Posts posted by Gail_Smith
I play EC standing for a Morris side, but sitting for more complicated tunes (where I sometimes use my little finger to play notes).
I have put a sash through the thumb straps and round my neck for playing when i am standing. This takes a proportion of the weight off the little fingers. It also means that I can carry it around more easily, so it is less likely to get stolen or roll down a hill into a river (I had a near-miss on this before I adoped using the strap). If I want to wave the instrument around while playing, I just let the sash loose. Maybe this idea would help you ?
Andy - if he wants some informal support and getting started stuff, he is welcome to come round and we can work on things together. I'm in Neston. Contact me here or via Richard in Mersey or anyone from Mockbeggar. , Gail
an added advantage of the "chords" approach is that many tunes we all see are written out with a melody line along with a "guitar" chord. So a first approximation can be to play the chord tonic (i.e. E for Em) as an accompaniment.
After that, if you are playing an EC in the most common keys that dont have many sharp or flats, and you want to accompany the tune with lower notes (including at the same time you play the tune) , one of the low A,G,B, Bb, C#, E or Eb notes are usually in the written chords somewhere (i.e. as a third or a fifth) and you can usually manage to find one of them that your fingers can drop onto relatively easily .
its not as bad as playing a trumpet or tuba.
I use fingerless gloves with a metal-ended instrument and its OK.
This is embarassing. I found my book, after hours of searching . It was in the photocopier. Thank you everyone for your advice. Gail
I have lost my copy of the Steel Skies (Alistair Andersons tunes for English concertina, mandolin, whistle, and if I remmeber correctly, Northumbrian pipes) score.
Amazingly, there does not ssem to be another copy available on the internet.
I think I now have a group organised who want to play it .
Does anyone have a pdf or a book for sale?
I have poor eyesight, and I use a relatively-inexpensive (compared with an I-pad) PC that will convert into large-screen tablet mode.
I then use a cheap but excellent programme called MuseScore to hold the actual music. Within MuseScore you can get rid of margins and "wasted" space and display the dots however you wish in terms of number of pages per display screen, mangnification, landscape/portrait etc. You can write text on the pages in MuseScore (e.g. play x3) and get it to scroll at whatever tempo you wish. Or scroll using a foot pedal. You can also store your music in "collections" , so something can be e.g. in "Mazurkas" and "French" and "played at so-and-so session" and "key of Bb" (although Key is a separate input term if you wish to enter it) The search function is fast enough to get the image of the dots up for the second-playthrough in a set if you can remember a critical word anywhere in the title whenever someone starts to play a tune.
Input as pdf or image.
if your old-tunebook tunes are not very obscure there is a good chance that someone else has already put them into MuseScore library.
Although MuseScore is free, you do have to pay for access to the library, but once you are there there are a LOT of tunes in it, organised for a wide variety of instruments. It is not expensive.
You can then output the tunes them from MuseScore to ABC or MIDI files to learn. Or play along with the soundtrack with the notes you are playing highlighted on the score at the same time, which will probably mean that you are learning to read a score anyway. You can change the tempo easily, which means you can learn tunes slowly and then speed up once you know them.
thanks Dave. I will be in touch if I cant bodge it to buy a bit more time
Thank you. Some good ideas to investigate here.
It's not the felt bush though because it is a metal-ended instrurment and has a sort of integral thickening plate that does that job and there is no felt - I should have said this at the beginning
This is probably a question that has been asked before, but I couldn't find the answer. Sorry.
The left-hand middle B on my Ediophone has started to sound on the "push" after about half an hour of playing after I have put the concertina back together after the latest attempted repair. The button is ever-so-slightly depressed compared to those around it when it is at rest.
I have replaced the spring, but that has not solved the problem.
I have tried gently expanding the new spring to force the finger end up and provide more pressure on the pad, but that didn't solve the problem.
Its an awkward lever, because it is bent round the recently-replaced support post. I'm reasonably certain that the lever is not fouling on the post. The position of the post is such that the lever cant be easily removed from the fulcrum (e.g. to try bending it in a vice)
The problem was there before the post was replaced but has now got worse.
The pad is OK.
a) try putting the spring base into the wood slightly closer to the button (it is possible that putting it into the old-spring hole did not give it a firm enough foundation so the base is moving )?
b) maybe the replacement spring was a dud ? (see below)
c) add another spring to the lever ? I think i could fit one in, and someone has previously done that to another lever in the instrument)
I have now used up all my repair kit springs, so I would like to buy another half-dozen. Please suggest someone who is selling them in the UK.
Small point from a learner, that I don't think was covered above.
When trying to play gentle music e.g. slow airs, and ending a phrase softly, I found that i was sometimes losing the final quiet low note, or it was "soundling" later than I wanted. .
I think this is because the lower notes take more air going past them to sound. However, I was intuitively trying to land them at the end of a long drawn out bellows push (or more often, pull).
So I am now trying to change the bellows direction whenever this is a danger, just to avoid losing that critical note.
thank you. Some lovely tunes here.
if anyone wants a harmonium as a restoration project, I have one you could have (near Liverpool, UK)
I play EC. For me the difficulties currently arise when trying to sight-read dots that suddenly hit you with an A# or a Db. Because they are not where I want them to be. I suspect this is something i will get better at in future and eventually it won't be a problem... but it is at the moment. I have no idea if this is also a problem with the various duet systems.
