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Everything posted by mdarnton

  1. In another thread he said it's one of these: http://www.concertinaconnection.com/jackie-jack.htm so it's probably not too rough. The biggest frustration is going to be getting the buttons to go back in their holes. ?
  2. Take it apart, look for that note's reed on the inside, and look on the other side for a stuck valve (a strip of leather that should be floating, not wedged in), or for something stuck in the reed, which you can gently clean out with a small slip of paper. When you take things apart, mark their orientation so you don't get things put back together turned 1/6. And be very gentle, both in loosening AND tightening! If you are all thumbs, just pay someone to fix it! Fixing someone else's mistakes is often much more expensive than fixing the original problem.
  3. I started here: http://www.alistairanderson.com/cds/2008-concertina-workshop.htm It's especially good if you read music, which I guess you probably do. I got part way through the book, then went to sight-reading starting at random points in O'Neills Music of Ireland: http://www.oldmusicproject.com/oneils1.html That's something I still do to keep up my sight-reading ability. There are similar books available for the music you want to learn, though inevitably smaller in number of tunes than O'Neill. ? When you start to feel familiar with where things are on the instrument (and in spite of what you think now, there will come a time where you can dive for a button that's far away, and hit it) then playing by ear will have become more comfortable. The next step is to listen to what your favorite players do, and try to do that.
  4. I carry mine in a 6-pack cooler shoulder bag. It looks a lot like the tackle box, but isn't as long, and is adequately waterproof. I put it in corner-point down, and cut two foam wedges to fit underneath to cradle it and boost it up slightly from the bag bottom. The pockets are handy for notepad, pencil, metronome, etc.
  5. When I lived in the country and was learning concertina decades ago, I was playing one day and heard a strange resonant hum. I stopped, it stopped; I started playing again, it started. Finally I discovered that the neighbor's St Bernard had walked a quarter mile (he had never come over to our house before that) and was under the open window next to me howling along. My own dog liked to climb up on the sofa and lie next to the concertina as a I played, also. I guess there's something about the sound that they like.
  6. When the subject of the EC keyboard quirk, I always mention alternating bass notes in guitar playing. At first it seems impossible to keep the thumb alternating while other things are going on, and then one day you realize you haven't thought about that in a while. It's the same with zig-zag-alternate-side concertina scales: impossible at first, then completely natural. As with learning every new and unfamiliar thing you ever learned, if your first response is "I can't do that" then you can't do it.
  7. You might get some push back on this so I will say that I think that SM57s are an excellent choice for concertina, as opposed to some more strident condenser mic, even more certainly if your concertina has accordion reeds. Placement depends a lot on the space you're in. Some distance is always good to provide ambiance, but if the room is too live you need to stay close. If you can get away from the instrument in a live room, one mic will do it, but closer or in too dead of a room you probably will need two. I would use both 57s, even at a distance, but as far as you can get without the room taking over. It really depends on what kind of sound you want. The key to good recording is to experiment a lot with mic placement---that's more important than what mics you use.
  8. My guess would be that you are right, and that it's because of the huge popularity of Irish music vs . . . . . whatever it is that English concertina naturally does. . . .
  9. I have two new sightings. One is in the movie Portrait of Jennie (1948). Unfortunately it doesn't really get played--they're trying to establish the main character as Irish (and one of his friends later briefly plays an Irish harp). Selection below starts at the concertina: The other is in this week's New Yorker magazine--an obviously-edited (laundering Lennie's image for the swells by removing the concertina) lead photo in an article about Leonard Bernstein. ?
  10. I'm going to throw in here just because I do it differently. I'm left handed and play English concertina. When I learned, I wanted to be able to play anything (I play a bunch of other instruments, a lot from reading music) and so I learned by reading music. It was convenient for me to place the music on my coffee table in front of the sofa and couldn't have the instrument in the way, so I positioned the left end of the concertina on my right knee, and pumped with the right hand. I can play comfortably with it in front of me, on the left knee, or in front of me in the air but usually don't.
  11. That's a type of accordion valve. For instance, the right picture halfway down the page in the "Reeds" section, here: http://www.accordion.co.uk/accordion-repairs.html You can buy the springs here: http://www.stringsandboxes.de/epages/es117831.sf/en_US/?ObjectPath=/Shops/es117831_stringsandboxes/Categories/"Akkordeon Werkstoffe"/"Federstahl Ventile" in the "accordion materials" section, for instance.
  12. http://www.concertinaconnection.com/reedsbellows.htm
  13. Mine hurt for the first few weeks when I started playing, then at some point I didn't notice that this had stopped. I'm not sure if I started playing lighter, or whether I had killed the nerves in my fingertips, but this never happened again, even when I have returned after not having played for a few years. In fact, when I started playing again a few months ago, a lot of the pains I thought I'd have--fingertips, my strapped thumbs, etc, never happened. Some of it might be because along the way as I got more familiar with it, I learned to relax?
  14. There's not reason to blame the carpenter if he isn't equally happy with small brass keys, wide glass ones, round tops, flat ones, slippery ones, gripping ones. If it were mine, and I perceived that to be a problem, I'd probably lightly dust the key tops with a green kitchen pad to break the glaze. This should give just a bit more traction without being problematic. Not hard enough to depress the keys, nor to pull them sideways--just lightly across all the tops at once for a few large, light passes. If it doesn't work, stop!
