but it seemed easier. Reading the letter "A" or "G" etc didn't produce the same odd sensation as reading a music note on the staff did. Perhaps because it's also new thing my brain just went along with it without a fight! It was interesting to realise this morning that while I can hum Maggie in the Woods extremely easily, I can't hum Primrose Lass for the life of me. It starts on "B" and that's all I can remember. 30 mins of learning the tune last night wasn't enough time for my brain to lock it in. I suppose professional musicians have brains that pick up and retain tunes much more easily and quickly than my brain. I'm not a neurologist or an educator but I found it interesting to discover these differences - in how the brain receives new info inputs and how the "rewiring" process happens. So even though it's very early days, it's proving my hunch that learning this new system by a different method (ear vs paper) is probably the better way for me.
  8. McNeela Swan concertinas are still on sale. As for what they sound like here's a nice tune:
  9. I once borrowed a friend's Rochelle for about a month. I found it sort of playable - but it felt too big for my (female) hands. I read about the Blackthorn in my research, but couldn't find much out about it, and I was starting to get cold feet from buying overseas in case there was a problem and had to send it back etc. In the end after a fair bit of "sleeping on it", I bought the used Minstrel from Button Box. It was someone else's trade-in and it's already had a little tune up. Keeping to a seller within the US is easier for me if it ever needs a service etc and I now have two USA concertinas, the Minstrel and my G/D Herrin. The Minstrel will work for me very well I think. The advice given on learning a new system is appreciated - it's interesting to hear of others' experiences. On the G/D now, I tend to go cross rows and try to use both hands whenever I can - although most of the work is done on the right hand of course if it's a melody-only tune with no accompaniment. In fact my memorizing of tunes and getting them up to speed is always delayed because I can't help but try out new fingering. Usually I learn a tune at first in the easiest way - (along the row) and then unlearn all that and try to to learn new fingerings. So mindful of this inability to just settle on a fingering I've decided I will sub to some online lessons for the C/G and learn someone else's fingering for the tunes! Either Caitlin Nic Gabhann or OAIM - haven't decided yet. This gives me about 6 months to pick up C/G system for the Irish music camp this fall. Again, thanks to all who responded.
  10. I like how you kept your old Stagi for nostalgic reasons and also for it's playability. I looked and did not find an old Bastari as you described. The Stagi I have (newer one) has stiff bellows - I did play it for couple of years but the bellows stayed obstinate. My hands/wrists would get a bit sore from the straps digging in as I was pulling against the stiff bellows. It put me off looking at a newer C/G Stagi.
  11. Bill N, interesting how your playing improved overall, after you took on the C/G system. So it was a 2 year learning curve for you - that's good to know. I must be patient and keep persevering then. I agree with your comments about needing a concertina similar in action/ response to what I'm playing. Otherwise yes it would feel like a step backwards and much more challenging.
  12. I am ignorant about bushings. A quick search told me it's something around the buttons and folks mention them wearing out or slipping out of place. Are they some kind of pad then? What do they do?
  13. Thank you to all who answered. I did get an answer back from Chris Algar who kindly let me know he had nothing in my budget and he didn't like shipping overseas due to the reeds possibly shifting out of alignment during transport and thus potential problems for the buyer. I don't know if this reluctance was always the case, perhaps reed misalignment due to rough handling in shipping has been a problem from time to time and he's decided to change how he does things now. I'm tossing up between the new Swan on sale and a used Minstrel. One is within budget, the other just out of budget but a better 'tina. I know all the good arguments for buying the best a person can afford. I can't trade in my Stagi for the Minstrel and I'm waiting to hear if McNeela will take it (they did ask me for photos etc) though I suspect ultimately not - as why on earth would a music store in the land of ITM want a G/D and a stagi at that ? So no firm decision made just yet.
  14. G/D player here. I like my GD lots. But I realise it's not best for ITM - the fluidity/bounce aspect. (insert d'oh reaction here). I'd like to attend an irish music retreat in the fall. So thinking I should switch now, get used to it, and do beginner/foundation workshops at the retreat. If you've switched systems - did you put aside old one for a while completely? did you play new tunes on new system and old tunes on old system with no mixing? Was it a struggle to adapt? Now for the C/G instrument question: McNeela Swan on sale at the moment. Definitely thinking about it. I've also emailed the Button Box guy about suitable used ones and also the Barleycorn guy. Experiences with the Barleycorn ppl shipping to US? I'm aware that I could get by in ITM with less than 30 buttons (say 26 or 28) and that's why I emailed Barleycorn. I want to keep this purchase to be under $1k. But still find something I will like playing (no fighting with the bellows, no sluggishness, no overly shrill sound etc). The Rochelle seems rather large and I don't care for the sound so much - but it would do if I found nothing else. But if you were in my shoes would you jump on the Swan or wait and see what you could pick up in a Lachenal? I have listened to restored Lachenal vids on Youtube and I like the sound, but was wondering if vintage concertinas need more TLC? I also have a beginner (Button Box serviced) Stagi G/D I need to find a home for. So asking here if any one wants to trade for their beginner C/G, in case you were curious about learning G/D but didn't want to make a big investment? Long shot I know as most would trade a beginner concertina back for the next upgrade, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Thanks.
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