This is a question that comes up again and again and again. I am wondering if having a thread at the top of General Discussion on this , or a FAQ elsewhere on the site would be helpful. It could include
1. anglo, english or duet ?
2. what you get for your money at different price points
3. pointers to tutor books and online tutors.
Point people who ask the question at this standard document/post - and then they can ask the more individual and interesting questions to the group ? Gail
but the Mona Lisa has got that concertina fixed-expression-of-concentration-linked-to-mild-panic perfectly. I now know that she was thinking "what the hell is the b music ??..how does it start ???.. and its coming up soon..."
Hm, it turns out that I already try to play a set with that great Paddy Faheys tune in it - its the other tunes i the same set that give me headaches ! Working on it tho...
That's a different Paddy Fahey's reel from the one I usually trip over at full speed (and no, I'm not getting confued with Paddy Fahey's jig). So I will give it a go. Thanks.
I like Northumberland tunes and I have a lot of those long thin booklets with very small dots in them that are slightly too difficult for me to read without photo-enlarging. But the tunes do tend to bounce around a lot rather than have easy-to-play-on-an-EC runs.
Interesting idea on the Bee's wing ! I see its often played in G as well. Confounding fiddlers isn't my primary aim btw, but it's nice not to be the only one that has trouble with certain note progressions occasionally. The Road to Errogie by Adam Sutherland is a fine tune but difficult - for me - to play at speed, but is also a good one for discomforting some fiddlers, if you can play it in the original key of B.
Mallys. Hm, really ? I should check again, rather than following my prejudices brought about by a few friends learning melodeon.
good ideas thanks.
I'm looking for a reel or two that fall naturally under the fingers on an english concertina. The plan would be to get them up to speed to play in a public session (or post on the net in these strange times) . So, lots of nice runs, easy keys, and no repeat-note triplets please !
I seem to choose to practice interesting (often far too difficult) tunes rather than those i could get to a respectable standard. So it would be good to work on something that is naturally easier for a change.
It would be even better if the tunes were hard to play on the fiddle.
OK- I DID say "aide-memoire".
My point wasn't to sight-read at speed (although i do try to do that with the 2-box-files-of-paper the longstanding group in the Irish Centre in Liverpool have as their repertoire - in the hope that eventually i will be able to play many more of the sets without referring to the notation)
There are tunes i can happily play at home, but cant necessarily remember how to start the second tune in the set when I am in public. I like to use dots to get over that awful panic when you feel the B music approaching and you are so nervous that you cant be sure how it starts i.e. to use "dots as a comfort blanket"
So, if i am travelling around- as i do - It seems from the responses so far (thanks everyone) that the only solution is my current one of sitting in on the session hiding the box and tablet in a shopping bag until I can see what the lie of the land is - thank goodness a concertina is easier to hide than a guitar! This sort of works - if you need to be so on-the-ball that dots are anathema, then the evening is probably worth just listening to , But it is nice you feel a "part" of the process and not just an audience.
Interesting that dots are seen as evidence of not belonging to the local tradition [bad thing]. But its obvious if you are a visitor that you are not from the local tradition. It seems to me that the "local tradition" for a lot of sessions is composed of the regulars' favourite tunes, which may be quite different to those played 10 miles down the road. So unless you play tunes from a genuine local tradition (e.g. Northumberland in Newcastle) or the very familiar tunes that everyone loves/loves-to-hate such as Salmon Tails and the Blackthorn Stick (in most of the UK) the chances of joining in are low if you are just visiting.
I am wondering if its getting to be more socially acceptable to have the dots in front of you as an aide-memoire in sessions ?
This used to be a definite no-no. The Kingston Irish Tunebook implies that you need to sit at the feet of the gurus for months, and get a nod from the guys in charge, before even daring to get an instrument out. However, I have "dropped in " on a small number of sessions in the last few years and found that people were happily reading off paper and tablets. Particularly people reading lyrics and strumming on guitars. The friendliest was in Ulverstone, where I was told "we mostly play the Furness Tradition here - if you can read these dots you can join in".
So - are dots more acceptable in some geographies than others, or is it all to do with the individual session involved ?
Well, that was easy, when i finally had the time and courage to follow up your advice.
Both D#s were loose in their reed shoes, as were a couple of the very high notes [I don't play these very often either]. They are now not loose and are essentially in tune.
By the way - i was not intending ever to tune a reed higher just to please the fiddler, but i could see that she had a valid complaint when it was flat.
The "swap the D# for the Eb" idea was a great bit of lateral thinking that would have been my next step.
Thank you to everyone, particularly Dave and "Oberon"
Thank you everyone for PMs as well as this thread. I have been away for a few days and will get round to checking the reed bed tomorrow (which is now sounding to be the most likely explanation) and go through the tunings with an electronic tuner to see what i actually have.
Particular thanks to David for reminding me how he tuned the concertina (its the Ediophone) and when he did it !
I have now looked up various different ways of tuning (I also have a hurdy-gurdy that has been set up using "just" tuning) and its clearly a really important issue for some people and can make a significant difference to how a group of instruments sound together a I am now better educated.
Helpful (I hope!) learning strategy
in General Concertina Discussion
I just use the "settings" (cogwheel icon) to slow down tunes I like on YouTube to 75% .