  15. Sure, but technically speaking, a concertina should still be naturally more "strident" than a fiddle, unless the fiddle is a total piece of crap. My experience with fiddlers has been if you put a good violin in their hands they'll choose that, and that the fiddle vs violin myth disappears quickly when you hand a good fiddler a Strad. As I just added above, making mechanical comparisons between the two is probably a bad place to start, but if one wants to insist on that approach, on a violin there's wood that doesn't move, and shouldn't, and making it move makes the violin quieter (bad players seem inevitably like necks that vibrate in their hands--this vibration should be making sound, not be diverted to handgasms) and there's wood that makes noise, which is usually wood nearest the bridge, for a start. The violin is a very directly mechanical object, not magical. In a very general way, it's a mistake to think of them as "resonant", or to try to encourage resonance--what they are is highly responsive to subtle input, without too much specific discrimination. Putting pieces where they don't need to be usually makes violins quieter, not louder. In fact the usual cure for a strident violin is to move the post closer to the bridge and tighter, to control it a bit more and calm down that side--the E string side. That's why I suggested that if one believes that concertina sound comes from moving wood (though all indication is that it's moving air, not wood, that makes the sound) then the answer is to let the material in the neighborhood of the reed move more easily so that it can vibrate and add its own sound, hopefully without sapping from what the reed is doing, which will lead to damping. One test of this: are aluminum reed frames louder than brass? If so, then putting aluminum frames instead of brass around the higher (quieter) reeds would be one way to make the high notes step up relative to the low.
  16. I notice the OP starts out by saying his violin is strident. In the violin world we usually consider that a defect. Certainly my concertina is much more strident than any properly set up violin! First, I'd recommend some work to get the violin sounding right. Then, for the concertina, if it's not loud enough, a couple of mics and an amp. Nothing in this definition is good: stri·dent ˈstrīdnt/ adjective loud and harsh; grating. "his voice had become increasingly sharp, almost strident" synonyms: harsh, raucous, rough, grating, rasping, jarring, loud, shrill, screeching, piercing, ear-piercing "a strident voice interrupted the consultation" Usually violins have only about four strong harmonics above the fundamental on the E string--that's what makes them sound nice--where a concertina will have more than that on the corresponding notes. So it's not high harmonics that a concertina is missing, unless something is wrong, and you certainly don't want to be adding more or pumping them up! I've put baffles in my Lachanel English, and it's made it sound more like a violin to the point where violin people are complimenting me on its sound rather than staying politely silent. ? I suspect that's the original reason for baffles, since the English concertina was designed as a violin substitute. If the problem is that the high end is quiet, that's what happens when the reeds for high notes are smaller, and the air that is moving past them is less because they are small. Some reading up will confirm that it's a constant complaint of duet players that the low notes swamp the high. The solution to this is not to put in posts or other attachments to divert vibrations that could be making sound into moving wood that isn't supposed to move--this will damp the vibrations, not enhance them. If I were designing a concertina from scratch and wanted to experiment, I'd make the material closest to the reeds both lighter and more vibrant--perhaps use thin metal for the reed pan, for instance. But I don't think this would do much.
  17. My first concertina, which I had for about 15 years, was a used Stagi with leaks. I fixed it and happily played it until I got more money. I understood the difference, but I wasn't going to let my lack of money keep me from doing something I had wanted to do for a very long time. At the time the Stagi was really big bucks for me, but I am happy I bought it.
  18. I'm starting to play a bit more of an accordion style on English and happy with that. I wouldn't mind a tenor-treble for the extra few notes, but I'm doing OK. A piano accordion keyboard goes one note lower, to F, so I'm not feeling cheated yet. I never considered Anglo because I have habitually played all sorts of music, including violin parts in quartets, and currently I'm into Finnish waltzes and polkas. Duet would have been a choice, but I didn't know about that when I got my first concertina 40 years ago. Another thing that drew me to the English was the equal division of labor between hands because I was never a fast player on any instrument and thought that might be good for speed, and that did prove to work out well. Relevant to age and speed: I played actively through the start of the 90s, then stopped. I have just started up again, several months ago. I'm 69. I was worried about my speed, which was pathetic, but I have been practicing between 30 minutes and two hours a day, and noticed recently that my speed kicked up quite a bit without my having noticed or tested it, when I ripped through a couple of scales at . . . . unfamiliar. . . speed. I think that is mainly because I am practicing more then I every used to. My flexibility is also WAY up beyond whaat it ever was. So, practice more, longer, and don't give up.
  19. Are you aware of duet concertinas? She might like that. More notes, low ones on the left, high on the right. Still not too big compared with what she has. But it's the same note, push or pull, which she might not like.
  20. Do you have a name or phone number for that?
  21. RW--I'm not recommending English, in fact I think I said the opposite, that duet is a more interesting instrument. What is said was that a beginner's evaluation of a situation may not necessarily be accurate in the long run, so I wouldn't use comfort in the first 40 minutes as a major criteria for how you are going to feel in 20 years. That's in the same vein as the advice you will find here if you look around for beginners not to immediately start to want to have their concertinas modified to move buttons around, since they will eventually discover that buttons are where they are for good reasons.
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